travel

Austin, Texas City Guide by Julia Walck

Polaroid | Austin Motel | Austin, TX | Julia Walck

I went to Austin for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago! Before you ask, it actually wasn't for a festival or a show. I went just to go and explore... weird, right?

My friend Karlee was in Dallas for work, rented a car and picked me up from the Austin airport on a Wednesday afternoon. We were in town for four days and I was determined to make the most of it. Thankfully, some really rad friends steered us in the right direction of good grub and fun activities. 

I've rounded up links to everything we did just in case you find them fun, too! 

Things to Do:

  • Stay at the Austin MotelSouth Congress
    • The location of the Austin Motel was perfect for us. So many walkable restaurants, bars and vintage stores! Oh and having Jo's coffee just around the corner really helped with my breakfast taco cravings each morning. 
  • Watch the bats at Congress Bridge | South Congress
    • Every night at sunset, around 1 million bats fly out from under the Congress Bridge. The way the bridge is built makes it the perfect condition for these bats to inhabit, and at sunset they come out to play. We found that they came out more from the South Congress side of the bridge than the side close to downtown. 
  • Hamilton Pool Reserve | Dripping Springs
    • You need a reservation to go to the Hamilton Pool Reserve. You make the reservation online for $11, and day-of bring $15 cash to park and have your reservation number ready for the attendant. Trust me the planning on this one is worth it to swim in a grotto with catfish, watch the water drip from the stalactites and see the birds fly in and out of their cave nests. 
Polaroid | Hamilton Pool Reserve | Austin, TX | Julia Walck
  • See Ellsworth Kelly's Chapel at the Blanton Museum | University of Texas Campus
    • Free admission on Thursdays! All other days (except closed on Monday) is $9 for the chapel and whole museum. Ellsworth Kelly's Chapel was a must-see for me while in Austin. The size of the work, amount of time that went into the planning of the project (3 decades!), the fact that Kelly was an athiest and the completion of it just before his death in 2015 making it his final work all are factors that make this work of art so compelling. 
  • Rent Electric Bikes from Pedego | South Congress(ish)
    • We took a 2 hour bike ride around Lady Bird Lake (AKA the Colorado River), and enjoyed the sunshine. Once I got the hang of the electric bike it was smooth sailing from there. 
  • Walk Through the Capitol Building | Downtown Austin
    • You can either take a tour or do a self-guided one. We did a quick walk through, and the architecture of the building is pretty phenomenal. 
  • Barton Springs Municipal Pool | Zilker Park
    • Go swimming with the salamanders at Barton Springs! $8 cash entry per person. No food or drink allowed (other than water). Get there early to avoid standing in line! (We went around 9am). Watching the divers was possibly my favorite part of the trip. Friends would line up and watch as divers would flop extremely hard or do an impressive dive. Super entertaining either way.
Polaroid | Barton Springs Pool | Austin, TX | Julia Walck
Polaroid | Diver at Barton Springs Pool | Austin, TX | Julia Walck
  • Drive Around a Bit and Explore! | Anywhere
    • We saw tons of great art just driving around in the car on the way to and from activities. Bring a camera and have some fun!

Bars:

  • The Continental Club | South Congress
    • Bar/music venue. The Continental Club was right across the street from The Austin Motel where we were staying, so we caught some tunes our first night in seeing The South Austin Moonlighters. 
  • Stay Gold | Holly
    • Margaritas and frosé. What more do you need? A giant outdoor patio? You've got it. Giant fans to beat the heat? You've got it! An indoor stage for live bands? You guessed it, you've got it! Bonus: great signage outside. 
Polaroid | Stay Gold | Austin, TX | Julia Walck
  • Weather Up | Holly 
    • From the outside, it looks like you're walking into someone's house. There's even a big backyard to go along with it. We sat at a wobbly table inside, and were served by a man who looked like Matthew Gray Gubler. Who, when asked to describe the taste of yellow chartreuse could only compare it in a poetic way, expressing that it tasted like "the side of a mountain". It tasted like Gatorade. 
  • Whisler's | Holly
    • A very eclectic mix of shabby chic, industrial and "hunter" style. Whisler's has a long, bustling bar top that extends through almost the entire interior of the bar. I was drinking an old fashioned when I took a photo of said bar and accidentally let my flash go off leaving everybody a bit blind. Oops. 
  • Kitty Cohen's | Holly
    • Kitty Cohen's has a large outdoor patio space that surrounds a small pool in the center. They served a mean Singapore sling here. Best drink of the night!
  • Spiderhouse | North University
    • A cafe/bar/ballroom. Karlee and I grabbed a beer on the outdoor patio that's surrounded by loads of old signage (which is 100% my jam). Once it started to rain, we retreated to the covered cafe section which was still just as cool an environment. 
Polaroid | Spiderhouse Cafe and Ballroom | Austin, TX | Julia Walck
  • Midnight Cowboy | Downtown Austin
    • A speakeasy bar housed in a former brothel. You have to make a reservation before stopping by, and you'll be assigned a "buzzer name" to buzz once you arrive. We were greeted by a very enthusiastic server who helped us refine our drink choices based on our taste. I got a tiki drink that came lit on fire while our server sprinkled cinnamon on top of it making it spark and eventually clapped out the flame. Drinks and a show. 
  • The Redheaded StepchildDowntown Austin
    • Fronted by a "floppy disk repair" sign, "The Readheaded Stepchild" is another speakeasy bar that's just around the corner from Midnight Cowboy. The only reason we discovered it is when we were in our Lyft, I was taken aback by the sign that read "floppy disk repair". Our driver overheard my confusion and chimed in, letting us know sometimes there's a code, sometimes there's a doorman, but it's usually hard to get in. We sort of just stood outside until someone left, and I grabbed the door before it shut. Reflexes! We then sat on swing seats at the bar while enjoying our drinks. 
  • Las Perlas Mezcaleria | Downtown Austin
    • Huge selection of tequila and mezcal. I was brave and mixed a Paloma with all of the whiskey I'd been having that night and I survived! 
  • Half Step | Rainey Street
    • A nice, southern homestyle bar equipped with a large front yard and deck/patio to sip your drinks. This bar seemed the least "college-y" out of anything else we were seeing on Rainey Street. Which turned out to be just way too much of a college scene for us to explore more bars after this stop. 
    • Hotel Saint Cecilia | South Congress
      • There's just something nice about hotel bars sometimes. Especially ones with delicious drinks (even if they are $20. You're on vacation, right?). Hotel Saint Cecilia is sort of hidden down a side street in the South Congress area. I got major Chateau Marmont vibes from their little sign outside and just the hotel in general, actually. We walked back to their little bar area, enjoyed the nice night and took a peek at their pool area with a great big neon sign reflecting over the pool that reads "SOUL". 
    • Hotel San Jose | South Congress
      • We ended up at the Hotel San Jose for a nightcap on our final night. A cozy little outdoor area next to the pool home to a southern-Spanish-Anthropologie-style aesthetic.
    Polaroid | SOUL | Austin, TX | Julia Walck

    Coffee:

    • Epoch Coffee | North Loop
      • Never say no to coffee and pastries. This was a perfect coffee stop-off after vintage shopping in North Loop. 
    • Jo's Hot Coffee Good Food | South Congress
      • Get a breakfast taco and take a photo in front of the "I Love You So Much" mural. Oh and grab some coffee, too. Pet a dog while you're at it. There seemed to always be a minimum of 3 in line. 
    • Mazama Coffee CoDripping Springs
      • Great for a post-Hamilton-Pool-dip. 

    Food: 

    • Sala & Betty | New American Food | North Loop
      • Good for a quick meal: they even have a drive-thru!
    • Elizabeth Street Cafe | Vietnamese Food | South Congress
      • Yes I got pho even though it was 90 degrees outside... and it was delicious! No regrets! Their branding gets an A+ from the interior/exterior design of the restaurant to the menus and all the way down to the neon pink straws their cocktails are served with. A very non-traditional-"Austin"-spot, but I definitely recommend checking it out. 
    • Rolling in Thyme & Dough | Sandwiches | Dripping Springs
      • I got the turkey in thyme sandwich and it was honestly one of the best sandwiches I've had. I'm not sure if the pre-lunch Hamilton Pool swim attributed to this or not, but either way I was happy. They also bake cakes and pies in-house and all of them looked so good! But I was too full to even attempt to eat a slice. 
    • Launderette | American/Comfort Food | Holly 
      • Super cute interior. Good food but smaller portions. Maybe grab a snacky bit to share while you're here, too. 
    • Magnolia Cafe | Diner | South Congress
      • Open 24/7. We went for breakfast and diner food was exactly what my hangover ordered! 
    • Guero's Tacos | Mexican | South Congress
      • Save your money on the house margaritas here (maybe it was a sub-par day?), but order ALL THE TACOS! I got two of the a la carte spicy tacos. The "El Jefe" was my favorite!
    • Stubb's BBQ | BBQ | Downtown Austin
      • Try to come here the night of a show! I gawked over all of the gig posters they had framed on the walls from past shows: Spoon!? Wilco!? My Morning Jacket!? Wish I could've seen those acts in an intimate venue like Stubb's. Oh and food. Get the BBQ, obviously. But the mac n cheese is basically just Velveeta. 
    • Torchy's Tacos | Mexican | South Congress
      • Damn good tacos. 
    Polaroid | Skull Street Art | Austin, TX | Julia Walck

    Vintage Stores:

    • Ermine Vintage | North Loop
      • Good for vintage clothing, accessories and shoes.
    • Revival Vintage | North Loop
      • Great for larger scale furniture and homeware items. Has a vintage clothing section in the back that's color coordinated! I snagged a set of four, tall saguaro cups here and they will be the only thing I'm drinking out of all summer! 
    • Room Service Vintage | North Loop
      • Loads of great barware and tchotchkes galore! Plus a decent selection of jewelry and clothing. I saw a pitcher with ballpark style text that read "Suds", and you know I lugged that big hunk of glass all the way back to LA. 
    • Austin Antique Mall | North Shoal Creek
      • 30,000 square feet of sweet, sweet vintage. Austin's largest antique store that really has a bit of everything. We made sure to do this one on a day we had a rental car since it's a bit further north than Austin. Everything in North Loop was on the way because I'm a planner! 
    • Flashback VintageSouth Congress
      • Hallelujah! They have a plus-size-friendly rack! Multiple rooms of vintage-goodness sprinkled in with a home goods mainly in the form of kitchen accessories. Fun jewelry, a good sized shoe selection and lots and lots of clothes. 
    • Passport Vintage | South Congress
      • The front room is mostly denim, but as you work your way back there are more of your standard vintage clothing goods. Go in the dressing room here! Trust me. It's a bathroom turned greenhouse with an iridescent mirror to make your vintage going experience all the more magical.
    Polaroid | Passport Vintage | Austin, TX | Julia Walck
    • I Luv Vintage | North University
      • Wide variety of vintage clothing from multiple vendors in the shop. Dig for gold here. And grab a beer at Spiderhouse afterwards to celebrate a job well done. 
    • Feather's Vintage | South Congress
      • Clothes. Clothes. Clothes. On the pricier side, but good pickin's. 
    • Prototype Vintage | South Congress
      • Hidden gems live here. Heaps of vintage clothing, shoes, hats and accessories. I found a denim maxi dress that fits my 5'3" body perfectly. If that isn't heaven-sent I don't know what is. 
    • Charm School VintageCentral East Austin
      • Vintage clothing, purses, shoes and accessories. 
    Polaroid | Look On The Bright Side | Austin, TX | Julia Walck

    Thanks for reading. Let me know if you use any of these tips for your Austin trip, or have any fun spots to add!  

    All photos were shot on my Polaroid I-Type Camera. 

    Denver, Colorado City Guide by Julia Walck

    When I heard that Bonobo was on tour with a new album and playing a show at Red Rocks I jumped at the chance to make the trip to Colorado. 

    Next time you're on a plane I suggest listening to the title track off Migration upon takeoff. Look out the window at the planes, fields, cars, shapes... everything. It just feels so right. I definitely had a moment. Traveling to a beautiful place to see a beautiful show with a song that embodies getting from point A to point B... magic.

    My friend Karlee and I flew in to the Denver airport and took the train to Union Station. (Which was super easy!) There was surprisingly a lot of great restaurants, drink options and spots to hangout at Union Station. We found ourselves back here at times just for those reasons. 

    Here's what we did while in Denver for the weekend! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post and have a look at the map! (I just discovered custom maps via "Google My Maps" and I'm a little obsessed).

    The Kitchen is super walkable from Union Station, so it was really convenient just getting in from the train to go straight to lunch. And it was happy hour! Cocktails right off the bat of vacation are pretty standard, right?

    Later that night we continued the drinks with whiskey flights and herby vodkas at Williams and Graham, a speakeasy style bar in a "corner bookstore". 

    Down the street was Linger. This bar was converted from an old mortuary called Olinger's and now they refer to themselves as an "Eatuary". Equally terrifying (when you think about it) but punny. I love that they kept the original sign for Olinger's but turned off the "O".

    I was getting pretty hungry and in need of some food after so much drinking, so we got 10pm pasta from Bar Dough.

    Friday morning we brunched at The Cookery at Myrtle HillThe huevos rancheros is delicious! Especially when paired with a bloody Mary. 

    We worked up quite the appetite for shopping, so we hit up Antique Row. 

    Antique Row in Denver is a stretch of road between Arkansas Ave and E Iowa Ave filled with antique stores! Check out the "Antique Row" section on the below map to see my favorite shops. 

    I found some cute lil' stir sticks, vintage letters and a Mickey Mouse head pin for a friend. Antiquing is a lot like treasure hunting and sometimes you just find that gold! 

    coffee-hudsonHill.jpg

    We grabbed some coffee at Hudson Hill to regain some energy for the show! ...we may have also had a cocktail here too... I mean hello, they do have a full bar.

    Nearby was a ping-pong bar, (yep you read that right), Ace Eat Serve. Unfortunately there was a company party happening and we weren't able to play ping-pong. (Damn you cool companies!) However, we were still able to drink. They have a really good happy hour deal for $2 veggie spring rolls and $5 highballs. I also suggest getting "The Chef's Special" if you like PBR and kimchi pickle backs. 

    ok. OK. OKAY. The moment is here... Red Rocks! 

    Within a minute of walking down the path into the venue, we saw 2 deer grazing on the other side of the handrail. What?! This place was so pretty already I couldn't wait to see Bonobo

    The show was general admission so we could sit wherever. Karlee and I found a good spot in the middle a little less than halfway up. 

    Innov Gnawa was the first act. They're featured on Bonobo's song, Bambro Koyo Ganda, and it was cool to hear their solo stuff.

    RedRocks-Nick-Murphy.jpg

    It got dark before we even knew it, and Nick Murphy with his massive amounts of lasers came on. His new album, Missing Link, had just released a few days prior so he had loads of new music to play. Don't forget the oldies though like "No Diggity" and "The Trouble With Us"

    It was time for Bonobo! So I'd actually seen him twice already in a two week span, and this would be my third. But they never get old. I'm always down to dance, and dance I did. This (above) is the only photo I took of the whole performance! That's how you know it was good.

    The whole day had been pretty hot: around 75 or 80 degrees. Out of nowhere, it started raining. And then it continued to hail! Everyone around us acted like this was a completely normal thing to happen at a show at Red Rocks, because well, I guess it was. Luckily the hail was really small and it was cool to see little ice clumps gathered in our hands. 

    The show was amazing and hard to describe in words. Honestly if there's someone on the bill at Red Rocks who you'd love to see, go. It's really a venue like no other and an awesome experience.

    Holy hangover, Batman! Okay, so Saturday my body hated me. Like didn't want to move or do anything at all. 

    Lucky for us this was the day we scheduled a rental car to drive out to Boulder and go hiking. Yay! 

    First we stopped at Blackeye coffee for some lattes and breakfast sandwiches. Seemed like a fitting name for a coffeeshop given the state we were both in.

    Somehow we mustered up the strength to go through with it. We hiked Gregory's Pass which was beautiful! I suggest not going on a day you're hungover, but even if you are you shouldn't miss out on some good ol' nature. It'll do your body good.

    The hike was near the equivalent of 48 flights of stairs. We did about an hour up and an hour back, so we didn't make it fully to the top but what we did see was so pretty.

    Since we had the car for a little while longer after the hike, we drove around Boulder and ogled some houses. Man they're cute out there!

    Back to Denver, then after a quick nap back at the hotel we were ready for food.

    Mushroom pizza is my favorite. So obviously, yes please! Cart Driver in the Art District was SO GOOD. Karlee and I split a pie and it was the perfect amount for the both of us.

    RiNo Art District had tons of street art to wander around and see. Great photo ops! 

    The Denver Central Market is also in RiNo and it's super cute. Look at this typographic tile!

    There was coffee, pastries, ice cream, a deli, fresh veggies, a bar and more.

    I went for the blueberry lemon ice cream at High Point Creamery. One: because I love blueberry and lemon; Two: because the ice cream was a complimentary color to my golden mustard jacket. 

    Next up was Bar Fausto. Finally! A place where a Bee's Knees is on the menu. AKA my favorite drink. Gin, honey and lemon. Perfection.

    Video game bars are amazing. And there's one in Denver! The 1up has two locations for optimal arcade time for whatever side of town you're in. We went to the one in Colfax so we'd be closer to Voodoo Doughnut

    Good things come in pink boxes is right! I will always go out of my way to get to Voodoo. I mean on the way back from a roadtrip from LA to Washington we made one stop in between: The Voodoo in Portland. Will stop for doughnuts. 

    We brunched at Beatrice and Woodsley on what happened to be Mother's Day. There was a prix-fixe menu, and everything was delicious. I've heard when they have a full menu, the crawfish beignets are a must.

    We walked around the area (to try and settle our stomachs from such a big meal) and to go shopping. There was a Goodwill and a Buffalo Exchange within walking distance and of course we went to both! 

    I found a straw pom pom hat and collared long sleeve star dress at Buffalo Exchange. Score! 

    So the University Building in Denver has a smokestack painted to look like a GIANT PENCIL. I just love anything kitschy like this. I had seen it from a car when we were driving past one day and I needed to make sure we made it back here so I could snap a shot, so we stopped on the way back to our hotel. 

    Next stop, Larimer Square. A cute little street filled with string lights, lots of restaurants, along with chain stores and some local boutiques.

    I was really craving chips and guac, so we found a nearby spot to grab some grub. Lucky for us, Next Door was basically next door at Union Station. They also refer to it as "Union Station Restaurant", "Continental Room" or the "Caboose Lounge" (personal favorite). 

    The time for our flight out was drawing near, so we hung around and grabbed a drink at Terminal Bar before catching our train back to the airport. Seriously how cute is this bar though?

    There's honestly so much to do in Denver, and I feel like we only touched the tip of the iceberg. 

    Hopefully this map will be helpful if you're planning a trip to Denver, or maybe it piques your interest to visit... Have fun exploring! 

    Note: There are sections on this map for bars, food, coffee, places to go, and even a section of my favorite antique stores! They're color coded and can be found on the left. 

    Exploring Manchester by Julia Walck

    After Festival Number 6 (how was that already almost 3 months ago?!), Emily and I stayed a few days in Manchester to wind down. It mainly consisted of drinking and thrift shopping. No complaints here.

    DAY 1

    Give me a moment while I re-live getting from point A (Festival Number 6 in Portmeirion, Wales) to point B (Manchester):

    It was raining when we woke up. We were pretty tired due to the night before. We had watched Noel Gallagher in the rain while eating chips and I convinced Emily to go to a DJ set for Maribou State, which resulted in a late night. 

    We had pre-packed most of our things the afternoon prior to make it easy getting out. I gathered up the last of the glitter and we said goodbye to our yurt. 

    Then came the mud. I mentioned it was raining right? Somehow my suitcase seemed much heavier, and I now had to hoist it over an ocean of mud while simultaneously not falling in said ocean. We made it to the shuttle filled with fellow groggy, wet festival goers, (a very different scene than when we were going TO the festival), and were off.

    When passing the car park, Em and I were both very happy we didn't have a car at this festival. All the mud from the rain was like quicksand to the cars and multiple people were stuck. 

    We got to Bangor for our train a bit early so I got Em and myself some flat whites and pastries while we waited. A Virgin train worker came up to us with trash bags and asked if we wanted them for our wellies. I can't tell you how amazing that moment was. I removed my mud soaked (now crusted on) rain boots, managed to shove them in my suitcase, and changed into tennis shoes. 

    The train ride was alright. People had taken our seats and they put up a fuss about moving and then continued to be quite loud all the way to Crewe, our connecting train. When getting off this crowded train, I had to lift my suitcase off in a way that wouldn't hit people. Funny thing though: when flying in, the side handle completely broke off my (borrowed) suitcase while in the baggage claim. Broken handle side was towards me when I lifted this suitcase off of the train, and it got caught in my pants. It ripped and slid it's full weight down a few inches while I cringed and we ran to our next train.

    The second train ride was much smoother. Once we got to Manchester Picadilly we walked about a mile with our suitcases to our AirBNB down the road. 

    We instantly threw ourselves onto the bed and let out a big sigh. There was a debate whether to nap or actually go out and celebrate. It was my birthday after all. 

    It was decided that we first get some lunch. We ate at Gorilla Bar and Kitchen which we actually had twice on our trip because it was so good. Not to mention basically just down the stairs from our AirBNB.

    After lunch we slipped into a food coma and took a nap. We rested up, got ready, and then went out for the night.

    Our first stop was Guilty by Association. It's a basement bar in the Northern Quarter which drew us in with a pinball machine and a neon sign. The bartender kept trying to perfect a lemon in the shape of a rose for me in my drinks, which was nice. And funny.

    We ended up at a ping pong bar next. Twenty Twenty Two was tucked away in an alley and down some stairs. Sounds sketchy, but trust me it's not. It's a very artsy, underground space where you can watch people get smashed and be terrible at ping pong. AKA it's awesome. 

    I ordered a bees knees (as usual). Gin, honey and lemon. Up. For some reason I thought to myself, "They love gin over here, they must make a good bees knees." The bartender had no clue what that was and this was their first time making it. It wasn't good so he made me something else that was. Let's just say I got quite a few drinks on the house this way.

    Just around the corner was a bar called Allotment. They had at least fifty different types of gin, so I figured why not try one I've never had? I ordered a gin and tonic with Forest Gin (because the packaging was so pretty) and it was really good. The atmosphere in Allotment had an open floor plan, and was good for drinks or dinner. Nice quiet spot. 

    Day-1-allotment.jpeg

    We walked past this bar called FAB which was covered in comic books and playing cards. I was drawn in by the nerdiness of it so we went up to the door. In a British accent, the bouncer asked us, "Do you ladies know whats on tonight?" We each shook our heads and he said, "Wrestling match". Haha. Thinking that might be too rowdy we continued on.

    The next spot was The Temple. It's a pub that's a renovated public toilet turned bar. 

    It's really little in there but quite charming. The fact that we were out so late on a Monday night meant there wasn't a ton of people inside and we had full reign on the jukebox. 

    "Grounds for Divorce" by Elbow and "Blue Orchid" by The White Stripes were two of my picks. Manchester is a very musical town which you could really see by all the band posters wallpapered all over the pub.

    By this point we had each switched to beer. We chugged and went on to the next bar, because this night had somehow turned into a pub crawl of sorts. 

    Our final stop was Rain Bar. This was a minute walk from our AirBNB so it felt like the proper spot to wrap our night up. (You can even see it from our window).

    I think I had like 7-8 drinks in total that night? We did good for just having done a 3-day festival and endured so much travel. 

    DAY 2

    Surprisingly neither of us were hungover from the night before. We got some brunch at Moose Coffee, and then went vintage shopping for most of the day. 

    We started at Afflecks. A fellow festival-goer actually told us about this spot. It was a lot bigger than we anticipated. I think there was about 4 stories to this labyrinth of shops. Punk stores, record shops, condom factory? This place had a bit of everything. We wandered around for a long time here checking out all the little shops. 

    Down the road we saw Cow Vintage. What a cute shop! Two stories of glorious vintage clothing. I found three dresses here and each were like 10 pounds. The dressing room was awesome too: floor to ceiling carpet. It was a pattern lovers dream! 

    When we were checking out, the cashier noticed our accents and asked where we were from and what brought us to Manchester. She mentioned she had gone to Festival Number 6 a few years back and thought it was awesome we came all the way from LA for it. She took out a notepad and started writing a list of great bars and other vintage shops in the area for us to check out. Her name was Melissa and she was super helpful and awesome to us! We already had a lot of the same spots on our list, but some new ones were Blue Rinse Vintage, American Graffiti, and Junk. Melissa also told us about a speakeasy bar where you enter through a washing machine. Her words were "Google 'hidden bars in Manchester'". If only we had more time in the city! 

    Pop Boutique was next. This vintage shop had two stories as well, but the lower story had a lot of furniture and decor. 

    I got the most awesome retro pillow here – which was a little hard to travel home with but worth it. 

    We took a break from thrifting and got some coffee at Foundation Coffee House. Really clever branding and good design here. And good coffee. And good sense of community. Basically good everything. That next night (Wednesday) they were doing a screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to honor Gene Wilder's passing. They told us there would be candy galore! And drink specials (because it was also a bar). They had movie nights every Wednesday. It seemed like there was always something to do in this city.

    Walking down the street a window display with a disco ball, confetti and cake in a shopping cart drew me in to a bakery called Milk Jam. I ordered a slice of cake since I never had any on my birthday. 

    This cake was chocolate with shimmer dust topping and gummy bears, bubble gum, Cheetos, sour straws and cookies. It definitely filled my sweet tooth craving.

    That night Emily and I went bowling at a spot called Dog Bowl down the street from our AirBNB. The bowling ball returns were dog butts and there was a massive disco ball. I lost, but those two things definitely made up for it.

    Day 3

    Federal Cafe was our spot for brunch on our final day in Manchester. I got the smashed avocado on sourdough toast with a poached egg on top and a bloody Mary. I'm still drooling about this meal to this day.

    After brunch we stopped at Primark and TopShop. I bought entirely too many things but I just kept finding great items! I literally had to sit on my suitcase to fit everything in before coming home.

    The Manchester Art Gallery was on our walk back to the apartment and we figured we should stop and get some culture while we were here. 

    One of my favorite rooms was an interactive art piece where you got to play dress up with plastic neon shapes, oddly pieced together scarves and weird tube things. 

    There was also a Vogue exhibit happening. Vogue 100: A Century of Style. You entered into a room where a video projected onto two walls, and a mirror was on the other reflecting the videos. Behind the scenes of photoshoots, moody music and photographs plastered the walls.

    Walking further into the exhibit, large scale framed famous portraits hung stacked floor to ceiling. There were also cases with every single issue of Vogue laid out cover by cover; the progression was really cool to see design-wise and fashion-wise. 

    The rest of the museum was filled with renaissance style art. Here's two of my favorite eclectic pieces below.

    We went to a trivia night at Common. It was Flight of the Conchords themed and I embarrassingly did terrible. I blame the gin and bottle of wine Emily and I split.

    Despite the letdown on the trivia, this spot was really cool. I grabbed a "grab bag" filled with little flyers and things to do around town for that month. It made me a little sad that I was leaving and wouldn't be able to go to any of the things like a Nicolas Cage movie marathon, more trivia nights, or one of the fifty some odd concerts happening. Lots of great print design in there though and nice little souvenier. 

    By the time we got out of trivia all food spots were closed and we decided to just walk back to the apartment. On the way, we saw a sign from God that said "late night food"! 

    It ended up being Black Dog Ballroom, which was associated with Dog Bowl where we'd gone bowling. I got a hot dog some fries and a beer and was happy.

    Day-3-Black-Dog.JPG

    We got a good night's sleep and headed to the airport in the morning to go back to LA. Manchester was great and I wish we had even more time to explore.

    Bill Murray 

    Street art

    Neon legs

    Locks above the canal

    Festival No. 6 by Julia Walck

    Let me just start by saying that Festival No. 6 was the best festival I've ever been to. 

    And I've been to Coachella (4 times), HARD Summer, FYF (twice), Moon Block Party, Free Press Summer Fest, and Sasquatch!.

    The festival setting in Portmeirion, Wales is amazing and unlike any other; it felt like we were walking in a dream.

    The lookout

    Seats in the village

    The Estuary

    The Estuary

    Here's some things from the festival that really stood out to me as being different from ones in the states:

    1. GLITTER. Glitter everywhere. You're probably going, "yeah yeah I've seen festival glitter before." No. Not like this. Faces, beards, bodies... Actually On the shuttle ride over, everyone had glitter smothered on their faces. "That all looks very similar," I thought. They told us there was a Festival No. 6 party train car that did free glitter for everyone. (They mucked up our tickets so we weren't on it). Damn. 
    2. Someone from every age seemed to be there, and it was extremely family friendly. And even older people had glitter, too. 
    3. There was almost no limit to what you could bring into the festival. I saw a guy wearing a massive disco ball around him. It had a boombox inside of it and it was my favorite thing ever. 
    4. The weather, obviously. But we'll get into that later.

    Getting there was a bit of a trek. And by "a bit of a trek" I mean we were traveling for at least 24 hours straight. 

    Our itinerary looked a little something like this:

    Itinerary

    Itinerary

    Yes, we are crazy.

    Since Emily and I went through all of that travel and knew we'd be exhausted traveling across the world, we had splurged and got a yurt.

    Our yurt, shot by Emily on her GoPro

    Our yurt, shot by Emily on her GoPro

    And let me tell you, it was so worth it. 

    Not having to deal with lugging a sleeping bag and other camping necessities on our travels was a smart move on our part. Plus crashing in a bed every night in a warm yurt is so much better than shivering out in a little tent on a hill in the mud. 

    The festival didn't officially start until the day after we arrived so we wandered the grounds a bit.

    Wellies on the rocks

    And then fell in love with this wall

    Fell in love with these colors

    Arm candy

    All of the vibrant colors around us made me so happy. And better yet, it felt like fall: the leaves actually changed colors.

    One of the first things we did day 1 of the festival was get a physical lineup. Or as they call them in the UK: programs. 

    Their programs are very different over there than they are in the states. It was almost bigger than I was once folded out. Think, "old Thomas Guide" style. 

    On the back of the Festival No. 6 program was an illustrated map of Portmeirion. The far right is where Emily and I stayed, in the middle is the main arena, to the left of that the general campground area, then the village, the estuary and the woods. 

    If it looks big, that's because it was. One day at the festival we walked 30,912 steps! 

    FRIDAY

    • Dance a la Plage
    • Bad Sounds
    • Beach Baby
    • Horse Beach
    • Eldoko
    • Clean Cut Kid
    • Aurora
    • M. Ward
    • Kaiser Chiefs
    • Bastille
    • The Two Bears

    Emily and I grooved on a dance floor floating on a pond underneath a massive disco ball, got lost in the woods for forty minutes trying to find a stage, drank our weight in beer, saw Joe Goddard perform in front of a castle, and jumped around to Kaiser Chiefs. Plus so, so much more. And that's only day 1! 

    Dreamcatchers in the woods

    Dreamcatchers in the woods

    Disco. Balls. Everywhere.

    Zoom in. Bottom left. You're welcome.

    Ironic that we did get lost in the woods...

    Ironic that we did get lost in the woods...

    The weather was perfect on Friday - almost a little hot considering it was so much colder than LA. I think that's one of the main reasons we were able to catch 11 bands since it made walking from stage to stage easy.

    Clean Cut Kid

    Clean Cut Kid

    Horse Beach

    Kaiser Chiefs

    AURORA

    Joe Goddard

    AURORA was super cute. Talking about her surroundings at the festival she shyly said, "I feel very much like I'm in the middle of Lord of the Rings. But without Mordor obviously."

    Bad Sounds

    Bad Sounds

    M. Ward

    Beach Baby

    Dance a la Plage

    El Doko

    Not only were the sights stunning... the food and drink was great too. Waffles, banana and cream with a flat white for breakfast, vegan sushi burrito for lunch and jalapeno cheese hot dog for dinner (churros for dessert). Oh and espresso martinis. Can't forget those!

    At Sushi Maki, the burrito truck, the guy working turned to his co-worker and said, "There's two dollars under the till. Why are there two American dollars there? We've had no American customers". Emily and I go, "We'll take 'em". He shrugged and went, "Yeah alright". So we got sushi burritos and some money back! Wish they could've been twenties though. 

    The vintage selection they had on site was great. I found a 70s dress with an obnoxiously long, amazing collar for 10£, and two pairs of earrings handmade in Asia. 

    Later on Friday night, we stayed for a few Bastille songs and headed back to the yurt. The 2 Bears weren't on until 1 in the morning. We rested for an hour and a half until I convinced Emily to go back out with me. 

    Bastille

    Bastille

    Disco ceiling at Two Bears

    Disco ceiling at Two Bears

    My "drink of the weekend" A gin paloma.

    In between shows we explored. We stumbled upon this tinseled out motorhome and I took quite a few photos before realizing the owner was in the window waving out at me. She hid for the photos.

    Like a mobile party

    Like a mobile party

    SATURDAY

    • Groove Theory
    • The Amazons
    • Oh Wonder
    • Blossoms
    • Temples
    • Roisin Murphy
    • Hot Chip

    Saturday we woke up to the sound of rain hitting the top of the yurt. "That's nice," we thought. Little did we know that was only the mild beginning of rain for the day. 

    The path to our yurt

    The path to our yurt

    We went in to the festival around 11am, grabbed a brekkie boy bagel and watched Hot Chip's sound check. The rain started coming down harder so we went into the House of Rum and saw Groove Theory. Not many people were out as it was now pouring. The burlap floors of the House of Rum turned into an unintentional "Great Lake" art installation.

    Hot Chip sound check

    The view from Groove Theory

    The view from Groove Theory

    Sipsmith Gin Shop was the next spot with coverage. I've been drinking salted gin palomas all weekend. They're delicious. When the gin shop literally began to acquire a river we went on our way to see Amazons. I never realized they were so young! 

    Amazons

    Amazons

    Trekking through the mud, we went to the village for Blueprint Blue. Bummer that Tim Peak's Diner was so tiny we couldn't even get standing room.

    Carnival No. 6, a parade where festival goers can get done up in glitter and costumes, got postponed due to the rain. I think that shows how bad the weather really was. We watched dancers on the Village Stage instead. They were swing dancing and did a lesson for the crowd to learn too. We left before the lesson; somehow wide leg movements and mud didn't seem a good combo.  

    When we arrived back at the main stage it was completely roped off. A tractor was piling wood chips slowly into the pit. The security guard let us know Lawrence Taylor canceled due to the weather. Shit. And the workers didn't know when it would open back up. Slight panic went over me as Hot Chip was that night. 

    Stage trouble

    Stage trouble

    Luckily, Oh Wonder played at the Grand Pavilion next and that's covered. A giant "OW" light lit the back of the stage while they played their slow, dancey tunes. 

    Oh Wonder

    Oh Wonder

    The main stage opened back up in time for Blossoms. After a few songs from afar, we went back to the Grand Pavilion for Temples. So. Much. Mud. 

    Blossoms

    Blossoms

    Roisin Murphy took the main stage next. Emily and I had split up at this point and it was raining again. I can't even begin to count the amount of outfit changes Roisin had, but it was a lot. She did request an umbrella off the side of the stage at one point because of the rain. 

    Temples

    Roisin Murphy

    Roisin Murphy

    Roisin Murphy

    When waiting up front for Hot Chip, a procession of red lanterns could be seen from a distance in the side of the crowd. Then a crane came, carrying a geometric-UFO-box-like-thing covered in lights and mirrors. It spun while dramatic music played and then someone was lowered down from the middle to disco music.

    Definitely wasn't expecting that. I overheard someone ask, "Does this have anything to do with 'The Prisoner'?" A TV show filmed in Portmeirion in the 60s. Maybe I'll have to watch it. 

    The rain had stopped by now, and Hot Chip put on a fantastic show as always. My fries sign made it all the way to Wales with me and somehow didn't get destroyed by the rain. They smiled when I held it up. It was Alexis's son's birthday and he brought his kids out for "Dancing in the Dark". The kids played maracas and danced around. Confetti was everywhere. After the show, I asked security for a set-list. He said, "Only if those guys," (pointing to the roadies), "hand me one I can give it to you, sorry". A few minutes later the set-list blew off the stage and on the ground in front of me. I guess I was just destined to have it. 

    Hot Chip brought up dancers for a Prince tribute song

    Hot Chip brought up dancers for a Prince tribute song

    Hot Chip

    Hot Chip

    Afterwards I met up with Em again. I got some pasta and her some churros and we slowly walked in the mud back to camp. 

    Emily (left) and me (right)

    Emily (left) and me (right)

    SUNDAY

    • Get Inuit
    • Fickle Friends
    • C Duncan
    • Teleman
    • Milky Chance
    • Lucy Rose
    • Super Furry Animals
    • Noel Gallagher
    • Maribou State
    The Coffee Gondola. AKA our daily saving grace

    The Coffee Gondola. AKA our daily saving grace

    Sunday, the final day of the festival, our first band was Fickle Friends at the woods stage at 2:15pm. We went in a bit early so we could get food. After Aussie style eggs and sweet potato fries there was still extra time. The floating dance floor seemed like a good time killer, so we danced.

    Bubbles in the woods

    Bubbles in the woods

    Since the carnival got canceled the day before, it was on our to-do list for Sunday. They never released a new time for it, but I mean you'd think it'd be the same as they initially intended right? Wrong. 

    Luckily, we happened to be walking through the village when it was going on and we caught the very end of it.

    We got to the Lost in the Woods Stage while the 1:30 band was still playing. I actually knew of them and didn't realize they were here. The band was called Get Inuit. Glad we caught them.

    Get Inuit

    Get Inuit

    It was only slightly drizzly but made the Fickle Friends set-up a bit dodgy. They finally got all set and put on a great show. The awesome thing about a festival with so many stages is you can get close to pretty much whatever since everyone is so spread out.

    C Duncan was thankfully in the Grand Pavillion (the covered space). Though, the floor was basically a mud pit now. Their little Irish accents were so cute! And all of them had such great voices. 

    Fickle Friends

    C Duncan

    Teleman played the main stage and the rain had died down. There was a girl in the crowd to our left that the lead guitarist kept looking at with a big smile. She was getting down. Groovin' in the mud, letting it all go. I was jealous of her mustard yellow corduroy overalls and teal tights. So adorable! 

    Teleman

    Teleman

    Next up was Milky Chance who was kind of "meh". I honestly haven't listened to any of their other songs prior to this show other than "Stolen Dance". They all sound exactly the same. Not impressed.

    Milky Chance

    Milky Chance

    Someone who surprised me though was Lucy Rose. Emily wanted to see her - I'd never heard of her but thought, "Why not?" Her voice is like a choir of angels; I don't know how it comes out of her tiny body. Sidenote: I was reading the Festival No. 6 booklet - apparently she used to be in Bombay Bicycle Club. 

    Lucy Rose

    Lucy Rose

    Super Furry Animals had a big crowd and we hung back. We left after they played "Bing Bong" (weird song) and went for a drink before Noel Gallagher came on. 

    Super Furry Animals

    Super Furry Animals

    Of course the rain started up again, but not too hard. We got some chips (fries) and hung to the side, stage left. The crowd went crazy when he played "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis. 

    We headed over to Maribou State at the Grand Pavillion. The crowd was nonexistent. But that's what you get when you play at the same time as Noel, the headliner. It got bigger mid-set though. It was a dance party. 

    Noel Gallagher

    Maribou State

    On stage, they had a pack of Moretti, a bottle of Sipsmith Gin and some mixers. These girls got to the front bar and kept chanting, "Sipsmith! Sipsmith!" The DJ confusingly held the bottle out to them. They shook their heads no and motioned for a photo. He obliged and they rejoiced. I'm pretty sure they worked for Sipsmith. Or at least I hope so. 

    A bit later, the same girls shouted, "The gin! The gin! Sipsmith!" This time they wanted the bottle. The DJ actually jumped down from the booth, gin in hand, and gave it to them. The guards kind of just let it happen. I mean, they'd been dancing with the crowd and joking around the whole time anyways. Also, they literally were bringing trays of water cups 'round to people in the front. So nice! 

    Later, the same girls called the DJ again. They somehow had a new, full bottle of gin. Maybe vodka? Maybe flavored water? I don't know. Regardless he came down and took it from them. Later in the set, he smelled it and shook his head to his band-mate. Something was off and they didn't drink it. I wonder what it actually was... 

    We successfully made it back to the yurt without falling and got a good night's sleep for our early shuttle ride back to the trains.

    Initially, we were going to head straight back to LA this day. But enough people talked us into staying longer that we extended our trip and spent a few days, including my birthday, in Manchester. (Post on that coming soon!)

    Throughout our trip, Emily and I traveled 12,140.5 miles by plane, 240.6 miles by train, 81.2 miles by automobile, and walked 64.21 miles with our own two legs! 

    Festival Number 6 was an experience I'll never forget. If I could give any advice to someone looking to go to a UK festival, it'd be: BRING YOUR WELLIES! (And a waterproof backpack can be really helpful, too!)

    Be seeing you...

    Free Press Summer Festival by Julia Walck

    This past weekend, I won tickets through work to attend Free Press Summer Festival in Houston, TX! 

    The night before our flight out, I saw Digitalism at the El Rey. They were AWESOME, but whoa. Note to self you'll be exhausted when you have to wake up at 4:30am the next day. 

    Our flight was delayed by 2 hours, but luckily we didn't miss anyone we wanted to see. Denise and I rolled up to the Air BnB, dropped off our things and headed to FPSF. 

    During the weekend I think I tallied 26, "Oh my god I love your rain boots!" or "Where did you get those?!" on my Jeffery Campbell glitter ankle rain boots. Form AND function? Plus, who can say no to glitter? Cheers to that.

    I'm really glad I brought them because Oh. My. God. The. Weather... Insanity. But we'll get into that later. 

    Day 1

    White Denim

    White Denim

    HOLY SHIT. If you ever have the chance to see White Denim live, do it!!! These guys seriously rock. One big massive jam sesh; they didn't even have a set list! (I know because I tried to snag one at the end). 

    During the set, I was next to this drunk girl who was in love with the drummer. She kept yelling, "Drum solo, drum solo!" The lead guitarist, James Petralli, heard her and announced to the crowd, "Sounds like we have a request for a drum solo." Screams and applause followed in anticipation. The drummer, Joshua Block, laughed nervously and shied away. James smiled and said, "Drum solo. Joshua, play a solo drum, once."

    Josh hit a drum and the crowd went wild. The band continued on to each do a "solo", which was basically doing one twang of a guitar or a single push on a keyboard. 

    I love when a band has fun rocking out, and comes equipped with a sense of humor and interaction with the crowd. 

    Jamie XX

    Modest Mouse

    We hung back at Jamie XX and people watched as the show went on. My favorite person was a guy intensely voguing yelling, "Twirl! And twirl! And twirl!"

    Modest Mouse always delivers. And when I say always, I mean the two times that I've seen them were rad. I also realized they sort of have a similar sound to Interpol, but with way different vocals. 

    During the day it rained every now and then, and there was even a rainbow!

    Rainy days ain't so bad

    Day 2

    Sunday morning before the festival we brunched and walked around in the Montrose area, which was surprisingly artsy. We spotted like 4 thrift stores, 3 antique shops and (not even joking) 15 tattoo parlours. 

    Summery vibes

    A door that opens quietly

    This was a bedding store...

    OK now back to the good stuff: the music.

    Wild Child

    Allen Stone

    Wild Child was a good, folksy start to our Sunday. Nice mellow jams to listen to while basking in the sun.

    Denise and I took a break for a while and hit up the Skyy Vodka tent (they were giving out free shots! [don't ask how many we had]), Malibu Beach House, got some beer and grabbed some grub. 

    Allen Stone was next. Um, great voice and even better hat! Man this guy has got some soul. I had never heard of him before, and I'm crazy happy I checked him out. They put on a REALLY good show. 

    Leon Bridges

    Continuing that soulful music was Leon Bridges. I don't need to say much here. He's fucking amazing.

    Denise and I then went our separate ways so I could catch Young the Giant and she could see Big Grams. Ten minutes until showtime, a guy came out on stage with a mic, but wasn't from the band. He announced that everyone had to evacuate the park due to severe weather conditions and possible thunderstorms in our area as reported by the National Weather Service. Mostly everyone at the fest was a local, and it seemed 100% normal to them. 

    Good thing it only lasted about an hour or so. 

    Young the Giant

    The National

    Young the Giant came out and said something like, "We've never had a gig where we're backstage literally two minutes before the show not knowing if we're actually playing or not."

    I NEED Sameer's sequin jacket in my life BTW.

    Watching The National play while it rained was great, because people couldn't tell the difference between raindrops and tears. Kidding. I didn't cry. However, I did have a moment when they sang "I Need my Girl". I imagined the lyrics with "man" instead; Jackson's in Spain right now and I haven't seen him for a week. Sappy stuff, ya know?

    Always looking up

    For our flight back on Monday, wake up time was 3:30. Tired is an understatement. I'm writing this on the plane at the moment actually. We're landing really soon, and when we do I'm heading home, dropping off my bags and driving to work. Because yes, I am insane. #workhardplayhard

    What a fun weekend though. Despite the travel, tiredness and weather, I'd do it again in a heartbeat (but first I'd invest in a sturdier poncho). 

    Until next time, Texas. <3