Tales of the Texas Tweetup

Often when you read tales of women going to meet people they’ve met on the Internet, it usually ends in disaster, murder, mayhem, and the like. So when I told my friends and family that I was going to spend the weekend in Austin with people I’d “met” on Twitter, they were a bit concerned. Nobody was surprised, really, because that just sounded like something I’d do.

What exactly is this Twitter? Why would you want to spend the weekend with people you’ve never met before? What if y’all hate each other? What if one turns out to be a serial stalker? What if you catch somebody collecting your hair and putting it in a plastic baggie?

After a cleansing breath and a quick roll of the eyes, I answered,“What if they are the most bad-ass group of people, I make life-long friends, and have the time of my life?”

I made the familiar three-hour drive to Austin on a Friday afternoon; however, this was anything but my usual trip. After dropping the dogs off with my dad and picking up some wine, I made my way to downtown, specifically to the Four Seasons. Waiting in #817 was my roommate for the weekend, Lauren DiMarco.

Haggard from the day and loaded down with luggage, wine, and cameras, I banged on the door. I was greeted by Lauren and her broad smile and blonde hair. Arms stretched out, she hugged me and said,

“Aren’t you just so cute?”

I quickly realized that despite living in the Northeast for 18 years, Lauren hadn’t forgotten her Texas manners: Lead with a compliment even if it’s not true. She was a ball of fire with energy to burn; I was going to need copious amounts of coffee and Red Bull to keep up with her. The conversation flowed, and I knew that I wouldn’t be murdered in my sleep. Although, I’m not sure if Lauren realized it as quickly.

There wasn’t much time to relax or enjoy the chocolate goodies the Four Seasons sent to our room, we had a happy hour to get to.  It was time to get our Texas Tweeup on!

Austin8

Through Twitter, we’d invited Austin-area travel bloggers (or anyone else), to meet us at TRIO, the Four Season’s awesome restaurant. Monday through Saturday, TRIO has a fantastic happy hour menu featuring half-price wines and a bounty of delicious nibbles. Lauren and I made our way down to the restaurant where we were greeted by Kerri Holden, the Director of Public Relations for the hotel, her colleague, Sarah Sholtis, and reserved tables covered with a variety of food. What a thoughtful gesture!

Derek and Jen were already there. Shortly after, Amy and Rod of GoPetFriendly.com showed up. Later, photographer, Whitney, arrived. For the next few hours, we got to know one another, chatted about travel, sipped on wine, and chowed down on appetizers. Throughout the happy hour(s), I kept thinking how cool it was to bring a group of people together, people I’d probably never met otherwise, based solely on a passion for travel. And bonus! No one was kidnapped, maimed, or murdered.

Austin5

We  said our goodbyes, and Lauren and I took off to Guero’s Taco Bar to meet two more of our Texas Tweetup pals, Kirk and Kristy. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make the happy hour as they drove in from Dallas. Lauren and I had been tweeting with Kirk for months, so it felt like we were dining with an old friend. I loved putting a face to a tweet!

Austin7

We gorged ourselves on Mexican food and margaritas as we chatted away. Before we knew it, a couple of hours had passed, and the Continental Club was calling our names from across South Congress Avenue. Since 1957, the Continental Club has been the place to go for live music in Austin. Other places have come and gone, but the Continental Club is still a rockin’ good time.

The night chill grabbed and shook me, giving me a burst of energy. Not being much of a drinker or a late-night gal, it was something I desperately needed. Music and laughter poured out of the Continental Club’s doors, and that drew Lauren and me in like moths to flames. Kirk and Kristy weren’t so sure. They, instead, opted for the fabled 6th Street; Kristy had never been. We said our goodbyes for the night and made plans for breakfast the next morning.

Austin3

We paid the $10 cover and walked up to the bar and ordered two Stellas.

“That’ll be $8, hon.”

Shocked and bewildered at the low price, we burst out laughing. However, the bartender confused our behavior with sticker shock.

“Well, they do have to bring it all the way from Belgium!”

Still laughing, we smiled, agreed, and went on about our business. The band taking the stage was called Two Hoots and a Holler. We’d never heard of them, but judging by the crowd, they were going to be fun. Lauren and I were the only two that didn’t appear to be in costume. Mostly it looked like a casting call for some spaghetti western. Rhinestones, feathers, bright colors, and flashy boots were everywhere, and that was just the men. The women looked like a cross between Bettie Page and Dita Von Teese. It was FABULOUS!

We meandered through the small, dim club looking at all the characters and humming along to the band. An impromptu dance floor in front of the stage showcased people dancing the jitterbug. We saw a girl that busted her ass, laughed as she got up, and then continued to dance. That’s what the Continental Club is about. There’s no pretense, and the order of the evening is fun.

Still sipping on my $4 Stella, I felt my pocket vibrate. It was Raul. Coming in for the Texas Tweetup from Atlanta, Raul was bumped up to first class on both legs of his flights. That was the good news. The bad news was that his connection in Memphis was delayed. He’d made it to Austin, checked into his hotel, but was tired. We would see him Saturday morning for breakfast.

I slid my phone into my back pocket, walked back into the club, and found Lauren. It was time to call it a night; we had a full Saturday ahead. After popping into the tattoo shop next door, we hailed a cab. A quick five-minute ride back to the Four Seasons and we were where our night had begun. I paid the cabbie and slid into the lobby. I couldn’t wait to wash the evening’s fun off of me and get on my pajamas.

Austin2

It was such a fantastic night…up until the point where I realized my camera was on the wrong setting and I lost my iPhone.

Damn!

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26 Comments
  • Kristin VanderHey Shaw via Facebook
    January 31, 2012

    How fun, Leah! I hope I get to meet you next time you’re in town. I may have to meet you during the day with my cute 2yo, though. 🙂

  • Leah Travels via Facebook
    January 31, 2012

    Yes! I can certainly do that. We’ll have a mellow, kid-friendly Texas Tweetup. 🙂

  • Kristin VanderHey Shaw via Facebook
    January 31, 2012

    He can already work my iPod and Blackberry. He’ll have his own handle soon.

  • Leah Travels via Facebook
    January 31, 2012

    As it should be. He’ll be learning his ABCs from an iPad before you know it.

  • Kristin VanderHey Shaw via Facebook
    January 31, 2012

    Eh. he already knows them and is counting in Italian. My little future world traveler!

  • Leah Travels via Facebook
    January 31, 2012

    Shows how much I know about kids. Ha! I don’t even know how to count in Italian. Good for him. You’re obviously raising him to appreciate the best things in life: travel!

  • Amy@GoPetFriendly
    January 31, 2012

    Dang – it looks like we missed out on a fun evening! I hope we get the chance to do it again some time.

    • Leah Travels
      January 31, 2012

      It was fun, Amy. Maybe a little too much fun based on my phone incident! I’m so glad y’all came. We will have to do it again!

  • Leah Travels
    January 31, 2012

    See, there you go again with the over-the-top-compliments. Just one of the reasons why I simply adore you!

  • Raul (ilivetotravel in Twitter)
    January 31, 2012

    Love it! My Friday night was not even 1% of what it would have been if my flight hadn’t been delayed!

    • Leah Travels
      January 31, 2012

      You missed out on a great night, that’s for sure. But had you made it out, you might not have felt well enough to join us for Saturday. That was a great day with you. I’ll write about it soon. 🙂

  • Shauna
    January 31, 2012

    Great story! I cant WAIT to visit Texas, I think it will be my heaven, all those boots and sequins. I’ve only met a few ppl from Twitter, but it has been fab so far!

    • Leah Travels
      January 31, 2012

      I’ll see you, my dear, in Austin in September! Texas is the land of big skies and bigger dreams. You’ll love it. I bet you might even hear Reba McEntire on the radio! 😉

      • Shauna
        February 1, 2012

        hahaha! I’m counting on it! 😀

  • Ryan
    January 31, 2012

    Sounds like a wild night, everytime I lost an iPhone (6 to date) it always meant the night before was great! But totally bummed you lost it!

    I am really dying to get into these travel blogger meetups, they sound awesome! Where do you hear about all of them? Btw Sode Note-ABC’s go up this week!

    • Leah Travels
      February 1, 2012

      Well, wasn’t exactly a wild night. The thing is that I can narrow the time down to 30 minutes from when I had the phone to when I didn’t. I’m 98% sure I set it down in the cab when I dug around in my purse for my wallet. I believe I left it on the seat of the cab. Ugh. No matter. I was due for an upgrade anyway. I did cry like a baby a little though.

      As far as the travel blogger meetups, this one grew organically. It started as an off-handed comment on #TNI and went from there. I would say Lauren really spear-headed the project. We’re now talking about one in Chicago. There are some more organized ones in NYC and DC that meet on a regular basis. I think that Matt at Landlopers could point you in the right direction for the DC one. The NYC one has a Facebook page, but I can’t remember the name right now.

      Can’t wait to read your ABCs!

  • Derek
    February 1, 2012

    It was a fun night indeed, glad we had the chance to get together in real life. Next time we crossed paths it had better be in a foreign country! 😉

    Take care and keep in touch… and never stop traveling!

    • Leah Travels
      February 1, 2012

      Yes, 100%! #TexasTweetup goes international! I like it. Glad you and Jen could make it. Loved visiting with y’all.

  • Jillian
    February 4, 2012

    I loved this post. You’re getting me all revved up for TBEX’12. I’m thinking of getting a condo and packing in a few adventurous travel writers. Let’s keep in touch!!

    • Leah Travels
      February 4, 2012

      Thanks so much! Yes, let’s keep in touch. There are two other ladies that I will be meeting up with too. We haven’t settled on where we’re staying, but I’ve looked. There are tons of options. Let me know what you come up with too!

  • Jody
    February 7, 2012

    love your sharing…

    • Leah Travels
      February 8, 2012

      Thanks, Jody. We had a great time. I’ll have a part two later. 🙂

  • Ayngelina
    February 12, 2012

    The first time I met a travel blogger it was Abby from The Jungle Princess, I was really nervous. But after her I have met tons in the last 18 months and many times I feel like I already know them.

    I may be coming to Texas in July, maybe there will be another tweet-up 🙂

    • Leah Travels
      February 12, 2012

      First off, bless your heart. Texas in July is brutal. Where are you visiting? I’ll be happy to offer my $.02 worth. It’s really cool to meet other travel bloggers, and I hope to meet more. It’s almost like a first date, at least from what I remember that to be like. We’re already planning another one in Chicago in May. There’s talk of getting a Houston one together too. If you’d like to know more, I’d be happy to share with you as we make more plans. Thanks for stopping by.

  • John
    June 22, 2012

    So basically fun times with friends? I think I get it, and I’m definitely interested!

    • Leah Travels
      June 23, 2012

      That’s it! Nothing too taxing, just a lot of fun with like-minded people.

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