Wednesday, April 14, 2004
The lovely and elegant Driskill Hotel...
One of my favorite things to do while visiting my relatives in the Austin, Texas , is going to downtown Austin. Since my folks now live north of the Capitol, in the thriving and bustling city of Round Rock, we don't always make it into the big city anymore.
But this time, my sister Lisa insisted that we needed to make the trek. So we piled our families into two vehicles and headed southward.
First, we parked on Congress Street (it was a beautiful night, breezy and not too warm), and walked up to the Capitol. It was closed for the night, so we were only able to get as far as the front steps, but it was worth the walk. I've been inside the building several times, so I can vouch for its beauty and impressiveness.
We then walked back down Congress to Sixth Street. Now, that was quite an experience. I've never heard as much live music going on in an area of just a few blocks as I did that night, even in downtown Nashville. There was an undeniable sense of excitement and raw energy in the air. I've known that Sixth Street has been the birthplace of a lot of well-known musicians and bands, and that Austin has become recognized as one of the live-music centers of the U.S. I saw that firsthand as we strolled past bars and pubs from which emanated the pungent odor of alcohol, the tempting aroma of Texas cooking, and the battling bass beats of rock, hip-hop and alt-country music--some bands performing right next door to each other.
My husband and I talked later, though, about the strong aura of modern-day Vanity Fair that pervaded the Sixth Street atmosphere. Young, beautiful college girls not much older than my Elizabeth were dressed to tempt ( or should I say "undressed"), and no doubt many of them would be going home with guys who were no more than strangers to them. We agreed that it was fascinating to visit the scene of such energy, but we wouldn't want to "live there." That kind of life really holds no appeal for us.
A highlight of the evening, for me anyway, was stepping into the lovely and elegant Driskill Hotel on Brazos Street. The picture I've posted is the scene that greeted me as we walked into the lobby of this gorgeous facility. The gracious and genteel opulence reminded me of a scene from the movie, "Titanic."
Lisa had insisted we go inside, saying it was the oldest hotel in Austin. (It proved fortuitous, as all the females in the group needed to use the ladies' room anyway.) I immediately fell in love with the Driskill, and I would love to stay there some day, even for a night.
Of course, I had to do a little research on the history of the Driskill. Apparently it was built by Texas cattle baron Jesse Driskill in 1886. (Interesting trivia note: the Driskill was the site of Lyndon B. Johnson's first date with his future wife, Lady Bird, in 1934.)
Of course, like any self-respecting old hotel, the Driskill is supposedly haunted--by more than one ghost, in fact, including Colonel Driskill himself. He reportedly makes his presence known by the smell of cigar smoke. For more on the ghosts of the Driskill, click here.
I encourage you to check out this link , where you can even view a short video about the hotel. What an incredibly beautiful place!