Spring Break 2018. 2 days in Chicago, 5 days in Austin

The twins had their Spring Break last week and for a couple of months now we have been wondering what to do this holiday break. Most of the country as you know is COLD ❄️🌨☃️! We Californians don’t like the cold much – at least our family doesn’t.  We were in a dilemma as to where to go for this spring break. So why Chicago and why Austin you wonder? Well, Chicago came about as our destination because of Rani.  Rani plays cello in her school orchestra and they were participating in an International Music Festival in Chicago at the beginning of their spring break. We went to Chicago to see Rani’s orchestra, and that’s how we ended up in freezing cold Chicago.


Why Austin? UT Austin (University of Texas at Austin) is where Hitesh and I met and eventually got married.  We really wanted to show the kids as Hitesh put it, “Where it all began, because if it weren’t for UT Austin, you kids wouldn’t be here.”  Can you believe that I haven’t been back to Austin since I graduated over 28 years ago! It was about time I headed back to my favorite city in Texas. We were planning on visiting over the summer but my cousin Pradeep who is a doctor in Austin said, “No way, it’s way too hot, you will be miserable. The best time to come is spring.”  So this spring break we decided to head to Austin, Texas! That’s how we spent our spring break in these two vastly different cities.

Austin, Texas
Chicago, Illinois

2 Days in Chicago

Rani’s orchestra was performing on Sunday, April 1st. We flew into Chicago on Friday night so we could spend the weekend exploring the city before the concert Sunday night.

View from our hotel in downtown Chicago





Day 1, Saturday March 31st. Walking tour of the city.

On Saturday we spent a relaxing day walking around the city of Chicago. We were so so lucky that the temperatures were not freezing like we had expected! The temperatures were actually a pleasant 40s and 50s!!  We felt like we were back home in cold California 😊.   More about our walking tour of the city in my next post!


Day 2. Sunday, April 1st:  The American Writers Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millenium Park & Rani’s Concert.

Man we packed a ton of stuff on this Sunday! We started our day off with a visit to a new museum in the city that Anjali found out about and insisted we check out called the American Writers Museum.  What an awesome off the beaten path museum this is!!  Positively outstanding and unique, and like no other museum we have been to. I will do a more detailed post on this uniquely American museum.



The Art Institute of Chicago:

We were told this is a must see in Chicago and so we checked out The Art Institute of Chicago. Like any other world renowned museum this also had major art pieces by famous artists from Monet to Degas to Van Gogh, including an extensive Japanese wood block print collection, African ceremonial pieces, South American cultural pieces, Chinese art, and a lot more. But you know what really made this museum unique and like no other museum we have been too?  And I can thank Anjali for discovering this exhibit all the way in the basement no less!  It’s the museum’s Miniature Rooms Gallery.  So cool folks! I will be doing a more detailed post on the Art Institute of Chicago and the miniature gallery in another post.



Millennium Park

After spending a couple of hours at the Art Institute we walked by Chicago’s famous landmarks Millennium Park and the Bean.

Ending the day with Rani’s Concert at the Chicago Symphony Hall.

After our museum visits we grabbed dinner at Giordanos for Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza before heading to see Rani’s orchestra perform at the Chicago Symphony Hall. Rani’s school was one of 6 schools from all over the country performing at the Chicago International Music Festival.

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It was a great ending to a perfect weekend in Chicago. Even better made by the fact that Rani’s school orchestra won Gold at the festival!




5 Days in Austin, Texas

We spent the rest of our spring break holiday in Austin, Texas. OMG Austin in the spring is spectacular! The weather was a lovely 60s and 70s! Wildflowers in bloom everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Beautiful blue bluebonnets, yellow blanket flowers, pink wildflowers, wildflowers as far as the eye can see in Austin! Just gorgeous!




Day 1. April 2nd, Monday night. Arrived in Austin.

We arrived in Austin on a Monday evening for our week long Austin vacation. My cousin Pradeep who lives in Austin with his beautiful wife Rushmi and three kids Taj, Neela, and Sameena had invited us for dinner that evening.  What a great time we had seeing Pradeep and family!





Pradeep and Rushmi have a gorgeous modern style home in Austin with a view of the state capitol you all!



Rushmi made a delicious light dinner of Brussels sprouts salad and an eggplant bake, with dessert of local ice cream and strawberry compote made with strawberries that their daughter Sameena had picked on her school field trip. The eggplant bake was outstanding! I will be getting the recipe and share that soon.  Ice cream with strawberry compote was delectable. Rushmi made it with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil 😋. I’ll be giving this recipe a try once our strawberry season begins!



Dinner with our cousins was the perfect beginning to what turned into an amazing vacation in Austin, Texas!


Day 2. Tuesday, April 3rd.  Tour the campus of University of Texas at Austin. Visit the LBJ Museum. 

On Tuesday we toured our alma mater UT Austin! Hitesh was eager to show the kids where we went to school and where we met! Stopped by the Computer Science building, which is a shiny new building now and also stopped by the Business School where I got my degree.  More on the UT Campus and the fun eats we had on the university strip!


The LBJ Museum – What an amazing museum! The things this President accomplished for the better of our country is mind-blowing!  Truly an inspirational President Lyndon B Johnson was. I will do a more extensive post on this visit to the LBJ Museum in Austin, Texas.




Day 3. Wednesday, April 4th. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center & Boat Cruise on the Colorado River.

What a fun and amazing day this day turned out to be!!! Our plan for the day was to stop by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We were not prepared for the amazing wildflowers we saw at this wonderful garden! I will do a more extensive post on this spectacular excursion of ours!



Boat cruise on the river: On Wednesday evening my cousin had arranged for a boat cruise on the Colorado river and dinner at a local burger joint on the shore. This was an outstanding boat trip with wonderful company, perfect 60s and 70s temperatures, and beautiful scenery. More on this boat trip in another post.



Day 4. Thursday, April 5th.  A day trip to Natural Bridge Caverns.

Wow!  Hitesh and the kids were in awe of this trip. I remember going to Natural Bridge Caverns with my family as a teenager when I was living in Texas and I wanted the kids to experience the same awe and wonderment that I had when I went.  It was just as awe inspiring as the first time I saw it over 35 years ago! More on this excursion in my next post.



Day 5.  Friday, April 6th. Visit to Hitesh’s Austin office and flight home. 

On our last day of our Austin vacation we started the morning with breakfast tacos at popular food truck vendor Veracruz.



Stopped by Hitesh’s Austin office after breakfast. What a fun office this is with a great bunch of folks! They have a segway at the office and Anjali had to give it a go!


This was a great way to end our vacation in Austin, Texas!


I look forward to sharing with you more about all the unique places we visited on our trip to Chicago, Illinois and Austin, Texas. I hope you enjoy reading about our excursions as much as we enjoyed visiting these outstanding sites. See you on my next blog post.

17 thoughts on “Spring Break 2018. 2 days in Chicago, 5 days in Austin”

  1. Fun post. I’m sure you enjoyed retracing history with the twins. A great story of boy meets girl😉 and as they say the rest is living history 💑.
    Since you are an archivist, I was hoping you’d include pictures of the two of you back then😉. I bet you looked just as cute together then as you do now 😊😊❤️.
    Congratulations to Rani’s school for winning gold🏆It’s awesome to be part of a winning team. Thanks for taking us along on the trip.

    1. The twins definitely heard a lot from Hitesh during our tour of UT about how how we met, where we hung out, etc. – surprisingly the twins were all ears 😀 I never thought of digging up our old 30 year photos of us in college 😀. Gald you enjoyed this nostalgic journey Stella!

  2. What a fun time!!! DJ and I have wanted to visit Austin for a while now- you just made me want to visit even more! And that eggplant bake is making my mouth water- yum!

    1. You will love Austin Machenzie!! It’s the perfect town for youngsters like you and DJ! Lots of cool things to do that we couldnt do like check out music bands, and hang out at outdoor bars and tapas lounges because we had the twins with us.

      I know right, that eggplant bake was delicious! I have to get the recipe so I can share the recipe with all!

  3. Thanks for taking us to Chicago and Austin! Beautiful pictures!

    Congrats Rani!

    Greater reader you have! Great job reading all those books Anjali!

    And Kalpana, she knows that there is a greater writer in the family already!

    Look forward to other posts of the trip.


    1. Anjali is our reader in the family just like my husband. She can go through a book a day if allowed, has read the Iliad, Dr. Zivago, all the classic, Greek mythology – she is a teen jeaporday potential. Funnily the one thing she doesn’t enjoy is acutally writing – which is too bad because she has the most insightful mature thoughts that come out of that little teenager head.

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