Finding Things to Do in a City You Plan to Visit

My personal preferred way to explore a new city is to take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour the first day. If you have a 48-hour ticket, you can ride around once to get an overview, then ride again with stop-overs at the places you found interesting.

Eiffel Tower in Paris, Photo by hillarywilliamtanner / Flickr
Eiffel Tower in Paris, Photo by hillarywilliamtanner / FlickrFlickr

Another idea, particularly if you want to meet some locals, is to check Eventbrite and Meetup for the city you plan to visit. I’ve found a multitude of happenings that way, mostly free.

New Southwest Credit Card Gives Easy, Quick 1-Yr Companion Pass

Wow! Get one credit card, spend $4K and you’ve got unlimited free (actually, $5.60) flights on Southwest Airlines for a companion for the rest of 2019.

If your FICO score is ~720+, and you don’t run a balance on your other credit card(s), and you sometimes fly Southwest with a friend/spouse/offspring/etc., this is a super deal.


Southwest plans to begin flying to Hawai’i this year.


References:

https://awardwallet.com/blog/southwest-companion-pass-welcome-bonus

My wife and I have enjoyed flying “free” with our Companion Passes for several years. Good luck!

Hiking In and Around Austin

Regular hiking is good for the body and the mind. Several Meetup groups have regular hikes in the Austin area, as does the Sierra Club and others.

I have regularly hiked with the Monday-Friday Hikers for 7+ years. Most of us in the group do not work a regular 9-to-5 job, so our hikes begin at 9:30 AM. We usually walk for 1 to 3 hours.

We do not recruit new members directly. Instead, we encourage people to take the “Hiking Austin Trails” course given by Austin’s Lifetime Learning Institute. Tuition for that course is just $20, and it meets 8 times for hikes on some of the same trails that the Mon-Fri Hikers frequent. Anyone who is comfortable with the Hiking Austin Trails hikes is welcome to join us.

Cirque Italia Coming to Austin

Cirque Italia is sending its Silver Unit to Austin for January 24 through February 3 (some days and evenings) performances. Cirque Italia is the “first traveling water circus in the U.S., featuring aerialists, acrobats, clowns and strongmen performing above a 35,000-gallon water-tank stage.”

The performances will be held under a blue & white tent at Barton Creek Square Mall.

You can buy tickets for $21 plus ~$3 taxes (add $10 for the closest seats) through TravelZoo. During the purchase, apply coupon TZOO in order to see the discounted price.

Those Giant Christmas Ornaments at the Mall

Christmas Decoration at Barton Mall
Christmas Decoration at Barton Mall

I’ve been thinking about those large spherical Christmas ornaments on display at Barton Creek Square Mall. Are they rigid, or do they somehow fold into a smaller shape for storage?

Recently I saw one in a non-spherical status, and that explained everything. They are inflatables, like the Santa on my front lawn.

The fan is in the top, hidden by the red ribbons. Power for the fan comes from above.  Internal access is accomplished (probably) by a zipper under the flap of material to the right of the top. The ball is held open by air pressure.

I doubt that many others wondered about this, but it has puzzled me for at least 2 years. Now I know.

Lifetime Learning Institute of Austin, A Valuable Resource for Persons Age 50+

LLI LogoLifetime Learning Institute of Austin (LLIAustin.org) has been in operation for over 40 years, providing economical classes on an eclectic range of topics. The primary group served is persons 50+.

Registration for the Spring 2019 semester opens on January 16, but it’s not too early to take a look at the classes that were offered in the Fall because many will also be available in the Spring.

Many LLI classes fill up within hours, so it pays to register as soon as possible. You can take a look at the list here to see which Fall classes filled (shown in red) and which still had room.

I usually take 2 or 3, sometimes 4, LLI classes each semester. My favorites are T’ai Chi (Taiji) and Qigong, and Yoga Fit. This time I enrolled in classes about American Comedy Films, Exercise for Men and Women, and India. My other recommendations are How to Listen to Classical Music, and Geology.

LLI is run as a non-profit by volunteers, and part of what keeps Austin wonderfully weird.

Austin Classes for Retired Seniors

Lifetime Learning Institute LogoAustin is home to to the Lifetime Learning Institute (LLI), which offers educational classes on a variety of subjects at the bargain price of just $20 per course. The Fall list of classes is out, and online registration starts tomorrow, August 15.

Lifetime Learning Institute runs on volunteer labor, as it has for over 40 years. The teachers are often retired UT professors or other educational professionals. With a few exceptions, each course consists of 8 sessions, one session per week. Classes are held in churches or similar locations that offer free parking.

Perhaps the most popular LLI class is “Hiking Austin Trails”, which meets Mondays at 9:30 AM.

You can see a simple list of the classes here, but it’s better to go to the actual LLI website and see full descriptions. Printed class catalogs are available in Austin libraries…look for the bright green cover.

We are so fortunate to have a resource like LLI in Austin! I take several classes in the Fall and also in the Spring.

What to Do During a Long Airport Layover

American AirlinesI was talking with a friend this morning about a long layover he had a few days ago. He was flying from Austin to Charlotte via DFW, in order to attend a family get-together. His American Airlines flight from DFW to Charlotte was cancelled, and he had to wait several hours for the next available seat.

The information in this well-done article at CreditCards.com would have helped him:

https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/long-airport-layover-credit-card-tips.php

It’s good to read these tips, because everyone who flies will sometimes be in the same situation as my friend.