Welcome to day 3 of Marfa – well, to be accurate, today is mostly spent in Alpine, the neighbour town where we Airbnb’d at. Alpine is unsurprisingly tiny in an adorable walkable way. The most important and exciting task today is to hike the Hancock hill behind Sur Ross University to look for the abandoned desk on top of the hill.
Desk on the Hill
Story is, a few students carried an abandoned desk all the way to the top of this mountain, left a notebook and pen for visitors to leave their marks. How spontaneous and creative!
How to get to the mountain: park at the back of Sur Ross University, find a metal bench at the bottom of the hill and start hiking up from there. Don’ t need to remind you to look back during the hike to take in the expansive view — something about the minimalistic plain fields makes the experience quite meditative. We even spotted a family of deers on the way, mom, dad, and 2 baby deers!
I will say that the desk was damn hard to find. It took about 30-40 minutes since we started to finally spot a tree with a broken bicycle and a few steps further the desk revealed itself. Past the brief frustration of not knowing how much further we should attempt, it was quite a sense of accomplishment to finally find it, sitting on the cliff facing a golden plain field. Definitely one of the most unique and unexplainable travel experiences to have.
Cedar Coffee Supply is a must-visit in Alpine, not just for the stylish decor and lavender infused lattes, but also for the TYPE. From the menu to the apparel merchandise, the type was completely on-point.
Chubby round sans-serif letters, loose spacing, symmetries, and even vertical text – was so busy admiring that I almost left my latte to turn cold.
Thanks for the charming memories. You’ve been an absolute gem.
Welcome to day 2 of the Marfa, Texas travel guide! Let me warn you first that today is going to be magical, stimulating, and relaxing. On our list: Do your thing Coffee, Thunderbird Hotel, Chinati Foundation, Food Shark, El Cosmico, and the Capri restaurant. Marfa is tiny and walkable. You’ll find minimalism and simplicity everywhere, yet every little detail will surprise you in the most delightful way possible.
But first Coffee!
Start the day with an excellent latte and some fancy toast at Do Your Thing Coffee. This cozy spot feels like chilling at your best friend’s home. The barista’s dog, George, is such a darling who likes cuddling up beside the fireplace and interact with customers. The latte was reminiscent of 49th Parallel coffee from Vancouver – nutty. The honey butter toast was so delish I had to make a note to make them at home.
Thunderbird Hotel Charm
You’ll soon realize how tiny Marfa is when you can easily walk to the next spot on your itinerary in 10 minutes… We hopped to Thunderbird hotel and grabbed our second coffee at its restaurant Capri across the road. This is also where you’ll find the infamous “See mystery lights” sign! Capri is absolutely charming with a cozy fireplace, the most amazing bar and emerald green bar stools, glass to ceiling windows, and the most friendly service. We loved it so much we came back at night for dinner!
Chinati Foundation – Judd’s artwork
Minimalist artist Donald Judd is pretty much the guy who put Marfa on the map. He bought up the former military installation here to be turned into a contemporary museum. His outdoor work “Untitled” consists of 15 concrete bricks on an empty field – open to your interpretation. Mine were a muddled cocktail of words like “hollow, light and shadow, repeating lines, silhouettes, geometries, clarity, emptiness…”
Lunch at Food Shark
This is the most anticipated moment of the day. Sorry food is always the most anticipated moment and GOSH FOOD SHARK WAS SO DARN COOL! We grabbed lamb platter and pulled pork sandwich and wait for it… you dine in the Food Shark Bus!!! No joke, these guys turned a school bus into a diner with leather seats and wooden tables AND an inflatable blue alien chilling in the back. It’s just so bizarre and funny. The food of course was absolutely amazing by every standard. In fact we devoured it so quick that there was no time for photos 😉
This was hilarious. The Wrong store is known for rare and unusual trinkets so of course it was a must-go on my list. I initially laughed at the smart name, joking about how we’re going to the “wrong store”… And we got here only to find out it was closed, with a sign that said “dental appointment, closed today, please come back tomorrow”. How adorably small-town is this!? Of course I came back the next day. The owner was probably more entertaining than the items for sale;)
The Magical El Cosmico
This super hip camp ground was the most highly recommended place to stay in Marfa – and I can see why. Take our pick of trailer or Yurt or Teepee, share a drink by the bon-fire with your neighbours at night and stare at the stars – it’d be quite magical. Though since we came here during February, we would’ve certainly frozen our butts off to use the outdoor showers. Hence we ended up staying at a AirBnB. Whether you end up staying here, it’s a must-visit.
Dinner at the Capri
Told ya we’d be back for dinner! Evening at Capri was so alive, order a Mezcal Old Fashioned and a classic margarita and enjoy the jazz over firewood crackling. Did I mention, the interior was designed by Hollywood set designer Sean Daly, and Chef Rocky Barnette came from a Michelin star restaurant near D.C.? We had foie gras app, tangerine radish salad, fragrant beef brisket, roast chicken, and duck confit. All 5/5 and seriously the perfect ending to the day.
(Ok if you made it this far, I’ll admit we also dropped by the Marfa light observatory to look for the infamous Marfa Lights. It was darn freezing and windy and we barely stayed for 5 minutes. Nonetheless, we saw some blurred orbs of lights far in the empty field. I don’t know if you can be certain of anything blurry and far away and dark, we’re gona go with “yup saw Marfa lights!”).
It all started with a catch up over coffee with my friend T, who brought up this mysterious artsy place called Marfa. “People are starting to write about this place, We should go before it gets too popular!” – she said. I was feeling spontaneous and said YES! Fast forwarding to a month later and a day after coming back, I already miss Marfa! The minimalism of it, the smallness, quietness, quirkiness, and the super friendly chilled people there, made the 4 day trip feel like a soul cleansing. It does take some time and effort to get to Marfa, you’ll see soon why it’s worth it.
Are we there yet!?
I won’t lie, the travel took an entire day… Basically, 2 options coming from Toronto. A: direct flight to Austin, then 6 hours drive. B: 2 flights to El Paso, then 2.5 hours drive. We took option B, and as you can see from my capture of El Paso from the plane, how amazing is this sick pattern of scattered shrubs of vegetation in sand!? Can already imagine it on the next packaging design of Mast Brothers #amiright?
Prada Marfa + Sunset = Magic
We grabbed some Flautas and pork tacos for lunch in El Paso (absolutely delish) and started the drive. Funny story: on route we were stopped by the boarder inspection K-9 (ie. majestic and kind of cute police dog that apparently sensed suspicious odour in our car). It was a rental car that probably had previous customers who smoked some mischievous material in. We were let go after a long inspection but T was still sweating bullets at the thought of the consequences if the previous drivers had left anything.
2 hours 20 minutes later, just off Highway 90, we reached the spontaneous brick of art that is Prada Marfa. Guess we were detained just the right amount of time that we arrived at the beginning of a golden sunset. Absolutely mesmerizing… Occasional trucks that pass by welcomed us with friendly honks, amazing start already.
Dinner at Hotel Paisano
It was dark by the time we arrived in Marfa. Dinner first at the super charming Hotel Paisano (which feels like a vintage European gathering salon for artists)… We had a delicious margarita, pistachio fried steak, cranberry cashew salad, and curry salmon. Everything was fantastic and service was terrific. What a hospitable cozy town! Stay tuned for a full day at Marfa on Day 2!
The holiday vibes are slowly creeping up on me and I get creative when I feel festive. So… some creative projects cooking in the pot may or may not include photoshoot with animals…
In the mean time, here are some iPhone sneak preview of a week-long trip to New York to visit business design firms and of course… a checklist of coffee shops. Will be back (setting up another trail of broken promises) with a proper report 😉