Best Place to Renew Passports in Austin

"Waiting at the Passport Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO200
“Waiting at the Passport Office” Austin, 2019

こんばんは。Today I took my two sons to get their passports renewed at the University of Texas International Office. In the past, we’ve gone to the post office to take care of it, but a friend recommended the UT International Office, and the reviews are fantastic, so we decided to give it a try.

I have to agree that this is the best way to get your passport renewed (or apply for a new one) in person in Austin! The staff was so friendly, the wait time was minimal, and they even offer photo services for cheaper than Walgreens.

I was nervous about going here during spring break because I heard it can get crowded. But really, it’s a great time to do it because you don’t have to take your kids out of school which is important if they are high school age. Plus, during spring break, there’s hardly any traffic. We arrived when the office opened (8 am) and parked at the San Antonio Garage, which is just across the street. The cost was US $6.

There was a short line at the UT International Office, as you can see in the photo above, but it was shorter I was expecting. I think we waited for about 15 minutes before reaching the reception desk, where the friendly staff member made sure we had all of our documents (including check to the US Dept of State) in order, placed everything into a plastic folder for us, and told us to wait for a txt which would let us know it was time for us to head upstairs for the actual processing. The waiting area is small but comfortable. It was such a nice environment compared to the post office!

After 10 more minutes, we received the message and took the elevator up to the 2nd floor where we turned in our document packet to another worker (also super-friendly), who double-checked everything, and then we sat down while they processed the application (or whatever they needed to do). If you need a photo, they will take it upstairs. I think the fee is US $13. Next time, I’d save the trip to Walgreens and just get the photo done (for cheaper) there at the UT International Office.

"International Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/50 sec, ISO800
“International Office” Austin, 2019

10 minutes later we were called back to the counter and took oaths stating that everything on the applications was true, then paid the US $35 service fee, listened to a detailed explanation of what would happen next, how long it would take to receive the passports, and received a paper that had instructions on how to check the status of the application. I have to say again that the staff members were so helpful, friendly, and clear about everything. The University of Texas International Office is SO MUCH BETTER than the post office for handling passport applications. I recommend anyone in the Austin area use them.

"Passport Takeaway" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/60 sec, ISO640
“Passport Takeaway” Cedar Park, 2019

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

Friday Five – 2019.03.22

  1. What is your least favorite part of Spring?
    I honestly can’t think of anything. I guess I’m a true optimist.
  2. What is your most favorite part of Spring?
    A few things to choose from, but I guess the longer days, and with the time change here in the States, it’s still light out at 7pm!
  3. What is the latest good book you’ve read?
    The Lost Temple of Ssis’sythyss (The Dungeoneers Book 3) by Jeffery Russell. Lots of fun fantasy adventuring!
  4. What are your plans for this weekend?
    Some yardwork and generic relaxing. It’s been a few years since we got a backyard deck and it needs re-staining so I have the kids tasked to clean it first.
  5. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?
    What’s a woodchuck?

By the way, this Friday Five was inspired by Kat of the blog “Escapades of the Elusive Kat”, whom I’ve been following for years.

We Tried a New, Nearby Ramen Restaurant

"Black Tonkotsu Ramen" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/35 sec, ISO800
“Black Tonkotsu Ramen” Cedar Park, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Tonight the boys and I went to a newly opened ramen restaurant that’s located near our house. EurAsia Ramen offers several different types of ramen, poké bowls, and sushi rolls. By looking at the website, I suspected that the restaurant wasn’t Japanese-owned so I wasn’t expecting a typical Japanese ramen experience, but I’m open-minded and willing to give a new restaurant a chance.

I decided on the Signature EurAsia Black Tonkotsu Ramen, while Koa got the Miso Ramen, and Bay tried the California Poké. The portions were a little on the small size for the price. I’d expect to pay about US $8.00 for the amount we received, but it wasn’t too unreasonable.

On to the important part, which is taste. I rate the ramen I had a 5 out of 10. It wasn’t bad, but not great. The flavor of the broth was a little bland, and the noodles were very thin. The noodles in Koa’s Miso ramen were thicker and eggier… not sure why. There was a good amount of charsiu pork in the bowl, which was nice, however, it had a generic “hammy” taste, almost like a spiral ham you might eat at Easter or Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Bay’s poké bowl was unimpressive, with the main ingredient “snow crab mix” being just a lot of surimi. Not great.

Of course, I want local restauranteurs to succeed, and I think EurAsia Ramen might do ok because the dishes are “good enough” for those who may not be as particular about ramen as I am, but I don’t think I’ll be back. There are simply better ramen offerings in Austin, such as Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Daruma Ramen.

またね~

"Poké Bowl" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/25 sec, ISO800
“Poké Bowl” Cedar Park, 2019