One chilly day in January, my roommate Nicole DiPonziano and I , were sitting at our usual South Philly coffee shop, chatting about our same old topics including get rich quick schemes, Dragon Ball Z and the dumb things men in Philadelphia do. We eventually arrived on the topic of future travel plans. We each had some money saved up after the holidays and were both itching to get out of the city. Suddenly, a tattooed, leather-clad girl from the table next to us yelled “I LOVE AUSTIN, TEXAS — YOU GUYS SHOULD GO TO AUSTIN!” She then explained to us of a mystical dreamland where the nights were warm and filled with food truck feasts and live music venues. Intrigued by her passion about this city, Nicole and I opened up our laptops and purchased our tickets to Austin immediately.
A few short weeks later, we were on our way to Texas. I, honestly, didn’t know what to expect, but quickly discovered within the first couple of hours what all the fuss was about. After a night of being treated to drinks and meeting friendly 20-somethings like ourselves, we realized that we had embarked upon what was to be the best vacation ever.
WOAH! That’s a pretty bold statement coming from a travel writer. Yes, it is, however, this was the first trip in my three years as a travel writer that was a trip for me. I didn’t go to visit friends or family, I wasn’t there on business and it wasn’t a press trip. This was finally a real vacation where I went with only one mission: to enjoy myself.
Here’s some of the highlights from our trip:
The Governor and Protestors at The Capitol
On our first morning, we set off to find the Capitol building. Upon arriving, there was a small group of protestors outside. The message was mixed. People were holding up signs ranging from general complaints to a group of teachers protesting laws that prevented them from carrying guns into schools. The coolest part, though, was that the governor of Texas was outside talking to the citizens about the issues. It was refreshing to see a government official talking to the locals about how he was going to represent his state.
Thrift Shopping at South Congress
On the other side of the river that flows through Austin is a quaint area called South Congress. The streets were lined with unique stores carrying antiques that were very characteristic of Texas and the local culture. I purchased a pair of antique cowboy boots and an antique belt buckle for my grandfather for his birthday. He’s a southern gentleman from North Carolina, so these gifts certainly brought back a bit of nostalgia. Meanwhile, Nicole bought a beautiful southern belle gown along with a handcrafted necklace. I say that was quite a successful shopping trip.
A Transcendental Walk Along Lady Bird Lake
Many evenings were spent relaxing by the river at the park watching locals play with their dogs, bike, job and canoe along Lady Bird Lake.
Food Truck Feasts
I grade food using three categories; flavor, local tradition and price. And Austin food trucks are a triple thread in my book. The trucks were as creatively decorated as the food was unique and flavorful. Take those aspects and add in a very fair price and you’ve got a budget savvy way to eat your way through Austin. Food trucks are a quick and easy way to eat local delights. Everything from Tex Mex to BBQ is served up from food trucks!
Night Life and Live Music
Austin’s claim to fame is being the live music capital of the world. And when it comes to a night out on the town, locals in Austin know how to have a good time. Nightlife in Austin is certainly a highlight of the town. In fact, I feel that this city has more to offer in terms of night life than it does for daytime activities. I theorized that days in Texas are normally too hot to bare, so everyone just goes out at night.
Austin, Texas is a magical land where the young go to live out their youth and the beer is only $3 but it doesn’t matter because everyone wants to buy you one.