SXSW 2014 may be over but Austin, Texas is a great city to visit year round. I made a visit to Austin, TX last year during labor day holiday weekend and stayed with my friend. There was no better way to celebrate the last days of summer than swimming holes, the best barbecue and live music. Here is my overdue post, a recap of my trip to the Lone Star state and one of the best capital city in the country.
08.31.2013 (Day 1)
I met my friend, a native Texan who now lives in Austin, Texas through working and both for our love of farmers market, so naturally our first stop was the farmers market for a light breakfast. It was considerably early or at least in my internal clock but many items was already sold out. It made sense because of the climate in Austin, Texas by noon can reach up to and over 100F, so the locals really start their day early then off to swimming hole we go! One of the most visited and popular swimming hole is Barton Springs Pool and it is a definite must. As I’m used to swimming at my local recreational center in a body of bleach water, Barton Springs Pool is a whole new experience, with natural mineral water generated from underground springs with an average temperature of 70 degrees is an ideal treat from the heat. Our lunch stop was at Lucy’s Fried Chicken. We ordered a 1/2 dozen of Austin oysters, corn on the cob, corn bread muffin, collard greens and a basket of fried chicken to share and to fuel our appetite. That evening we went to my friend’s parents lake house in New Braunfels, TX for an ‘Open Grill’ which was a term that was new to me and meant you bring your own meat for the barbecue like a pot luck in which I bought some sausages from a local German butcher shop.
09.1.2013 (Day 2)
This was my second time staying at my friend’s parents lake house. They have visited me a number of times in New York City and in many ways have become my extended family. We made breakfast tacos from our leftovers from the open grill. It was one of those Sunday meals to linger around with good company without the fuss. Later that afternoon, we drove through the roads passing ranches from New Braunfels to Wimberly, TX. The views were spectacular and even quoted in guide books, “the Tuscany of Texas!” My friends and I arrived to Jacob’s Well which was overcrowded, even one man came dashing out after taking a glimpse and said in a fury with an European accent, “this is disgusting.” Instead we went to Blue Hole but was also disappointingly full. Finally we settled and picnic at a less populated swimming hole. The biggest accomplishment was I successfully conquered my fear in attempting the tarzan swing which was one of the most liberating thing I have done in awhile and I recommend everyone to do the same if you never have.
We drove back from Wimberly to Austin and had dinner at a drive-thru at El Chilito. I had three tacos a fish, a shrimp and a Puerco en Cascabel aka Cactus tacos with a plate of rice and beans along with horchata. Later we went to a trendy bar, The White Horse. It happened to be conjunto night which means ‘gather’ and the Mexicans really knows how to have a fiesta. There was the usual bar scene with a good selection of beer, pool table, live music and dancing but rarely an old school of Mexicans and young hipsters under one roof in a bar. The intermix of culture and generation was what really distinguished The White Horse from any bar I have ever been to and the friendly, social atmosphere really made the experience fun.
09.02.2013 (Day 3)
Despite the heat wave, the locals in Austin, TX remains very active with outdoor sports. People were running, hiking, kayaking, bicycling, you name it. Well, my friend and I tried paddle boarding in the heart of city. In addition to being very active, it is also the city where Whole Foods supermarket chain stores was born in the 80s and remains to be one of the biggest Wholefoods in the country and that’s where we had an al fresco lunch follow by some shopping. I was hoping to purchase a pair of cowgirl boots but a pair goes for about more than a roundtrip airfare. I’ll have to save up besides it will give me a reason to go back. Instead we opted for some ice cream at Amy’s which are known for their ‘crushn’ method and I had the triple mexx with pecans. To conclude my trip in Austin, TX, it had to be Texas barbecue at Salt Lick BBQ. This was the real deal and Salt Lick BBQ takes it very seriously. There was a bocce court, a wine cellar and a vineyard but the main attraction was of course the pit where a ton of meat was firing up. We did a family style with an assortment of meats which the ribs and pickles really stood out. It was an epic way to end my visit to Austin, Texas and what the city reminded me was to let loose a little and enjoy the pleasures in traveling and in life. Thank you to my friend and her family for being such gracious host.
I was lucky to have a friend to take me around on all the hot spots. An alternative source to plan your next trip to Austin, Texas I discovered while visiting is this charming collection of city guide books: Wild Sam Field Guides. Unlike any other guide books, I find these personal, authentic and visually creative. A perfect addition to any traveler or designer’s collection. And for the outdoorsy person, Hill Country Outdoor Guide is a good source.