What better thing to do on Valentine’s Day than write about what you love. I left off my US trip in the disappointing San Francisco, next up was Austin, Texas. Austin has been in the back of my mind for a long time, stories that paint it as a liberal oasis in the middle of a conservative state. A name I heard in passing became more of a legend through popular culture references and later research.
I was planning on hitting the East Coast (Virginia and the Carolinas) and was incredibly excited about the road trip within a West Coast vacation, but sadly I was let down. So what was the first place I thought of to go to keep my trip a happy one: Texas. A state of extremes and I love extremes. I didn’t have too much time as I’d already booked the first part of my trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco. To be honest, I’d always imagined doing a big, long, extensive trip of the state. A month or so of just driving around and visiting as many places as I could, but 5 days in Austin seemed like a good starter, just incase I didn’t like Texas at all and therefore would have regretted spending so long there.
Of course theme parks were on the agenda, taking 2 days out of the equation (Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Fiesta Texas). One of them was up near Dallas, so my first day was spent driving from Austin to Dallas with the beautiful Texan sky to keep me company. I stayed that night at a Hyatt Place right next to the theme park (Hyatt Place is kind of my go to in the US for comfort and price and you often get good deals on Priceline for it). Then I drove down to Austin (and was stopped by a policeman for speeding) late that night to check into an Airbnb on 5th Street in Central Austin.
So why did I love Austin? Immediately I found 100 things I wanted to do that interested me. From movie nights to free performances in the park to trying every BBQ joint to find the best beef brisket. Everything wasn’t a rush, there was always something happening and never a feeling of anywhere being busy like other major cities. I went to the roller derby and Rainey Street and loved both of those places. I could see myself going there again and again. In Rainey Street I had a cocktail with my name and also a surprise cocktail based on my likes and dislikes in a place that looked like a classy wild west tavern. Then there are all the food trucks there too and live music at some of the bars made from residential properties. I think Texas, in general is a place of contradictions and Austin is possibly the most contradictory by far. You can find all the peace and all the hedonism you want within its city limits. I saw Hairspray performed in the park, I went to a bar themed to moustaches (each cocktail was named after somebody who has a moustache), I queued for hours and hours to try La Barbecue’s beef brisket and sausage in the hot sun while drinking beer from a keg. I didn’t get to go to the drive-in theatre, something that will remain on my bucketlist for a while. It’s the kind of place you can plan to do something weeks in advance or you can roll out of bed, switch on your computer and find something to do immediately.
On the day I went to Six Flags Fiesta Texas, I did my morning there, left to drive for San Antonio for a long lunch and walk around and went back to the park for the evening. I liked it much more than Six Flags Over Texas with it’s stupid rule of no single riders in the back seat of coasters. Something I would like to personally slap the moronic theme park lawyers for. San Antonio, a city so close to Austin and so wildly different was also a place I’d love to explore more of. My afternoon was not enough! The riverside is beautiful and the historical sites are very interesting from what I saw. I’m not the most ignorant person about history, but I haven’t even scratched the surface learning about Texas’ history. I know nothing, Jon Snow.
The last thing I did was go to Mount Bonnell and then the Oasis before heading to the airport for that last depressing night in a crappy hotel near LAX before flying back to Hong Kong.
So I’ll go back one day. I don’t know when, but I will.