36 hours is not a lot of time to decompress between two long, intense weeks of business trips; one must be focused and intent on having some serious R & R. Being left in Houston, Texas with a car and a credit card, I took myself on a road trip, hitting Natural Bridge Caverns (Part 1), Pedernales Falls State Park (Part 2), and Austin, Texas (Part 3).
Part 3 of 3, discussing my 36 hours of adventures in Texas.
Thankfully, Austin, Texas is weird. And wonderful. I would 100% go back for a long weekend to really explore the region, eat all the delicious food, and peruse the amazing shops, because what I saw only served to tantalize!
I rolled into my hotel at 18:00, dusty and dirty from the cave, the hike, and the long week at work. The bed looked so inviting, I was tempted to crawl into bed immediately and giving up all ideas that had started to bud in my mind. Instead of collapsing prematurely, I enjoyed a long, steammy, rejuvenating shower and took some time to unwind: I repacked my bag so it wasn’t a jumble of everything (including the kitchen sink), and I called a friend to say ‘Hi’ and catch up.
Feeling revitalized, I was ready to head out to a recommended Tex-Mex eatery in southern Austin on S 1st Street. The aforementioned restaurant was authentic and friendly…and required a 90 minute wait for a single person to eat. My exhaustion or my hunger would have gotten the better of me in 90 minutes, so I meandered down S 1st Street, exploring the area and looking for somewhere different to eat. The district was a really funky, wonderful area where I would love to spend more time exploring: there were lots of taco trucks, bright, bold murals, lovely fairy lights, and groups of friends laughing over margeritas. It was exactly how I imagined the coolest parts of Austin would look.
I float back and forth between being an introvert and an extrovert. I deeply enjoy wandering through the world alone and traveling by myself: I find it liberating and refreshing. There is something very exhilarating about waking up in a new part of the world, and knowing you can do absolutely anything and everything you want on that day. That being said, I also find that some of the most memorable parts of traveling occur with other people. Sometimes, I find myself timid to enter a bustling bar or restaurant because I feel self conscience taking up an entire table, and I fear that I will miss out on the fun everybody else is having because I’m on my own. I am also rather shy about aggressively befriending new people even though I am very chatty, because I always assume they are busy and don’t need me bothering them. If possible, I always prefer to sit at the bar where I can befriend the bartender and am often surrounded with other solo diners, keen to a make a new friend.
After a short saunter down the road, I ended up at Bouldin Creek Cafe, which was an absolute delight. The wide thoughtful vegetarian and vegan options felt exactly like being back in the north west. As I have previously discussed, finding delicious, healthy options when traveling can be quite the struggle, so I am ultra-enthusiastic when I find a solution. I enjoyed possibly my first authentic Tex-Mex meal: vegetarian enchiladas with fresh spinach and refried beans. The bartender was a lovely, chatty lady, so we inevitably struck up a conversation. She had lived in Austin for many years and supplied me with a stream of places to visits before noon the next day. The list was far longer than I could tackle the following day, but it will certainly inspire my next trip to Austin!
With the bartenders encouragement, I discovered the most amazing dessert: the Taxi Driver. It’s a large, warm gooey brownie, a scoop of ice cream (in this case: vegan coconut ice cream), drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce, and topped with a shot of espresso (I had decaf because it was getting late for me), some chopped walnuts, and whipping cream. I could eat one every single day. It was absolutely divine. It was the perfect layering of hot and cold, sweet and bitter, squishy and crunchy. I keep intending to make one since I have been home, but I fear it will not live up my recollection, and I would hate to spoil that…
The long, exciting day caught up with me the second I finished my dessert, hitting me like an enormous, sleepy freight train. At the hotel, I had the most deliciously luxurious sleep that I enjoyed far longer than I intended. It was so worth it. I only had time for breakfast before departing for the airport and my next destination, so I decided to explore one of the places recommended by the bartender the night before: a coffee shop called Patika.
Pakita, in South Austin, was all that I dream of in a coffee shop: fantastic coffee, excellent food, lots of friendly people doing their own thing, and bright tables. There was a really fun patio as well; however, it was too cold when I was in town to sit outside. Instead, I settled down to write in my bullet journal, and enjoyed their Smoked Salmon Plate (pictured above). The Smoked Salmon Plate was light, healthy, and filling; it was a little bit crunchy and salty from the bagels while being soft from the egg and salmon. Like all the food I had in Austin, it was delicious; the care, style, and priority placed on food reminded me very much of Vancouver, when it was poised at the cusp of moving from low-key and chill to outrageously snazzy and expensive. It was still authentic and had not yet turned the corner to overt pretentiousness. I certainly hope to return to this little dream of a coffee shop.
After my wonderful breakfast, it was time to head to the airport. I still had a long drive ahead of me, and an even longer flight. At least I had completely enjoyed my time; I would be delighted to return for further exploration and snacks.