Over the next few posts, I’m going to catch you up on how I recently spent 4 days in Austin, TX (okay, 3 days + 1 in San Antonio, and actually… the total trip was really only 72 hours due to flight schedules, so this theoretically could all be done in one very busy 3-day weekend):
Day 1 – Saturday – Austin, TX
My plane lands at 5:30pm, and my friend B. picks me up at the airport. I check into the hostel (Drifter Jack’s) and even in the few minutes I’m there before we leave, I’m impressed with how friendly and welcoming everyone is. Plus, they have very cool art painted directly on the walls by local artists, giving the hostel a very Austin feeling.
Next, we check out the South Congress neighborhood, known for its unique shops and delicious food. I definitely recommend coming here, especially if you like exploring different neighborhoods within the same city like I do.
It’s very fun to see the Big Top Candy Shop, a store with a giant selection of bulk and packaged candies, an old-fashioned soda fountain, ice cream, and hand-made desserts. I buy a Lollihops candy for my brother (lollipop with hops in it, made by Yakima Hop Candy, which as it turns out, is located in the state I live in, so it’s a bit weird to buy as an Austin souvenir, but I buy it anyway, opting for their chile lime flavor which seems very Texas to me). I also have to get some of their random bulk candies for myself (like a gummy chicken foot! It looks weird and tastes about the same).
Among the other places we explore:
- Monkey See Monkey Do (a novelty gift shop that seemed like they were low on inventory today, so I can’t really say if this is normally worth a visit)
- Uncommon Objects (an antique marketplace with a very random and sometimes freaky collection – I see a doll missing part of its head and all of one arm, a taxidermied zebra head, and other strange things, but there are some nicer/more expected things as well – see picture below. Everything is fairly expensive.)
Despite the wonderful smells coming from the nearby restaurants, we decide to go elsewhere for dinner (perhaps motivated by the questionable legality of our chosen parking space). The Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill is supposed to be very good, so we go there, and since they don’t take reservations, we put our name in the list and wait for 2 hours (!) before getting a table. (For part of that time, we walk around Palm Park, attracted by what looks like the ruins of a small castle, but then we stay for a bit when we find a playground with very unique twisty swing-type rides. I’m glad we did that before we ate!) The food ends up being pretty good, but I’m not sure it was worth the wait.
After dinner, we continue our journey by heading toward the Capitol building. The Texas Capitol grounds are beautiful at night. The building is lit up, and so are the trees (not with wrap-around strung lights, but with big spot lights, so you can see the shapes of the branches against the night sky). There are many statues honoring people significant to the history of Texas, and while we’ll have to revisit during daylight to read the signs for some, we’re able to see most of them tonight.
Finally, we take a walk down to the 6th Street district. I’m not into the party scene, but I want to see what 6th street is all about since people were making such a big deal about it online when I was planning my trip. It was described to me as similar to Fremont Street in Vegas (which I thought felt really scuzzy), but thankfully, 6th Street is less unpleasant. It reminds me of the street full of bars near the campus where I went to school, and is filled with as many people drinking way more than they can handle. It’s not a pleasant experience to end the night with, and I can’t help but feel bad for the people having an even worse night – one person was sick with her head in a very dirty trash can. Like on Fremont Street in Vegas, there are a few people in costumes requesting tips so you can take photos with them, however, unlike on Vegas’ Fremont Street, the guy on 6th Street dressed as Batman is fully clothed. Despite feeling not as uncomfortable as I expected, it still isn’t a place I want to be, and we leave within a few minutes of arriving.
I think we made the most of the first day. It’s very late when I return to the hostel, and I’m exhausted, but I can’t wait to find out what else I’m able to see while in Austin!