I shot up bolt upright in bed thanks to the crashes and bangs outside, wondering what the f was going on. Storm. Big huge massive storm. My phone started bleeping telling me there was a flash flood warning nearby – that’s never happened before. “Well, at least I’m not near any water”, I thought, remembering the huge lake outside halfway through my sentence.
It was 2am. I’d landed at Austin Airport at 9pm after 20 hours of travelling from my parents house in Derbyshire, without any sleep thanks to the ridiculously uncomfortable Delta Airline seats. All I wanted was bed, shunning the bus for a taxi ($20) right to the door of the Hostel International I was staying at, 2 miles from the city centre. Check in had been a blur, as had my polite check-they’re-not-psychos chat with my roomies. I’d cleaned my teeth, climbed up to my top bunk, put my eye mask on and gone straight to sleep.
– This is one of the most artworks in Austin, seriously!
But now there were lightning flashes at the window and rain thundering on the roof to the tune of storm. Not much I can do about that, I nodded off again.
It was soon 7am and with the storm unrelenting I got up. I proudly noted what a good sleep I’d had, despite the interruption, as I do when I manage more than a few hours in a hostel. Later I found out that one of the other girls had been sick in the room and they’d all rallied round to clear it up. Slept through it, THANK GOD.
Breakfast at the hostel was free – a bowl of porridge followed by a small bowl of Cheerios Well, might as well fill up if I’ve already paid for it, it’s going to be an expensive month. I sat sipping my coffee watching the storm over the lake, which, obviously, hadn’t come anywhere near the hostel.
After tying up some ends in work – I plan to not look at my inbox for the next two weeks – I decided to head to the SoCo (South Congress Avenue) area of Austin. Aka the epicentre of Austin cool.
I walked three miles there – one of them because I kept going the wrong way distracted by the scenery. As I learnt later it wasn’t the quickest route, but I did walk through Travis Heights, with all its super American houses (like the ones off Eerie Indiana), and past The Bazaar. A super cool vintage shop with a really friendly sales assistant, I was totally taken in by the sunglasses, until I remembered I already had five pairs in my bag.
I learnt from my day in Austin that people are so friendly here. I kept being paranoid I’d met them in the hostel when I was half awake and they knew me. Nope, just friendly.
By the time I got there, around 2pmish, I was ready for a feed. A quick ‘best places to eat in SoCo’ search suggested Hopdoddy – so called for the perfect pairing of beer (hop) and burger (doddy – apparently that’s what it’s called in Aberdeen?!). Anyway, it was blummin delicious. Angus Beef, Pepper Jack, Habanero, Serrano, Caramelised Onions. And you know what else I had? A caramel and sea salt milkshake. Gawd. It was YUM.
I forewent the fries, seeing as I’m attempting to live a healthier lifestyle – thought a burger and milkshake would be enough for today. Time to walk it off…
Animals heads, pill boxes, creepy dolls, COWBOY BOOTS – all for sale at the Uncommon Objects Museum / Shop. I feel I have to show respect for how well organised this shop was, by noting it here. I go in junk shops all around the world but the stuff in them usually looks like just that, junk. Here it was all colour co ordinated and purdy – that huge premium they’d put on the price of everything was just possibly worth it. Didn’t buy anything though.
I spent three hours going in around 10 shops on South Congress Avenue. There was so much to look at, to try on, to play with, I couldn’t help myself. I almost nearly bought a tshirt with ‘Whisky and Yoga’ written on it, before I realised it wouldn’t make my life any better and I’d worry people would look at me and slowly snigger ‘she doesn’t do any yoga’. Too paranoid.
Big Top Sweet Shop
On that note, one of the highlights from the day was the Big Top Sweet Shop, look at it! They caught someone shop lifting – possibly the campest man I’ve ever been around – so it was all very exciting. I spent so long in there it would’ve been rude not to invest, so just bought myself a baggie of pick n mix. I was only allowed things I wouldn’t get in England, so it’s ok, it was cultural research.
It started absolutely chucking it down with rain so I decided to go and get my nails done. A guy started the job, then got a phone call and just left, and a lady had to come and take over. Very strange, but they look good, and that’s all that matters.
I arrived back at the hostel and they’d had a pizza night, the salad was left over and going free so I had a bowl of that for dins. Perfect.
Aaaaannd, then I was asleep by 9:30pm. Jet lag + walking = sleepy me.
In the survey I did, and is still running (yeahh, gimme some feedback), some readers said they wanted to know more about how much I spend, so here’s my costs for the day…
- Taxi from the airport $20 (with tip)
- 6 nights hostel accommodation including breakfast $221.95 / 6 = $37 per night
- Burger and a milkshake $17 (with tip)
- Pick n Mix Sweets $1.60
- Shellac nail varnish $35
Day one / $73.60 = £51.55
Actual sidenote: and I walked 16769 steps (7.1 miles).