Postcard from Austin, Texas

This is a quick postcard from Austin, Texas where I’ve been on holiday with my family, to let you know what we’ve been enjoying while we’ve been in the Live Music Capital of the World (now there’s a bit of a clue). As we were in Austin over the Easter weekend, I wanted to relax and live a like a local, so we rented a house the residential Barton Springs neighbourhood and booked our Austin Vacation Rental through HomeAway.com. The house was everything we could have wished for with funky Austin decor, all the equipment and amenities we needed and a nice little garden with barbecue off the deck at the back.

Our rental house through HomeAway.com

Our rental house through HomeAway.com

Just down the road we found Austin’s favourite swimming spot at Barton Springs Pool, where a part of the river has been dammed to make a large open-air freshwater swimming pool, complete with reeds to tickle your toes, salamanders living in the rocks at the bottom and grassy banks for sunbathing. We also had a walk through the wooded trails in the green-belt area near our house that’s upstream from the Barton Springs Pool, finding the kind of secret swimming spots that only a local would normally know about.

Barton Springs Pool in  Austin

Barton Springs Pool in Austin

We stopped off on South Congress Road in the SoCo neighbourhood where there are loads of cool and trendy shops with everything from Vintage to $500 cowboy boots to Mexican arts and crafts. We nosed around the market stalls with jewellery and other hand-made finds and found plenty of pretty gifts to bring home. The neighbourhood is also known for its food trailers that have become a big trend in Austin – you’ll now find them on South 1st Street and other parts of the city too. On a sunny weekend it was great to pick and choose our lunch from the different trailers – Pitta or Tex-Mex or Bratwurst finished off with a slice of pie or a cup-cake while being serenaded by the Country & Western street performers.

Food Trailers on South Congress, Austin

Food Trailers on South Congress, Austin

The Zilker Botanical Gardens were a lovely place to wander around on Easter Sunday after mass in the Cathedral, although the family had other ideas and left me to try and find a swimming place in the river nearby. Meanwhile I walked around the Prehistoric and Japanese gardens, enjoyed the scented rose garden in full bloom and peeped into the pioneer cottages to see how the German and Swedish settlers who came to this area in the mid-19th century lived.

Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin

Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin

We spent the evening under South Congress Bridge observing the bat colony that live on the underside of the bridge and hoping that we would see them fly out in a great swirling crowd at dusk when they go to feed. Despite the hundreds of expectant visitors, seated on the grass with cameras poised, in kayaks and tour boats on the river, unfortunately the bats didn’t oblige with any major display and it was soon so dark that we could only see a few flitting around – the event was something of an anti-climax.

Under South Congress Bridge, Austin

Under South Congress Bridge, Austin

We couldn’t leave without paying a visit to the Texas State Capitol building of which the city is very proud and the dome dominates the downtown area, especially as you approach over South Congress Bridge. We had a look around the Capitol Building Visitor’s Centre which has many interesting and interactive displays as well as a gift shop and then took the free guided tour of the Capitol building itself to learn about Texas State Government.

The Texas State Capitol building, Austin

The Texas State Capitol building, Austin

We managed to get some of the live music in too with an evening listening to Devon Sproule and others at Flipnotics (I’d become a fan after hearing her play in Bristol) and dinner at the well known eating and music venue Threadgills, where a band was playing, but were disappointed when we found The Broken Spoke dance Hall, just at the end of our road was closed on Mondays as we were looking forward to a little shuffle around the floor.

Stay posted, as I’ll be bringing you more in depth stories, videos and pictures from our time in Austin very soon.

Links to everything we enjoyed in Austin

More Texas stories

We’re going to Texas – YeeHa!
Postcard from Houston
Postcard from San Antonio

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