In my mind, I’d always considered Austin to be the “Portland of the South” but after spending four days there, I’ve since realized that I wasn’t giving the city enough credit; while there are a lot of striking similarities, it definitely has a distinct personality all its own.
I arrived last Thursday armed with no real agenda and only a print-out of the address of my Airbnb digs. With two days off before teaching The Blogcademy, I was open to whatever came my way. And boy, was it a good time.
I’d been to Austin once before in 2008 but staying in a hotel along the outskirts of downtown never gave me the full experience I was hoping for — this time, Kat, Gala and I found a cozy 50s bungalow on Airbnb that was a short walk from South Congress and it was such a better time. Our house (this one, if you’re interested) was right up our alley — our living room was decorated with an eclectic mix of letters, vintage movie posters, a green plaid couch and turquoise walls.
And the kitchen was just as fabulous — cherry red and accented with baby blue tile!
Did I mention that there were dinosaur planters, too?! They ended up popping up in a whole lot of our Instagram shots, along with that awesome rug.
On our first night in town, our friend Ellie from the Media Bombshell whisked us away to Henri’s, a quaint little wine and cheese bar which I loved.
Following that, Gala’s friend Jess happened to fly into town the same day as us and as luck would have it, she spends a lot of time in Austin and gave us a restaurant and shopping tour. We definitely had some cultural experiences along the way: Kat & Gala tried queso for the first time and we paid a visit to Cabela’s (and toured their extensive museum of taxidermy). And, we got to see the inside of a Cracker Barrel (I’ve passed them dozens of times but never made my way inside). But my favorite restaurant stop was Kerbey Lane Cafe, which resembled a retro diner and had colorful seating, massive portions (just look at my coffee!) and many vegan friendly options.
On Friday night, we walked down and explored South Congress St. and it was cool seeing so many vintage neon signs and non-chain businesses. Further down the road, we came across Amy’s Ice Cream which has the craziest list of toppings I’ve ever seen. I held off, afraid that I’d get sick but Gala indulged in quite a mixture (they charge the same, no matter how many toppings you ask for!)
On our way home, we stopped at a 24 hour grocery store to fill up our silver B balloons. The morning would creep up soon enough…
Once the weekend rolled around, it was time for our workshop at Vuka, a well-known coworking space. All I have to say is that the enthusiasm inside was contagious. Bakers, psychics and crafters filled the crowd and together, we dug in, corralled branding inspiration, developed new blog post ideas, refined taglines and mapped out our ideal readers. I’ll have a lot more to share about the experience on Monday!
As we were driving to class on Sunday morning, Gala’s friend Ed took us on a scenic route and as we passed by this house, I made him pull over so I could jump out and get some photos. My friend Laurel had just instagrammed a photo of it the week before and isn’t it amazing?!
My time in Austin flew by in a flash but that’s okay because I’ll find an excuse to come back soon enough. Maybe just not in August next time! Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m frantically packing for New York, London and Greece. Having less than a week home between Austin and my trip to Europe has proven trickier than I thought but I know that once I get through this to-do list, big adventures await.
Any awesome weekend plans you’re looking forward to as this summer winds down?