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November 25, 2011
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November 30, 2011

Runaway to Sister’s City: Austin, Texas, USA by Erica Kuschel

 

We are the ‘New kids on the Block’, by her words. Over Yonderlust and Runaway Juno started nearly at the same time, and we’ve known each other fairly beginning of our blogging career. She’s a very good friend and I know a lot of you are agreeing with me. She’s intelligent, open and honest, supportive and warm. I haven’t met  her in person but it will be epic when it happens. Erica and Shaun are in Colombia now, on their Latin America tour. I remember when we used to talk about our plans when Shaun was working, and I stuck in the cubicle. I’m very happy that we both are having the time of our lives.

Austin, TX was a curious place for me, because my brother used to live there for a couple of years. Wondered about the place for a long time. Let’s hear what Erica has to say about her home, Austin, TX.

 

 

1. If you use only one word to describe Austin, what would that be?

Local: People are huge supporters of local businesses, restaurants, musicians and anything Austin. It is what I love most about the city. We take care of our own.

 

 

2. For you, when is the best season to travel Austin?

I think Spring is an awesome time. Not only do you get to take part in festivities like South By Southwest (SXSW), Mardi Gras, and crawfish eating season, but you’re not melting in the hot Texas sun.

 

Shaun and Dog at Black Sheep Lodge

 

3. How long have you been living there? Did you feel like home?

I’ve lived in Austin for the better part of 15 years and I do call it my home. I’m originally from El Paso and Austin is everything I wanted in a city – music, trees, lakes, hiking, biking, FOOD. I’m yet to find another city in the world that makes me feel like Austin does.

 

 

4. Tell us about your favourite and the least favourite thing about Austin.

My favorite thing has to be the food renaissance that Austin is experiencing in their food truck industry. You have these young chefs and entrepreneurs that are providing damn good food for a cheap/affordable price. Instead of capitalizing on the food, they are extending it to everyone.

My least has to be the shift in the demographic of people living in my city. Austin has always been a really hip city but for some reason there is an air of pretentiousness that really wasn’t there 10 years ago.

 

 

5. We love food. Is there any local special food I should try?

I could write a book on this question alone. I’ll give you some highlights of my favorite things.

Mexican Martini: You’re limited to 2 shakers due to the high alcohol content. Think of a highly concentrated margarita.
Chips and Salsa: Every restaurant offers this as a free appetizer. My favorite places to eat this would be Chuy’s (ask for the jalapeno cream sauce), Arandas, and Trudy’s (to accompany your Mexican Martini).

Fried Avocado: Avocado stuffed with chicken and cheese, batter fried with a sour cream sauce on it. Heart attack… but I guess that explains why I tend to weigh a few more pounds when at home.

BBQ: Just ask around. Too many places to go to. I like trying new places all the time and each place has it’s specialty. I personally love pork ribs and extra fatty brisket.

Gordough’s Donuts: Fried piles of dough freshly fried to order with various toppings. My fav? Peach cobber topping with a caramel drizzle.

Torchy’s Tacos: TexMex tacos perfectly executed. Barbacoa that brings tears to my eyes.

Homeslice Pizza: Owners from New York – NY style pizza that I find myself dreaming about. Menu has local microbrewery pairings that go with the pizzas they offer.

 

Beer and BBQ in Austin, Texas

 

6. What is the first thing would you recommend us to do right after we arrive in Austin?

Check to see if there is a rollerderby bout with TXRD. Yes, I may be biased as I was a referee but I guarantee it will be life changing. I mean, who doesn’t want to see hot ladies on roller skates beating the crap out of each other?

 

 

7. You are on the road right now. Do you miss home? If you are, what do you miss the most?

I get homesick so often. I do miss my friends but I REALLY miss the food. We’re foodies and it is so hard to be separated from our favorite things.

 

 

8. What is the most famous landmark? And which one is your favourite?

I think the state capitol is the most famous. In typical Texas fashion (where everything is bigger in Texas!), our capitol is bigger than the one in Washington.

My favorite is Barton Springs. Resting at a cool 68F all year ‘round it is an awesome place to cool off during the 100+F summers.

 

Roller derby in Austin, Texas

 

9. Where’s your secret hangout place? The place where you feel most comfortable, or had the most fun.

I’ll have to split these up between 2 bars I most frequent. On Thursday nights you will find me at Jackalope with my girl Macy enjoying $2 pints (of microbrewery beer!) and watching random movies or Wednesday night at Black Sheep Lodge drinking $1 Lone Star tallboys and eating fried cheese curds. Most get togethers or birthdays take place in these two places.

 

 

10. Sunny day, warm outside, and you don’t have anything on schedule. What would you do? What’s your go-to activity in Austin?

If we have had rain (which Texas is experiencing the worst drought in 50 years) we load up the dogs into the car and hike down to my favorite swimming hole, Sculpture Falls, 6 pack of beer in hand. I’ve seen people make the 2 mile hike in rolling a giant BBQ pit over roots and hills!

 

Home slice Pizza in Austin, Texas

 

11. How much is for a cup of coffee?

Depends on where you get it and if you’re getting something special. I think a normal cup o’ joe will run you $1.50-$2.

 

 

12. Would you recommend us one ‘off-the-beaten path’ place in Austin?

Most people that visit me get the hike down to my favorite swimming hole (the one mentioned above). I do have to give disclaimers first since it can be quite the hike in 100+F weather. Although, after mentioning swimming and beer most people are keen on the experience. 

I also like to suggest Chicken Shit Bingo at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon on Sunday. It is exactly what you think – chickens pooping on the bingo board.

 

 

13. Any extra ordinary customs that travelers should know?

Just expect people to be super nice. Embrace it. People open doors for each other and you may be offered sweet tea a few times.

 

Salsa in Austin, Texas

 

14. I’m a fan of souvenirs. Which one should I buy in Austin? (Just so you know, I already have a tshirts of University of Austin from my brother.)

Well, if you collect t-shirts, the go to souvenir is the “Keep Austin Weird” shirt in tye dye. Hell, half of Austin owns one. That or something bat related since the bat is our city mascot (the Congress bridge houses on the of largest colonies of Mexican Bats).

 

15. As a local, would you like to share your secret travel tips about Austin with us?

If you come to Austin I highly suggest Couchsurfing. The community there is not only highly involved but some of my most favorite people in town. They are the way you will get to see the “authentic” Austin. The big popular hostel is quite out of the way and in the “bad” side of town. I would try to avoid it. Also, keep your mind open. There are so many experiences to be had and lots of friendly people that will be more than happy to invite you along on their adventures. 

Oh, and expect to gain a few pounds. If you don’t eat your way through Austin, you’ve missed an integral experience.

 

 

About This Week’s Sister:

Erica is 1/2 of the Over Yonderlust team. When not traveling the world she spends her time home in Austin, Texas as a wedding, pin up, and burlesque photographer.

You can follow their journey on twitter (@OverYonderlust ), Facebook and their website: Over Yonderlust.

 

 

 

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

20 Comments

  1. Erica says:

    Just re-reviewed the pictures I sent you and it appears as though beer is involved in every single one (even if you can’t see them). /sigh That’s Austin! 😛 Thanks for featuring me girlie! Great questions and had a blast answering them all. I’m currently STARVING thinking of all the amazing food back home.

    • Juno says:

      Now I see it…. There are so many reasons why we have to be friends. 🙂 It was my pleasure to have you here. Sorry if I made you homesick!! 🙂 I’d love to visit Austin. I really liked ‘people are nice’. It would be surrounded by nice and kind people.

  2. I’ve heard great things about Austin. Someone described it to me as the San Francisco of Texas. Hopefully I’ll make it there for SXSW one day!

  3. Leslie says:

    Thanks for these insider tips on Austin! I’ve heard great things and have always wanted to check it out. The food sounds amazing– especially the concentrated margaritas and fried avocados. I have to try those. Erica is clearly a local expert 🙂

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Leslie! I liked this article too. Erica is certainly a good expert!! Fried avocados sounds amazing. Mmmm… I miss avocados! Can’t get it here.

  4. Tom says:

    Loved this! I’ve heard great things from Austin – several of my friends who were formerly teaching in South Korea have moved to Austin / are in the process of moving to Austin.

    I would write more, but my keyboard is currently covered in drool over the thought of the fried avocado…I’ll keep it simple with a WTF about the Chicken Shit Bingo?!?!? I’ve never heard of anything so bizarre/repulsive yet thoroughly intriguing in my whole life haha!

    • Erica says:

      Chicken Shit Bingo – something enjoyed best with beer.

      Chickens in a coop with a board underneath. Always good for some fun due to the absurdity of it all. 🙂

  5. Love this! And love Erica! She showed us around a little last time we were in Austin and it really is a fun place. Especially in the Springtime. The weather was outstanding!~ Now… how did I miss the scoop on the fried avocado?? You were holdin’ out on us Erica!

    And regarding pictures with beer I must quote my favorite hometown brewery from Lawrence, KS: “Without beer, things do not seem to go as well”. – Free State Brewery

  6. Stephen says:

    Great interview for a great city! I only spent one day/night in Austin, and the one thing I remember is live music pouring out of EVERY bar, no exaggeration.

    And always love seeing Erica’s photography. Happy travels on your continued journey.

  7. Stephan Hilson says:

    I didn’t know much of Texas except for cowboys and great cuisines. After reading this post, I learn more information about Texas. Homemade pizza, fried avocado and barbecue seem great foods to try. I wish I could visit this state someday and I would want to try souvenir shops too.

  8. Claire says:

    Great post! Makes me want to go back to Austin! Loved it there!

  9. John says:

    Great post! It really is a wonderful city and I love showing our family around whenever they come to visit. The first cool thing that we ever went to see in Austin, was the bats at Congress Ave bridge. What an experience that was! I also agree with you on Barton Springs… cool place, literally and figuratively 🙂

  10. Austin is awesome. Food and music, food and music, food and music. Juno, did you ever see my Austin video? Done on my crappy old Sony W1 but you get the point. 😉

    Hoping to get back there again soon. Some of us Madison people like to think of Austin as a sister city. (Similar Keep It Weird university town vibe). But then I guess she’d be a BIG sister. 🙂

  11. victor Collins says:

    Never been to Austin and I think this is the perfect time after reading this post.

  12. Awe man this makes me miss Austin. All I can say is I wish I was over 211 when I lived there!

  13. Awe man this makes me miss Austin. All I can say is I wish I was over 21 when I lived there!

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