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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.