Snapshot Memories of the Week: Austin, TX

Snapshot memories is a new weekly series, giving a visual glimpse into different destinations and unique ways to view them. It’s also a way for me to look back on travels that occurred before and after I started this blog, and to give each place I’ve traveled the attention it deserves. 

This week my memories go back to Austin. 

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Austin, Texas. My first trip to the South and the live music capital of the world.

I was feeling restless after coming home from a summer in Europe with no immediate travels in the works. It was the middle of winter, and I had saved enough money at my first bartending gig to spend it on a trip somewhere in the States during the holidays.

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It didn’t take me long to choose Austin, Texas. I’d always wanted to check out the South (although Austin I’ve heard is much different from the rest of the South), and Austin’s fascination with live music made it a shoe-in.

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I was fine with going on my own, maybe taking a long Greyhound ride to get to Texas and spending a week exploring the city by myself.

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On a whim, I invited my boyfriend at the time, and he said he would love to see the city with me, an avid musician and music lover himself, it sounded like a perfect way to use our winter vacation.

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We jumped on a plane to save time, and stayed in the HI Austin Hostel to save money, exploring the the Texas capital for about a week. Austin is a fairly walkable city, but it was also convenient to bus into the city and wander from there.

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My favorite aspect about Austin was the fact that even though it was winter, and therefore the down season, there was endless live music to be found. We would just walk down the main drag on Sixth Street, wandering from bar to bar, following whatever music we were in the mood for that night.

We listened to tons of live music that week, anything from indie rock, to country folk, to jazz, and even stumbled into a dueling piano bar one night.

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A cool thing about Austin is the bat population that famously exists under the “bat bridge”. We were in the wrong season to see all of the bats while we were there, but Austin apparently has a huge bat population, especially under this one bridge near the city.

Although unique, I thought it was a strange thing for a city to have at the time, but after spending a year in Australia with a crazy bat population in most cities, I find it the most normal thing now.

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In addition to exploring the music-centered nightlife and the bat history of the city, we also had a fun time traipsing through the Zilker Botanical Gardens, checking out the University of Texas, dipping into the retro shops on South Congress, and walking through the State Capitol building – there were even Texas Rangers that walked through the door while we were heading in!

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One of my favorite memories from the trip was going to a restaurant called Rasta Pasta near the university. Run by a Jamaican staff, it served delicious Rastafarian pasta, which I had never heard of before, but it was simply great.

Did I mention that Austin is a little bit on the hippie side? It’s very much like my hometown of Santa Cruz in that sense.

Of all the aspects I remember about this trip, the ones that have stuck with me the most were the presence of the color orange (also the local university’s color), the great food to be found in the many food trucks, the colorful street art, and the beautiful autumn foliage, even though it was in the middle of winter.

The Color Orange

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Food Trucks

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Street Art

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Foliage

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Austin was my first taste of the South, and it made me want to to back to explore all the goodness this part of my own country has to offer. I could definitely see myself living in Austin someday, at the very least I’ll be heading to Austin City Limits and SXSW in the near future.

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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