Day trip - Austin, Texas

4:05 am

Wow, after over a year long absence (except the one post about my identity crisis), I am back! Anya's musings are back! Feels great. I've been MIA for many reasons - mainly that I moved to another country & life happened, but that's such a poor excuse. I am currently in United States, seriously considering moving back to India but let's see how that shapes up. But if I am going to leave, I wanted to travel a little bit (on my micro budget) & have managed to see a few hidden and not-so-hidden gems of this country.

Today, I am writing about my most recent journey - a day-long trip to Austin, Texas. I am in Houston these days giving interviews and what-not, visiting friends etc. Coming from Boston where it is still winter, Houston has been a surprise. Basically, I wanted to explore Texas a little bit but I am pressed for time and money, and I don't drive in the USA, so I googled "Fun things to do around Houston" and after much perusing, I realised that a day trip to Austin is just the thing for me (okay, it was my friend's idea, not mine).

Austin is about a couple of hours drive from Houston. We rented a car and started off at about 8.30am, grabbing coffee & food from Starbucks. We went with an open mind with no specific to-do list expect to just chill out. Bad weather seems to be following me everywhere because enroute to Austin we were met by a very torrential rain. Trust me not to check out the weather of the destination before starting. I actually was quite scared - we couldn't see anything but pouring rain for about 2-4 whole minutes and we were in the middle of a highway!

Really, the sky should've been warning enough for us!

Our first stop in Austin was SoCo - South Congress and I instantly fell in love (despite the chill in the air post-rain). We wanted to check out the I Love You So Much mural which despite its fame, to my untrained eye looked like the words "I love you so much" spray painted on the wall of Jo's, a very popular coffee joint. I later googled the history/significance of the mural.

SoCo is a very pretty, quirky area, filled with cafes, restaurants, shops, food and ice cream trucks, and of course, quirky murals. I really really recommend a visit here. You also get a nice view of the buildings and state capitol from this area. We went to Jo's and I tried the iced turbo. Thankfully it wasn't a sickening sweet and I actually found it rather refreshing. I don't know how long I was in there because when I got out, the sun was shining and it was really warm!
One of the many beautiful murals adorning the walls of SoCo establishments

First view of Austin

Which was great because our next stop was Zilker Metropolitan Park. It's a great place of sprawling greenery and the perfect place for outdoor activities - hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming. Unfortunately we were not dressed for the great outdoors. I was not wear appropriate footwear, we were in jeans and we did not have swimwear with us. So we were the happy spectators of this stunning Austin view! I was super fascinated by Barton Spring Pool, the natural swimming pool fed by nearby natural springs. I think adults have to pay $8 to use the pool but since we didn't have swimwear, we saw it from behind the barricade. I had never seen anything like this - you can even see the limestone around and inside it. 
Me admiring Barton Natural Pool

We had lunch at Magnolia Cafe - a true delight. Their mimosa was amazing, as was the food. I highly recommend this place. Like, highly.

Our trip ended with a short stop at Hippie Hollow. But more on that some other day.

A glimpse of what awaits at Hippie Hollow

My other travels:

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