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Daniel_Williams Jun 21st, 2019 04:17 PM

Austin Reassessed

As part of what seems to be becoming an Amtrak & bus summer ritual to Mexico and/or Central America (yes, Iím a teacher), I stopped in first St. Louis MO, then Austin TX before continuing to Monterrey Mexico. I had visited Austin once before around 2014-2015 around New Yearís and had enjoyed most the State Capitol tour as well as the Bullock Museum of Texas History that visit.

So, this year was my first visit in summer to the Texas capital. This time I opted to stay on South Congress, at the Austin Motel, an area of the city I didnít see last trip (last time, I was in Clarksville near the original Whole Foods). It was an interesting location, with plenty of dining options around and a quasi counter-culture vibe, especially at the Austin Motel. I went to Torchyís Tacos, which is definitely not a run-of-the-mill taco joint and tried an Austin specialty, breakfast tacos at Joannís. The one thing that seems to have exploded in this area of Austin are the electric scooter rental stands; Iíd heard of this phenomenon but here they were like locusts!

Yes, it was 101F, but what made the heat bearable was the pool access. Yes, the hotel pool but also the outing I did to Barton Springs Pool, a naturally sourced HUGE outdoor pool in a stunning setting. Although I took an Uber to the pool, I also took advantage of being its vicinity to hike along the Greenbelt Trails that go from Barton Springs and bring one to gorgeous rapids and tranquil pools of a Colorado River tributary amidst greenery that feel worlds removed away from city living. The cool water of the spring-fed pool (big enough to do laps) felt divine as I swam laps after the hour-long walk.

Yes I actually think, despite the heat, that this summer visit was a better choice weather-wise than the winter visit to Austin a few years back. I had heard that a New Year visit was dicey and letís just say the dice didnít roll my way, with it being a sort of bone-chilling humid and cloudy cold when I went.

One nice thing about a summer rather than winter Austin visit is joining with the folks who come to observe the bats emerge at sunset from the Congress Street bridge. The bats came finally after 9pm and it was quite the sight and squeaking sound to see hundreds come out, even though they were much smaller-looking than I had imagined. From the park under the bridge, they appeared almost like dim moths in the red light of the tour boats, to my eyes.

All in all, I came out of this visit appreciating Austin more. I feel the cityís greatest asset is the terrific nature access on trails and the very unique Barton Springs Pool.

Happy travels!

Daniel_Williams Jun 21st, 2019 06:34 PM

Hereís some photos of the stellar nature, all in the heart of Austin
The beautiful Barton Springs pool
Rapids along the Greenbelt trails
A cliff adjacent a tranquil pool, Greenbelt Trail

5alive Jun 21st, 2019 07:06 PM

Nice report. We went to Austin two summers ago. We ate at Hopdoddy's on Congress, and we saw the bats, which I loved. We also saw the university. Would have liked to tour the LBJ Presidential Library but ran out of time.

We also liked San Antonio.

Birdie Jun 23rd, 2019 11:01 AM

Hi, Daniel! Nice trip report. I’ve never been to Austin but the bats could tempt me.

emalloy Jun 24th, 2019 03:47 AM

Sounds like a nice way to visit in the heat. Thanks for the report

northfork280 Jun 24th, 2019 09:23 AM

Thanks for the trip report. We definitely enjoyed staying in the South Congress area when we were in Austin several years ago.

Daniel_Williams Jun 25th, 2019 04:50 AM

Thanks for reading and commenting, emalloy, birdie and northfork280! Birdie, indeed, seeing the bats was a unique experience!

Daniel_Williams Jul 9th, 2019 06:54 AM

If curious, here is the trip report for the Mexico/Central America part of my trip, using Austin as a springboard.

sludick Jul 9th, 2019 09:17 AM

Thanks for the trip report. I always enjoy reading about your adventures.

Daniel_Williams Jul 9th, 2019 10:54 AM

Thanks, sludick! That means a lot. :)

TDudette Jul 23rd, 2019 03:04 PM

Thanks, Daniel. Nice photos.

Austin was next on our Thanksgiving getaway list, so I went there in his honor after DH died. An amazing temperature drop confused everyone.

Where next?

Daniel_Williams Jul 24th, 2019 07:46 AM

Thanks tdudette. Thanksgiving I imagine would be a good time of year to go, although I hope the sharp temperature drop did not leave you unprepared. Where next? Immediately after Austin, I saw some incredible Mayan archaeological sites in Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as some new towns/cities in those countries and the amazing CaŮůn del Sumidero (see trip report in Mexico & Central America). If you mean, where after that? That, I have no idea! I usually come up with a plan for my Christmas vacation in maybe late August or September and next summerís foray in maybe February or March.

TDudette Jul 24th, 2019 08:09 AM

The advanced knowledge of the Mayans (and other folks) is fascinating. Enjoy, whatever you do.

Macross Jul 24th, 2019 02:53 PM

Good report, I have not been to Texas since 1975. Austin sounds good though.

Daniel_Williams Jul 25th, 2019 06:28 AM

Hi Macross,

Thanks for reading! I can relate since from 1977 (age 6) to 2003, I was never in Texas. Of the Texas cities I've seen, San Antonio is my favourite although I appreciate my #2 Austin more after this last visit.


TDudette Jul 26th, 2019 07:03 AM

Probably too late now, but here's my Austin TR:

baldone Aug 13th, 2019 04:55 PM

Daniel, San Antonio is usually our jumping off place on our trips NOB. Drive there from San Miguel then fly onwards. Though this fall we've opted for Houston, since United stops in Houston anyway when flying out of SAT. So we'll take a slightly different route through Mexico and back just to change things up a bit. But we really like San Antonio, so we'll still probably have a couple days there.

Daniel_Williams Aug 14th, 2019 05:26 AM

Baldoneó San Antonio is usually *my* jumping off point for travel into Mexico. Thereís much I appreciate about SA. It was fun however to mix it up by beginning in Austin instead this year.

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