Photos pending

I spent four days in Austin, staying with Rally who CouchSurfed with me for a week in Edinburgh in 2012. Austin is pretty nice, and quirky, and excellent (better than Portland?) on the vegan food front. The city center / downtown / tall buildings part is smaller than I expected. It's also extremely green and bushy. Texans are really friendly and welcoming, in a loud way. One of my main goals for the visit was to eat lots of TexMex.

After picking me up from the airport on Sunday, Rally took me for brunch at Mother's Cafe which was a delicious pile of breakfast tacos, plus peas as an unusual (to me) touch. And an almond mocha tart. In the afternoon we walked around Mount Bonnell and Mayfield Park.

On Monday had biscuits and gravy (and jalapenos and cheese) for breakfast from the Biscuits and Groovy food truck, and ice cream for lunch from Lick (because we're grownups and we can eat whatever we want). We walked along parts of the Hike 'n' Bike trail, and went paddleboarding on the river. It was very tranquil. Then we walked around Zilker Park, and through the Botannical Garden, which has dinosaurs. We went to the ?? bridge to watch the bats emerge just after sunset, and they were there but teeny tiny and hard to see from our vantage point. There were maybe hundreds of people lining the bridge and riverbanks for the same reason though. For dinner we ate burgers and tater tots from Arlo's food truck. The burgers were amazing, all vegan (obviously) but also gluten free and soy free, and somehow magically meaty and satisfying. Proper brioche burger buns helped. I had a bac'n cheezeburger.

Tuesday was designated work day. We hit up The Steeping Room for breakfast (a soysauge and hummus sandwich, and scones with a divine maple pecan butter spread, and Assam) but it was too loud to stay. We relocated to Thunderbird, which was also loud, but I managed the SocialWG telecon (and coffee) from there. We swung by Sweet Ritual for ice cream (I had a pumpkin sundae with caramel sauce and chopped peanuts). Our final stop was The Blue Cat Cafe, where I tried Frito pie, a ridiculous yet delicious non-meal. Unlike cat cafes I'd visited in Japan, the moggies were allowed to roam everywhere, including on the tables where we were eating, including licking at our food and going to sleep on my keyboard. It was wonderful. We watched a white kitty chasing a bug for hours. There are lots of snuggle places for surprise cats to pop out from, and overhead crawls and pathways. There's an entirely reasonable $3 cat coverage fee to enter, the food is cheap and comforty (and all vegan), and all the cats are up for adoption.

We ended the day with a $10 boat tour down the river, to see the bats from a different angle. We could see more from below, and hear them squeaking as well.

On Wednesday we got up early for Yoga; the studio served a small cup of chai to everyone afterwards. We ate at Counter Culture after trying and failing to find the Cool Beans food truck (apparently it's moved to the Spiderhouse from the location HappyCow lists. I should remember to update that). Rally and I shared excellent cheezy chilli nachos, jalapeno cornbread, roasted sweet potatoes, and pickled vegetables. Then we headed into downtown Austin, and stopped at the enormous Wholefoods for supplies for my later journey (everything is about 10c cheaper than Boston Wholefoods). We walked several miles, including through the Capitol building, and a quick tour of a couple of floors of the museum (the $13/$11 entrance fee was reduced to 0 for us as it was almost 30 minutes until closing. Nice!). I learned that Mexico once encompassed the regions which are now Texas, New Mexico and California, and in the 1800s they had a problem with unwanted immigration from the US. Ahem. There was also an exhibition about Nazi and WWII propaganda, and the effects it had on society in Texas, and all the lessons we supposedly learned about xenophobic rhetoric against racial groups, which seems particularly pertinent at the moment.

We stopped by the Tears of Joy hot sauce shop, where I tried several delicious samples, and topped it off with a dot of 7.1 million scovilles chilli on my tongue. I had to sit down for a while. We walked back via the Castle Hill Graffiti Park which is worth stopping by. And made it to the Amtrak station in time for my train to be delayed arriving by 50 minutes due to a freighter. Austin's Amtrak station is hilariously tiny given the size of the city. It's one room, and one platform. Eventually I said goodbye to Rally and boarded the 421 to LA. It was pretty busy.

🏷 Austin, TX #justgo travel vegan