After being to Texas, it’s clear to see how the argument stands that Texas should be it’s own country within the United States. There are some countries in Europe that could easily fit into Texas three or four times comfortably. Therefore, this part of the blog is going to be required to be written in more than one part.
So polish up your cowboy boots and put on your rodeo hat, we’re hitting Texas, yeeha!
We began our journey into Texas after crossing the border from Louisiana. Having survived a slow boat ride down in the evervescent bayou with the snapping ‘gators and some genuine Louisianan folk, we woke from our regular bus naps to the sites of cowboy hats and a gun store on every corner – okay, maybe that’s exaggerating…but there were a lot!
With our minds still fresh with the sights of ‘gators and swamps, we camped on what was perhaps the flatest piece of land I’d ever seen, in a camping ground on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. We were forewarned by our tour guide (the incomparable Jaz) that alligators were usually cushioned amongst the swamps that surrounded the sight – granted these nesting areas were a fair walk away but still, this was unnerving! Needless to say, we pitched our tents rather close together that night.
Now, let it be known that I have swam in many bodies of water but none so warm than the Gulf of Mexico! It was literally like being in a warm, salty bath. Despite the warnings of nearby alligators, we spent the afternoon bathing in the Gulf before heading back to the sight for dinner.
Later, we did what any group of travellers would do when given the gift of a bath-temperature ocean, go skinny dipping. Along the way, the warnings of alligators became closer to a reality as we flashed our lights over the nearby swamp to find two glowing eyes, unmoving, glaring in the distance. So it was safe to say…we went swimming anyway. On our return to camp, disaster struck. No it wasn’t a scaly alligator that infiltrated our camp, but an extremely large, hairy wild pig. Apparently it had taken a liking to our potato salad and decided to have a raid of the camp.
So on top of wild pigs and looming ‘gators, it was safe to say we wanted a peaceful night sleep. But did we get it? Nope! That night we were greeted with a tempest. A blazing, blustery, prolonged tempest that battered the tents and even managed to flood some of the more damaged of the lot. It’s easy to say that this was not the most pleasant of welcomes to Texas but it was definitely one that would define our visit through the great state itself.
Leaving the rough night spent on the Gulf of Mexico, we set our sights on more comfortable horizons right in the heart of the capital of Texas, Austin. After our rough night in the tents, we spent the next two in a comfortable hotel on the outskirts of town.
Now begins my tour guide section of this blog:
Austin, Texas is the thriving capital of Texas, but if you’re looking for the genuine Texan experience, I’d say you were best to look outside of the state’s capital.
Austin is known for its thriving nightlife, it’s soaring buildings and developing arts scene that supports live country music, but travellers should also be aware that during the day, there’s not a heck of a lot (in my opinion) to keep yourself busy, unless you like your vacation to involve a lot of outdoor activities..
During the day you can spend your time wandering the main streets, if your budget allows it, you can shop around the main district of Austin or take a short adventure outwards and go for a hike, just bring water because Texas is HOT. If hikes aren’t really your thing, then you can picnic near the lake or go boarding while you soak up some sun. The capital also houses the Texas State Capital building which is mighty impressive, mainly due to its design and vastness of its architecture, not to mention its towering height.
In the afternoon you can watch the movement of the bats under the bridges that enter Austin.
At night the fresh springs (Barton Springs Pool) in Austin have free entry from 8pm onwards, so if you want to avoid that nasty entry fee then this is the time to go. Don’t get confused however, these freshwater springs are definitely not hot! In fact, it’s quite the opposite, but damn is it refreshing. Plus the diving board provides much entertainment for adults and children alike.
As for the food, Austin houses a variety of culinary desires, from pure Tex Mex, to chain restaurants and hidden cafes. However, I’d suggest taking a short trip out of Austin itself to a proper steak restaurant. The one we visited was BYO and situated about 10 or 15 minutes outside of Austin and even had its own wine tasting house attached to the restaurant itself. Just note, BYO does not have a limit on how much you can bring, we definitely were not the most quiet customers this establishment had visit them.
Make sure before you leave Austin that you visit one of its many outift stores that stock the finest cowboy leather fashion. Those fellas will suit you up just fine to fit in with the locals of the town. Just make sure to get the whole outfit, otherwise you will stand out and you will have people note that you’re just wearing a cowboy hat for the fun of it.
End of Part 1 of Texas.