Today is our first wedding anniversary. It’s no surprise to anyone who knows us well that our love story is anything but conventional. What most couples reach in years, we accomplished in months. What took them months, took us weeks. We met, got engaged a few months after, moved in one week later and eloped two months after that. It’s been a whirlwind ride, but we did it on our terms.
Unlike most of the American population, my husband and I were far from relaxing, BBQ-ing and drinking this Memorial Day weekend. Instead, we were testing our mental grit summiting California’s third highest peak: Mt. San Jacinto.
What to do when you’ve only got 72 hours in Austin? You eat! My friends and I spent a calorie-filled weekend last summer in Austin to visit friends who recently relocated to the charming capital city. It’s always been in my secret bucket list to set foot in all 50 states, so I was excited to mark off Texas as the 32nd state to explore.
The entire city was so charming it immediately won my heart. Austin has the quintessential combination of proximity to nature, cool music, and mouth-watering food… what more can a girl ask for? Known as the Live Music Capital of World, Austin possesses a distinct je ne sais quoi, a vibe that’s difficult to put your finger on. It’s progressive city, an outlier compared to its metropolis neighbors. It’s a blue dot in a sea of red. It’s young, it’s hip, and it’s now one of my favorite cities!
They say the best BBQ in the world is in Texas. The best BBQ in Texas in Austin. The best BBQ in Austin is Franklin’s BBQ. Franklin’s BBQ proved to me that there are some places worth traveling 2,000 miles, waking up at 6AM, and waiting 4 hours for. When in Austin, definitely eat as the locals do! Texans know what’s up.
Churro Co. Austin
To burn off the the calories we just consumed, we rented bikes and took a scenic ride in Zilker Park, a recreational area situated beside Lady Bird Lake. It’s an expansive 351-acre park, offering open fields, bike trails, and leash-free dog zones! Riding around the city with the Downtown Austin skyline in the foreground was such a treat. I couldn’t help but daydream about packing my bags, driving to Austin from California, and leaving Los Angeles in the dust for good.
To those unwilling to sacrifice 4 hours waiting in line at Franklin’s, a notable alternative is The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas. About a 40 minute drive southeast of Austin, Salt Lick is another BBQ heaven. It definitely offers an authentic Texas experience. Situated in the middle of, well…nowhere, The Salt Lick has a restaurant, a winery, live music, and even a mini market where their special seasoning mixes and rubs are available for purchase.*
*Side Note: TSA gave me a hard time at the airport because of these dry rubs. Make sure the bottles remain sealed when you pack them in your luggage.
Can you say BBQ Holy Grail? This pit is insane! Texans don’t mess around when it comes to their BBQ.
Another unexpected treat I experienced in Austin is trying the Hey… You Gonna Eat or What?’s award-winning Shiner Monte Cristo. It was A M A Z I N G. It impressed the pants off me! My tastebuds were blown away (as seen in my face in the video below). It was the perfect combination of sweet and salty and soft and crunchy…. ugh! My mouth is watering just writing about it. That dish alone is enough of a reason for me to fly back to Austin.
Shiner Monte Cristo: Shiner beer-battered sandwich filled with ham, turkey, mild cheddar, provolone with a side of fig jelly. If this sandwich was a person, I’d marry it.
We spent our last day, Sunday morning, kayaking around Lady Bird Lake. Another must-do when in Austin! The lake is fairly calm. There are no currents, so kayaking was more leisure than a cardio work-out. You might also meet ducks, turtles, and swans!
Thank you so much to our lovely friends, Sara and Nette, for welcoming us to their home and showing us around Austin! Scroll below to watch our video diary!
1) Bike around Zilker Park
2) Kayak on Lady Bird Lake
3) “Greetings from Austin” mural
4) South Congress Street
5) Sixth Street
6) Ride a mechanical bull
7) “You’re my Butter Half” mural
1) Franklin’s BBQ Address: 900 E. 11th Austin, TX 78702 Hours: Mon (closed), Tues – Sun (11:00AM – sold out!) *ARRIVE EARLY!*
2) Salt Lick BBQ Address: 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, TX, 78619 Hours: Everyday (11:00AM – 10:00PM) *CASH ONLY*
4) Hey… You Gonna Eat or What? Address: 1905 S. Capital of Texas Hwy Austin, TX 78704 Hours: Lunch (noon – 4:00PM), dinner (5:00PM – 9:00PM), Wed (closed)
*Please, do yourself a favor and order the Shiner Monte Cristo.
After traveling for nearly 24 hours, I finally set foot in Cusco, and the altitude welcomed me with open arms. The once capital of the Inca Empire, situated at 11,152 feet in the Peruvian Andes, Cusco has become a necessary a pit-stop for travelers seeking to visit the world-famous citadel. I researched substantially prior to my trip about avoiding altitude sickness, yet I found myself still vulnerable to the effects of the sudden change in elevation. For the next few hours upon my arrival, my breathing was labored. It was a conscious effort to inhale and exhale. My chest felt heavy, as if a person has pressed their foot on my lungs.