Austin, Texas Travel Guides & Other Stuff

I got back from Austin almost a month ago. Time to post some stuff, huh?

Quick recap: I went to Austin for four days with my friends Shana and Kate. We’re all single, 20 somethings who love whiskey, and have conflicting tastes in men.

We stayed: at this cozy, Airbnb apartment over Sputnik on 6th Street. 

We ate: everywhere and everything.

We liked: the vibe, everything to do outdoors.

We didn’t like: the unreliable weather (we went in April, over Easter).

The guides: I wrote three day guides that have restaurant and activity picks around the city, depending on your mood.

Day #1: Get Cultured

on 6th Street.

on 6th Street.

UT Austin, Buenos Aires Cafe, and a cliche hipster tattoo. Go to Austin, get some culture, bro.

Day #2: Get Fit & Fat 

with Shana at the graffiti park.

with Shana at the graffiti park.

A little bit of fit, a little bit of fat. CorePower, Baylor Wall, Amy’s Ice Cream, and food trucks.

Day #3: Get Everything 



Greedy bastard. Uchi sushi, Rainey Street, and downtown Austin via water bike. Don’t overthink it.


Not enough?

Read all of the mushy stuff I wrote about my favorite places in Austin.

Buenos Aires Cafe: Empanadas & First Impressions- About meeting Kate for the first time, and some amazing Argentinian food we had.

Austin is not a hipster Disneyland - How the general vibe of Austin vibed with me.


Some jargon: Don’t steal this stuff from me. Seriously. I’ll find you. All of the sarcastic remarks and adventures are mine, as well as the doodles. The texture used in my travel guides, “BB_VintagePaper_05″ was used under an attribution license on Flickr Creative Commons. Credit for that goes to Dustin Schmieding.

Happy Birthday, Rachel.

It’s a Friday.

“Do  you want to dance?” the dark haired, slightly exotic looking guy says.

“Depends. Are you going to make it weird?” I ask, loudly, trying to be heard over the sound of Pravda’s speakers.

Maybe it was the couple of drinks I had, or the shot of fireball I insisted we take, but for some reason, I missed one of my closest friends, Rachel, sending me telepathic “HE’S A CREEPER” messages, during this entire back and forth.

It’s very telling of our friendship – me, the sassy one, with a tendency to overlook details and welcome the unknown, and Rachel, the meticulous, determined one – the one who eventually refused to dance with us, informing me that the guy dancing with me (and yes, making it weird although he said he would not), had been gawking at us awkwardly the entire night.

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“I want to see how this story ends.”

I’m not a Kardashian fan. I don’t like their reality show, and I was never really into their brand (with one exception, my fake leather leggings that are actually from one of their clothing lines, but that was unintentional).

But I watched Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer last night. Motivated by various sources, I decided to switch it on before going to sleep. From the beginning, Bruce captivated me.

Within minutes, I started crying. Especially when Bruce talked about considering suicide, instead of dealing with all the pain she was going through. Then she said something that pierced me -

“I want to see how this story ends.”

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If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve.

I got baptized this weekend.


I was so nervous.

The girl who quit her job to go to Iceland, the girl who woke up one day and decided to dye her hair blue, was trembling, shaking before she got baptized.

I’ve been attending The Summit Church (Blue Ridge) for about… 2-3 months. This past Sunday was different. I went to church carrying something I hadn’t in a long time.


It seems the closer I grow to God, and the stronger I get in my faith, the more I’m testing.

Yes, I said testing and not tested.


Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been tested. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed. I’ve been thrilled at the wins – the moments where I’m faced with temptation, or faced with a difficult decision, and I make the right choice. I’ve been humbled by the failures, and at times, devastated. I’ve asked for forgiveness, and tried to move forward.

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Buenos Aires Cafe: Empanadas & First Impressions

“That’s Marceline,” I say, mid sip, not even trying to hide my enthusiasm.

Our waitress smiles and nods, proudly displaying the small Adventure Time tattoo on her forearm. I muse about Adventure Time for a moment, by far, one of my favorite shows, while trying to detect whether or not the red wine I’m drinking was stored in an oak barrel.

It’s a humid Thursday night in Austin. For our first dinner out, we decide on a small Argentinian restaurant, appropriately named Buenos Aires Cafe.

I couldn’t resist the empanadas.

It’s funny that I ended up in an Argentinian restaurant in Austin, seeing that Argentina is high on my bucket list of places to go, as Austin has always been. Shana and Kate seem to be enjoying it, as we all struggle to pull off pieces of the melted provolone appetizer we ordered.

I’ve known Shana for about a year now, but I had only met Kate that day. I start asking her interview-style questions, ranging from how she sees her career evolving, to what type of guy she’s into. Shana sits and enjoys her wine, seeing that we already know everything there is to know about the other.

Dinner at Buenos Aires Cafe.

Dinner at Buenos Aires Cafe.

When there’s pause in conversation, I gaze out the window onto 6th Street. Bikers ride by, slightly blurred by the view from below my wine glass. Across the street, people gather around the various food trucks – that sell everything from Philly cheesesteaks to New Orleans inspired beignets.

It’s the first phase of the trip, where I’m just trying to figure out Austin. It’s kind of like when I met Kate earlier, at the airport. I heard good things, I heard nice things, but I was still trying to piece together what makes them tick.

The bar and restaurant below our apartment.

The bar and restaurant below our apartment.

Kate is bubbly and effervescent, but Austin is harder to crack. That’s what is so incredible about travel. Every city block, every park or restaurant has a unique personality. Even our Airbnb apartment is vibrant, bright and “kitchy” – a term I define to Kate as “slightly tacky, but still cute.”

A room in our Airbnb.

A room in our Airbnb.

For example, this restaurant has that amazing third date vibe. Dishes can be shared, and the tables are close. The menu has an endless amount of wine, and the cafe is meticulously decorated. A large, diner-like case of pies and desserts helps diffuse any stuffiness.

I can just see myself there in a cozy corner, deep in discussion with a glass of Malbec in hand. Ideally, with a dreamy Jeffrey Dean Morgan lookalike named Kyle or George rescued a German Shepard puppy from a burning building and can build a bookshelf with an axe, a log, and a couple of nails.

Hey, doesn’t have to be a sturdy bookshelf.

But for now, I’m there with Shana and Kate – and I’m so happy about it. The three of us leave the cafe full, but brimming with excitement. In just a day, Austin, and new friend Kate, have already made a great first impression.



Verdura Empanadas
Ahi Tuna (off menu)



Austin is not a hipster Disneyland

“Can I have a dirty martini?” Shana asks, loudly, over the sound of the live music.

“We don’t have that,” the young, boyish looking bartender says.

She asks for another specialty cocktail, and again, he says they don’t have it.

“Can I have a Corona?” Kate asks, a bit hesitant.

“Yeah,” he answers, slightly amused. “But we only have cans.”

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My Star Wars Garbage Compactor World

I’ve talked a lot about success, but not a lot about what hinders success.  A few days ago, I posted a quote on Driftyland’s FB page  from Judges 1:8-2:3. I was watching a sermon about The Causes and Cure for Spiritual Inconsistency on The Summit’s website, when I heard J.D. Greear say:

“Small areas of disbelief produce large areas of disaster.”

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Joan at Temple, glory days.

She Said Yes

Writing a book is hard.

I started writing Cold Island (my Icelandic travel guide) TWO YEARS AGO… and it’s still not done. Partially because I waited too long to write it, and partially, because I want to go back. When the idea for Conversations popped into my head, I felt immediately inspired in a ohivetotallygotthis kind of way.

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Bloody Mary at P&L

A Month Without Alcohol

A month ago, I gave up alcohol.

The most important reason is simple – I felt compelled to. After a bad date, and one too many drinks, I woke up the next day feeling emotionally exhausted and shitty.

That afternoon, we had a margarita lunch at work. I decided to pass on it. It was just because I felt like a shitty bag of garbage. That night, I skipped drinking again. For some of the same reasons. I had a dinner party on Saturday, and decided to skip alcohol then, too.

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The Legendary George Miller

I was sitting in an auditorium on Temple University’s campus, eight years ago, when I heard it for the first time.

“You can always learn something from any situation,” my professor, George Miller, told us. “Even if it doesn’t seem like it.”

It’s a lesson that I’ve applied to countless moments since. During waits at the DMV, in the middle of uninteresting conversations, and even during my morning commute, I’ve thought: “Hey – pay attention. What could you learn right now?”

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