Not my First Rodeo

Austin, TX

Finally, we flew somewhere! A trip without a bus!

And it was so damn early…

6am is not a good time to be leaving the airport, 4am is a worse time to be arriving at the airport

So the first thing to do when we arrived in the city, was get to the hotel and pray they’d let us check in 4 hours early so we could have a nap

And they did!

Then it was time to get out and explore once we looked a little less like death warmed up

The Capitol

Of the Capitol buildings I’ve been you, his one had more access than most – you could walk around and have a peek at the different rooms, plus they provided little maps with descriptions so you knew what you were looking at

There were some really nice details throughout the building, including “Texas Capitol” carved into the metal on each door hinge and a star on every door handle

It was a very impressive building

The long street outside is ‘Congress’ which runs down to the river and up to the University, so at any point along the road to downtown you can see Capitol – which led to a few nice photos and a reminder of where I was throughout my stay

Rodeo Austin

We realised a few weeks before we left that the Rodeo would be on while we were in Austin, which partially swayed us to go to Austin before New Orleans to make sure we’d get a chance to go

Plus, I thought it would be better to see Smokey Robinson than someone I’d never heard of

So we booked tickets and manipulated the plan a little bit

I later realised I wasn’t really sure what a Rodeo entailed, I knew it was horses or bulls or both, but what they actually do, I was a bit oblivious

When we arrived, there was a big fairground and food stands outside selling popcorns and candy floss and caramel corn and funnel cake and all the standard really bad food that comes with the fair

Inside, there were vendors selling clothes and jewellery and cowboy hats

Having looked at cowboy hats everywhere in Nashville, and seeing cowboys walking around the arena, I decided it was finally time to just get one – the good ones were $60, not a chance, but there were others for $20, which seemed reasonable

Now I just need to work out how to get it home

The Rodeo itself included lots of different elements:

  • Horse riding
  • Group ropes
  • Individual ropes
  • Kids on sheep
  • Horse bucking
  • Bull riding
  • Bull fighting (a least a demonstration)

The top 16 qualifiers for each will come back next week to compete again

I thought the kids on sheep was adorable, just hanging on, although they did not look like they enjoyed themselves

And the bull riding and bucking horses was impressive

But the ropes I really wasn’t a fan of – each cowboy waited on their horse for the gate to open and they would use the ropes to catch a calf, then jump off the horse and tie its feet together, then wait 6 seconds to check if the rope held and they would qualify based on how quickly they did it

This, more than the others, seemed very cruel to me, although very impressive to see the speed that they could do it, I didn’t like that there really was no need for it

Similarly, for the bull riding and horse bucking I wondered what they have to do to the animals to rile them up so much

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I felt a little guilty for doing so

Smokey Robinson

The man himself came out after the rodeo to perform for the very excited men and women

And the arena got considerably busier when he arrived than it had been for the rodeo

I had tried to look and see what songs he had before we booked the tickets, but wasn’t paying enough attention to notice

But as soon as he came out, I recognised them all and was quite happy singing along

He was quite the performer, telling stories about his life, the musicians he has worked with – mostly Stevie Wonder, Motown and the Miracles – randomly breaking into song mid story and showing off some dance moves that he maybe should’ve kept to himself, although they certainly entertained

One with the outdoors

A Google search highlighted that the best thing to do was go to the Capitol, and then after that we lacked some excitement on what to do for our only full day

So we headed down to the river to see what there was to do

The Congress bridge is home to thousands of bats that are supposed to fly out from underneath at sunset between March and November

But before we decided whether we’d stand around and wait to see it, we thought we’d have an investigate to see if there were any bats yet – there were, I could hear them all making funny noises under the bridge!

Once that was settled, we went for a walk along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail that runs along the Colorado River, until we came across some canoes and kayaks for hire at the Barton Springs

Not quite realising just how terrified of boats both Jack and I were, we went out on a metal canoe

Which turned out to be very unstable and we were both terrified we were going to capsize and ruin our belongings

So after about 15 minutes of hyperventilating we went back and swapped for the considerably more stable kayak

Then we were on our way!

This time we made it all the way out to the Colorado River, singing happily along the way, watching turtles climb trees and dogs on boogie boards

Music Capital of the US

Supposedly the most live music per capita in the US

Maybe so, but not on a Wednesday night in the hangover of SXSW

Which was a shame, but we didn’t really go there with music in mind, so nothing really lost

Wining and Dining

Rainey Street


110 beers on draught and the bar tender will quite happily explain them all, but for us just took a look at our warm faces and said “try these two refreshing beers and let me know which one you’d like”

They also do something like 34 different types of sausage – the smoked boar and the rabbit with mushroom ones looked pretty good to me

Container Bar

This was a pretty cool little bar that came about on a recommendation from a friend

A bar made up of lots of shipping containers, built together to make a large bar with different rooms

I can imagine it would be perfect on a warm, summer, weekend night

But on a chilly Wednesday in early spring, we just didn’t get our timings right

But nice cocktails!

Roaring Fork

For the ‘Big Ass Burger’, they did not play this one up, it is a BIG ASS BURGER

We stupidly got some green chilli beef with tortillas to share as a starter, which were delicious, but way too much

Managed half the burger and had to call it quits

Beef, bacon, cheese, pimento peppers, gherkins, lettuce, tomato, onion, chipotle mayo, and fries

Probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten

And it won best burger in Austin, so definitely worth a try

But it was just too much for my belly to take


A quirky little café in East Austin that does amazing breakfast tacos

As simple as eggs and chorizo in a little tortilla with some salsa on the side

Just so good

The Salt Lick

Around 25 miles (30 minutes) outside of Austin

Set in the Hill Country, a restaurant with, arguably, the best Texas BBQ in Austin

Again we went up there on a recommendation from several people

And managed to get a deal for joining Lift so it didn’t cost as much without having a car

It is a beautiful setting, no doubt about it

Arriving to a large wooden hut, with fairy lights everywhere, open land around, and the smell of the smoker

The inside wasn’t quite as impressive once you got away from the BBQ fire pit

Again, being a Wednesday it wasn’t as busy, so the atmosphere wasn’t as good as I would imagine it could be

But still, the food was amazing!

Pork ribs were so smoky and fell off the bone, moist brisket, and tasty sausage

The coleslaw and potato salad were pretty good for sides too, but I’ve had better beans


Really enjoyed Austin

If I could merge the day time of Austin with the night time of Nashville, I would be a very happy girl

And I managed to get myself in a fricking boat!

Austin, it’s been wonderful

Now, I’m going to take my bag, my cowboy hat, and my sunburn off to Louisiana….

…New Orleans, here I come!



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