Holiday Diary: Austin, Texas 2015

As you know, I was away in Austin, Texas for the past two weeks to visit one of my best friends, Chloë. This was my first time to visit the US, my first time on a flight across the Atlantic Ocean and my first time on a holiday for more than 10 days! I was super excited for all of these firsts, but mostly I was super excited to spend two weeks with my best friend! The holiday consisted of infectious laughter, drinking cocktails, eating delicious food, swimming in freshwater springs, making friends with plenty of strangers, bikini days, shorts days and zero heels! And a Killer Fashion holiday wouldn’t be complete with some killer fashion, so here’s my holiday diary of what I wore (most of them at least!), plus details of the city & my recommendations of what’s good if visiting Austin, Texas

Day One

My journey to Austin began on Saturday 4th April and it was going to be a very long day, so comfort was key for my travelling outfit. I wore my this laid back look, which is a first for wearing these pieces together. You probably saw this on my Instagram and I’m delighted with the feedback! I especially love my good friend Timi’s comment; “Now that is a great outfit!” Thanks Timi! The flight took approx 9.5 hours from Dublin to Atlanta, then a six-hour layover in ATL airport followed by a 2.5 hour flight to Austin. I eventually arrived in Chloë’s apartment as midnight struck (in Texas) and needless to say, I was shattered!

  • Top: Wildfox Couture Cat & Moon Baggy Beach Jumper, Billabong Print Tank (worn underneath)
  • Trousers: Soho Market NYC Floral Printed Harem Pants
  • Shoes: Converse All Star Low Leather Optical
  • Sunglasses: Penneys
  • no makeup

Day Two (Easter Sunday)

On my first official day in Austin, Chloë and I went for Easter brunch and then she showed me around town. It wasn’t a hot day so I wore high-waisted jeans with some light tops and open sandals as it does get rather humid. As for my jewellery, I kept it simple with my favourite Glitz N Pieces earrings and silver jewellery.

  • Top: Penneys Floral Kimono & Crochet Crop Top, Urban Outfitters Bandeau (worn underneath)
  • Jeans: Bershka High Waisted Jeans
  • Shoes: Kurt Geiger Molly Sandals
  • Earrings: Glitz N Pieces Waltz Earrings
  • Bracelets: Live Lokai Classic BraceletFirenze Stainless Steel Stretch Enamel Bracelet
  • Watch: Tissot Ballade III
  • Body Chain: Penneys
  • Sunglasses: Penneys
  • no makeup

Day Six

On Thursday April 9th, Chloë and I were heading to a concert after work (Chloë had to work the first week of my holiday, which gave me time to catch up on my FutureLearn course), and I had bought us matching t-shirts while using my Penneys voucher I had won from the Haute So Fabulous party. It features a little cat with a unicorn horn that is saying “I’m a unicorn”, and my gosh are they so darn cute! We ended up wearing very matchy-matchy outfits, and later we explored Dirty 6th Street, a whole street full of bars that is very similar to Temple Bar.

Day Seven

On Friday night, Chloë and I were hitting West 6th Street, a bustling area of bars with a higher class than that of Dirty 6th, so dresses were a must. However, I somehow managed to forget to bring any dresses! I know right! Luckily Chloë and I are the same size and I borrowed this gorgeous magenta pink bandage dress. A fun night of drinks and dancing!

Day Nine

Recovering a bit from the night before, (on Saturday we went to a house party and then back to the apartment, drank more Champagne and played Kings!), Day 9 was a relaxing but adventurous day. Along with Chloë’s lovely friend Caroline, we hit up Chi’Lantro for Asian-fusion burritos and then walked through Barton to go boating on Barton Creek & Colorado River (more details about these below). It was indeed a hot, hot day so shorts were a necessity.

  • Top: Marks & Spencer Cool-Comfort Camisole Top
  • Shorts: Penneys Floral Crochet Trim Distressed Denim Shorts
  • Shoes: Kurt Geiger Molly Sandals
  • Watch: Michael Kors Parker Chronograph
  • Sunglasses & Belt: Penneys
  • no makeup

Day 10

I was very excited for my first sunbathing day. Chloë talks about Barton Springs a lot, and now I finally know why! (More details about these below.) With my voucher I also bought a new bikini and it was the perfect strapless that really embodies my personality; fun, flirty & girly!

  • Top: Penneys Crochet Crop Top
  • Shorts: Penneys Floral Crochet Trim Distressed Denim Shorts
  • Shoes: ASOS (not pictured)
  • Belt, Body Chain & Sunglasses: Penneys
  • Watch: Tissot Ballade III

Day 11

Day 11 started off cloudy & overcast, so back to the jeans I went but not without a bit of cooling down via my mesh floral print tee, that I had bought for my previous holiday in Tenerife. We had brunch and explored the SoCo District, then (walked and) visited Austin’s Texas Capitol at Congress, and later in the evening went to the Alamo cinema to see ‘While We’re Young’ (more details about these below).

  • Top: River Island Mesh T-shirt, Urban Outfitters Bandeau (worn underneath)
  • Jeans: Bershka High Waisted Jeans
  • Shoes: ASOS Sandals
  • Necklace: Glitz N Pieces Midnight Mist
  • Bracelets: Live Lokai Classic BraceletFirenze Stainless Steel Stretch Enamel Bracelet
  • Watch: Tissot Ballade III
  • Bag: Soho Market NYC

Day 13

Day 13 was my last night out with the girls and we had one helluva party night! Having been in SoCo a few days before, I picked up this lovely LBD from a boutique and could not wait to wear it. Together with a waistbelt and some glitz & glam, I was ready to hit up Dirty 6th Street with the girlies!

Day 14

For my final day in Austin, Chloë and I went to visit the University of Texas at Austin. It was a fun day, even with the rain & thunder because being with your best friend is always fun! We even snuck onto the Austin Longhorns pitch right before the first rainfall heehee! Later that evening we headed over to a friend’s apartment for final drinks & chats so casual attire was worn (and borrowed).

By Day

By Night

Austin Details

I flew via KLM by Delta Airlines (Dublin-Atlanta 9 hours, Atlanta-Austin 2.5 hours with six-hour layover; Austin-New York 3.5 hours, New York-Dublin 6.5 hours with ten-hour layover), and stayed with Chloë in her apartment at University Estates, Crossing Place. There are bus routes that go from the suburbs to Downtown Austin and run rather frequently, as well as a free shuttle bus to the University of Texas from University Estates, and other associated estates. There is a Premium 7-day pass you can buy at $16.75, which allows you access to MetroRapid, Flyer routes 100-199 plus all Local service buses. Another mode of transport that is big in Austin is Uber; the app-driven taxi ride that’s private, mobile and cashless. It’s similar to our Hailo except it tends to be normal non-taxi people earning extra bob on the side. Uber is also available in Dublin, so I may indeed start venturing out with Uber in mind.

Austin is a big town but more so as it’s very spread out, so if you’re heading out there, bring shoes to walk in as if you’re anything like Chloë and I you’ll walk from the top of SoCo to the Capitol at the other end! The SoCo District is very hipster and very cool. It’s a long strip of boutiques, stores, restaurants & bars on South Congress Avenue where all the cool kids hang out. Be sure to visit the Magnolia Café and Amy’s Ice Creams (more details below), Doc’s for some chilled out Texas draft beers, sports & tacos and venture into the boutiques. Visit The Domain if you can too. It’s a great big outdoor mall, which houses many shops we don’t have in Dublin. I visited Victoria’s Secret, Anthropologie, Apple, Free People, Ben Bridge, Forever 21, Zara, H&M, Macy’s and more. For another great experience, visit Barton Springs in Zilker Park. This is a freshwater springs swimming pool area that’s cornered off from the free-flowing Barton Creek river so there are no currents, but also no chlorine, yay! Lifeguards are constantly on hand, and you can gain entry for $3/day if you’re a resident of Austin or $6/day if you’re not (though just say you are, they won’t check!). It’s delightful here, though be warned – the water is cold. But with temperatures up to 30°C this was no problem at all. You can also go boating, kayaking or standing-paddling on Barton Creek and out to the Colorado River that runs through Austin City. I was very nervous about this as I really don’t like to be uncomfortable around masses of water…but I did it! Chloë & Caroline were great at keeping me calm and we even rescued a guy in his boat that had no paddle as he was floating away from his friends!

Before getting on the plane from Dublin, ensure you have US Dollars sorted. The easiest and definitely most convenient way is to get a An Post-issued PostFX MasterCard Currency Card, available at most post offices around Ireland. It’s very simple to receive: you’ll need a current (last 6 months) bank statement, your passport or Garda ID and enough cash in either your bank account or cash in hand to apply. Once in the US you’ll have easy access to pay for anything & everything (except some online purchases) as you just have to sign for your receipts, or go to an ATM & take out dollars. A big thing not to forget in Austin, tip your waiters! Book your holiday now at KLM/Delta Airlines Booking.com for accommodation, remember to apply for your ESTA early to gain entry into the US and double-check all flight times, rules & regulations.

Recommendations

Austin is a great city for food, there is so much flavour & so many choices, but also because “everything is bigger in Texas!” Check out these places, and if you visit, let me know if you liked it too!

Second Bar + Kitchen, 200 Congress Ave, TX 78701: For Easter Sunday brunch, Chloë took me downtown to Second, which part of the Congress restaurants family. The interior is a lovely, relaxed and sophisticated vibe and the food is just as delightful. Having a brilliant choice of brunch food is always a plus for me, and their staff is extremely friendly & attentive. Click to visit Second Bar + Kitchen
Tried & Tested: SBK Benedict, Smoked Salmon Rilettes, Mi-Mimosa cocktails

Rainey Street, TX 78701: This hip area is a street of refurbished suburban houses that are now sophisticated, trendy & eclectic bars! I adore this idea, it’s every bit Austin and every bit cool, and I just love the idea of it. It’s definitely a hidden gem in the big city and there are some great places to check out here.
Tried & Tested:
 Bangers Sausage House & Beer Garden – Crispin Cider, House Cider with Raspberry; Icenhauer’s – The Allison Sangria Mason Jars; Austin Container Bar – Pain Killer cocktail; Little Lucy’s mini donuts

Baby A’s,1705 South Lakeshore Blvd, TX 78741:Having my first bite of Austin-cooked Tex Mex food was a big deal for me, because I love Mexican cuisine and I had high hopes. I was very satisfied afterwards, because although Baby A’s isn’t a fancy place – it’s a tasty place! Family friendly and they are responsible for the infamous Purple Rita cocktails that allow a maximum of 2 per person! Click to visit Baby A’s
Tried & Tested: Triple Stack Quesadillas with Chicken Fajita, Nachos with Queso, Purple Rita cocktail

24 Diner, 600 North Lamar Blvd, TX 78703: For my second Austin brunch, Chloë and Tanya brought me to 24 Diner, which was truly delicious. Similar to Second, the vast variety on the menu had me going back & forth between choices but I’m happy with what I ordered because it was every bit tasty. And the mimosa also helped heehee! Click to visit 24 Diner
Tried & Tested: Veggie Hash with a side of Applewood-Smoked Nitrate-free Bacon & Granary Toast, Mimosa Service

Blackfinn Ameripub at The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, TX 78758: As mentioned above, the girls and I went to The Domain on Saturday afternoon for some shopping, and although I only left with one bag of goodies (Victoria’s Secret, finally!), we did also lunch in one of the many restaurants and my oh my was it delicious! The staff at Blackfinn were extremely good and our waiter Ben was very helpful with the ice tea choices haha, so thanks for that! Click to visit Blackfinn Ameripub
Tried & Tested: Cashew Chicken Big Salad, Ice Tea (unsweetened & sweetened)

Chi’Lantro, 1509 South Lamar Blvd, TX 78704: Food truck food is one of the big things I’ve wanted to try while in America. I’m a big fan of Guy Fieri’s ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ TV show, so Chloë knowing great spots had me all sorts of excited. Before our boating trip on the town lake, we had brunch at Chi’Lantro for Korean BBQ burritos! What a brilliant idea for food this is and with delicious results too. The fried egg within my burrito was quite a tasty surprise. Click to visit Chi’Lantro
Tried & Tested: The Original Kimchi Fries with Soy Glazed Chicken (Gluten Free), Burrito with Soy Glazed Chicken (lime buttered rice, black beans, soy vinaigrette salad, a fried egg, cilantro, onions, cheddar + Monterey jack, magic sauce, Chi’Lantro salsa and sesame seeds)

Z’Tejas, 1110 West 6th St, TX 78703: Z’Tejas is one of Chloë’s absolute favourite restaurants in Austin, so I had to try it too! It’s a large restaurant on West 6th Street that has a number of outdoor areas (none of which I noticed customers smoking in – happy days!), and quite an extensive menu. On the two occasions we went there for dinner, there was live music playing and there are usually drink specials on too. Z’Tejas also serve Happy Hour cocktails, and we bagged a Happy Hour wine special that was 50% off the bottle, so we only paid 25% each! Can’t go wrong with that. Plus I got to try an American peanut butter pie. Holy…moly! Click to visit Z’Tejas
Tried & Tested: Chicken Artichoke & Mushroom Stack, Green Chile Barbacoa Enchiladas, Smoked Chicken Chile Relleno, Peanut Butter Pie, Ancho Fudge Pie, Chambord Margarita cocktail, SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc white wine

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 1120 South Lamar Blvd, TX 78704: Ok one place I really recommend to visit is an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. This will be such an amazing experience for you, as it definitely was for me. What the Alamo is, is a cinema that shows the latest movies with their own-created trailers & pre-movie videos (which are hilarious!) and…dinner at your seats while you watch! Yes – you could order a burger, a pizza, fries, desserts, alcoholic milkshakes, beer, etc. from the comfort of your seat before & during the movie. Fantastic right! We saw ‘While We’re Young’ starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried & Adam Horovitz and I also recommend that film. Click to visit Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Tried & Tested: Loaded Fries (with cheddar, smoked bacon, sriracha, sour cream, scallions and cilantro), Mozzarella Sticks with Tomato Chutney, Irish Coffee Shake

Magnolia Café South, 1920 South Congress Ave, TX 78704: As I mentioned, brunch is a big thing because really it’s breakfast food at lunch hours and who’s going to say no that while they’re on holidays! We went to Magnolia Café for my first breakfast tacos, which were truly delightful and a real treat as a cheap breakfast pick me up. I also managed to have a good cuppa while brunching, which is a big thing for any Irish on holiday outside of the homeland. Click to visit Magnolia’s Café
Tried & Tested: The Flaco Taco (scrambled egg, avocado, cheese and crispy bacon in flour tortilla with tomato chutney)

Amy’s Ice Cream, 1301 South Congress Ave, TX 78704: I love a good ice cream on a hot day, and in Austin, Amy’s Ice Creams are famous. They do this amazing thing where they take a scoop of your chosen ice cream flavour and then smash it out to resemble a flattened block, lay on your chosen ‘crush’ and smash it out before turning the block back into a round scoop, flipping it in the air and landing it in your cup. WOW! By chance, Chloë’s roommate also works for Amy’s Ice Creams making & decorating their cakes. Click to visit Amy’s Ice Cream
Tried & Tested: Amaretto ice cream with crushed Oreo Cookies

West & Dirty 6th Street, TX 78701: Downtown Austin does have great nightlife spots and Chloë & her friends showed me their favourite spots, which was thoroughly enjoyable. As mentioned above, West 6th Street is a chic but urban area of bars while Dirty 6th Street is known to be full of the younger crowd, big parties, hen nights & stag dos and reminded me of Temple Bar. At night there is no through traffic for vehicles bar, which is definitely a good call.
Tried & Tested: West 7th – The Dogwood, The Ranch; Dirty 6th – Maggie Mae’s, Blind Pig Pub, Shakespeare’s Pub, The Dizzy Rooster

Images © Nirina Plunkett

One thought on “Holiday Diary: Austin, Texas 2015

  1. Pingback: OTD This Week | Killer Fashion

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