Category Archives: Escapades

Travel Getaways

Austin, TX

One of the trips I went on this summer was to hipster capital Austin, TX. Officially the capital of Texas, Austin has dubbed itself the ‘live music capital of the world’ and is home to the University of Texas.

This was my first time to Texas and Austin was a great introduction. Southern hospitality is a serious thing and was in abundance there. I didn’t come across one person who wasn’t friendly, helpful and smiling from ear to ear. Not sure if the cheery demenour is due to the sunny weather or the great food, but the people were probably my favourite part of Austin.

A close second was the food. Austin has probably the world’s best selection of food trucks. I wasn’t club hopping at night. I was food truck hopping. Jumping from one truck with tacos in hand, to the next that served hot donuts to another that had yummy Thai food.

If you’re in Austin you have to check out East Side Kings which is the love child of chefs Paul Qui (winner of Top Chef Season 9) and Moto Utsunomiya. The chefs are inspired by “Asian cultures, rock bands and Austin’s laid-back, experimental and fun-loving vibe.”

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Another cherished food truck was Gourdough’s where we stuffed our faces with ‘big fat donuts’ served pipping hot. I can’t even begin to describe the gooey goodness and sticky deliciousness that was Gourdough’s. They had this dipping sauce called ‘honey butter’ which is exactly what it sounds like. Buttery goodness. I really wished they delivered to Toronto.

Other than pick up trucks and cowboy boots, Texas is known for good BBQ. You can’t come to the lone star state without savouring good Texas BBQ. We walked into Rudy’s like deer trapped in headlights. Overwhelmed. There were so many options of meat but thankfully the servers realized we needed help and made us a sample plate to try out the various cuts of meat. It resulted in an amazing meal that led to a worthy state of comatose.

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For me, a day begins with good coffee. Now while on vacation because I can take my time enjoying breakfast, I like to have pancakes along with that coffee. A good breakfast spot is graded on having impeccable coffee, free refills and fluffy pancakes. The best breakfast place we ate at was Magnolia Cafe. Their pancakes were lay-down-and-have-a-nap-on-them worthy. The coffee was so good, I wanted to leave with the pot. The ambiance was true to the South Congress (SoCo) vibe (more on that below) and felt very chill.

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A theme running throughout that city was ‘Keep Austin Weird’ which harks to the the city’s unified stance on avoiding becoming a large commercialized city and wanting to hold onto it’s musical and artistic culture. A cool area to see that eclectic side is South Congress (SoCo), which was lined with funky shops, cool cafes and bustling vintage stores. I could’ve spent days just walking around SoCo taking in all the sights. A cool store to get lost in is Uncommon Objects. Walking through there felt like uncovering lost treasures in your well traveled uncle’s garage.

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One last thing that I got to enjoy in Austin was their natural spring water pools. Helping me deal with the heat was going for a swim in Texas’ oldest man made swimming pool, the Deep Eddy. This pool had cool waters and was not overly populated with swimmers in the mornings. Getting a bit of a workout in helped me rationalize all the over eating throughout the day.

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If you ever get a chance to travel to Austin, check out some of the places I’ve listed and I hope you have as much fun as I did. If you’ve already been, what were some of the cool places you saw and enjoyed?

Travelling While Black

Travelling is food for the spirit, the way laughter is medicine for the soul. For me, a trip away rejuvenates and inspires unlike anything else. Getting to see, feel and taste another culture awakens within us our true sense of humanity, emphasizing just how similar we all are. And just how beautiful this wide world is.

My list of places to visit is long and daunting but I try my best to get away every few months. Or else the monotony of day to day would bore me to death. So it was a pleasant find to come across the blog Travel Noire , “a blogging platform featuring cultivated insights from a global community of black travelers. Founded by a Glamour Magazine award-winning entrepreneur.” I spent hours pouring over posts on how to work abroad, how to earn free flyer miles, how to upgrade seats from economy to business class for free and countless other posts on how to be a smart traveller. Its like someone took all my ‘what if…” questions re travelling and answered them in one blog.

Travel Noire Manifesto

Also, I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to travel to other cities as a black woman. I have friends and family of various ethnicities so when they give me their feedback, I appreciate it but wonder if my experience might be different as a woman of colour. Well Travel Noire provides ‘cultivated insights from a global community of black travellers.” Again, here was a space where I could connect with like minded folks who have been bitten by the travel bug like moi.

Not just a blog featuring posts on what best to see and experience in various cities, Travel Noire has a Manifesto with detailed tips on how to travel for less and how to be a savy traveller that does more than just take in the sights but truly breathes in the local culture.

Please take the time to check out this fascinating blog and their captivating Instagram page (@Travelnoire). Promise it’ll have you booking a flight somewhere very soon.