Tell me the name of one person who would not want to visit this great nation in this world. The United States of America, also known as the land of opportunities has been a dream to visit since I was a high school student. Being the world’s most powerful and economically developed nation, it is not only my but of millions of people’s dream and wish to get there and start a new life. Irrespective of who they are, what their religion is, what their economic background is: one can achieve anything they put in their mind in this land of opportunity with the right ingredient of hard work and perseverance.
However, my purpose of going to America was not as an immigrant to settle there and find a work but to see the beauty of its landscape, atmosphere, development, people, and its greatness etc. I went there to explore the cities, country sides and the wonders that make up the United States of America.
I flew from London Heathrow airport to John F. Kennedy International airport in New York. Usually the airfares during the summer are very high due to more demand from the customers who wish to travel during the pleasant weather. One of my friends who did the return ticket to Atlanta, USA paid almost £1000. That was a shock to me when I heard the air fare. This put my travel in jeopardy. I started to question myself whether I can afford to pay that huge amount for airfare. However, luckily among all the high price fares, there was a website less clicked which had cheaper offers. I got a return ticket from London Heathrow to Austin Texas for just £495. Can you believe that? A cost which is half the cost what my friend paid for. I would recommend everyone to make a thorough scan of the internet when looking for cheaper tickets. And do open this website (www.faregeek.co.uk) to see what their offer price for the air ticket is. I bet, 80% of the time it will be cheaper than most other sites which offer the same ticket. Never buy the tickets directly from the website of the airlines. They are expensive. And it is better to do the return ticket if you are planning to return, the trend shows that it is bit expensive to do the ticket from there to exit US.
After landing in New York to catch my other flight to Austin, I had to do all the necessary formalities like biometrics and customs clearing before moving on to the next terminal to catch my other flights. Always, get tickets for flights which have a transit longer than two hours. For newbies, it’s easy to get lost and miss the flight sometimes as the airports are mighty big and complex. So, always be on the safer side and there is no harm in waiting a bit extra.
It was a 14 hours journey to reach Austin, Texas. When you have relatives or friends in the place where you are visiting, life becomes bit cheap and easy. I did not have to book an Uber to get me to my address. My cousins were right at the exit and they drove me home straight way. There was not much energy left to look around, as well it had grown bit dark. The only thing I did after reaching my cousin’s place was to have dinner and hit the bed.
The houses in America are quite different to what you see in London. Unlike the conjoined houses in the UK, American had spacious single houses with plenty of space for garden and parking for 2-3 vehicles. You can clearly figure out that America is a bigger country when you see such wide spread roads and spaced houses. The traffic never stops. The high rise criss-crossed flyovers don’t rest at all. You seem to wonder where are all these people moving.
My first tour was to the capital city of Texas, Austin. It is one of the 11th most populated and fastest growing city in the US.
How to get to Austin?
Austin has an airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport which is located almost 8 km from the city. If you are flying from outside the United States, you must first land in some of the other bigger nearby airports like the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston which is a 3-hour drive from the city. In my case, I landed in JFK International Airport in New York and then changed the flight for Austin.
There is also a daily bus service (Megabus) from San Antonio, Dallas and Houston and public transportation inside the city is mainly through bus. Other options to see the Austin downtown is by cycling. Austin is a bike-friendly city in Texas and you can rent the bike for as little as $4 for time exceeding 1 hour. Uber taxis are available at the click of a button if you have registered with the app and they are also a reasonable mode of transport inside the city.
There are few major attractions in Austin of which I managed to visit a handful.
Texas State Capitol
The Capitol building is in downtown Austin and is four blocks south of the University of Texas at Austin. The entrance to the Capitol building is free of cost including the tour if you wish to know about the building, history of Texas and the legislature. If you don’t want a guided tour, you can roam around the building taking pictures as there is no restriction on photography.
University of Texas at Austin
Also located in the downtown Austin, the University of Texas at Austin is one of the most sought-after Universities in the USA. The historic campus of the University is available for touring to the public for free of charge. You can see the iconic Tower at the University and a picturesque view of the Texas State Capitol on its south.
The 360 Bridges
This bridge connects the northern and southern sections of the ‘Capital of Texas Highway’. It is built over lake Austin, Colorado river. This is one of the most picturesque urban drives in Texas. You can get the best shot for your picture from the north side of the Loop 360. If you are going by your car, park it by the side of the road and then it is a short walk up from there. Always be cautious with your feet and other belonging that you are carrying as the hill is quite steep and the wind makes it worse. From the top of the hill you get a long view of the Colorado river and people boating in the river.
Oasis is a restaurant over-viewing the beautiful picturesque view of the Lake Travis. The Oasis on the lake Travis is also called the ‘Sunset Capital of Texas’. Every year hundreds of visitors come to see this breath-taking view and the most spectacular sunsets. It would be idle for romantic couples spending their time together over the beautiful sunset view from the restaurant. However, everyone can enjoy the view it provides.
This landmark is one of the highest point in Austin and offers the most amazing view of the entire city. It is the best place to go to have a panoramic view of the city. The hike up to the top is short and not much tiring. It is located on the Bank of Colorado river which is now known to be Lake Austin. The direct overview from the top gives a beautiful view of the lake down with beautiful houses built alongside the bank of the river. You can see people relaxing and enjoy the water. Some maybe jet-skiing while others simply boating. This place is best to visit for everyone. This place not only offers a beautiful morning dawn but also the sunset.
Don’t forget to take your camera to capture the beauty of the place to cherish it for the rest of your life.
Radha Madhav Dham
For all the Hindu devotees there is one of the largest temples in the US, located southwest of Austin. It has a calm and serene environment with a beautiful and a colourful architecture of a Hindu temple. You can walk around the vast area the temple and enjoy the happiness you get by being blessed to be there. This place also offers residence for visitors who wish to attend some devotional activities. If you are a Hindu and in Texas, you should not miss to visit this wonderful place.
San Antonio is a 2-hour drive from Austin and you can either get an Uber or hire a rental car to get there. Those are the two most popular forms of transport in the US. The public buses and trains were not as efficient as the ones you find in London.
The attraction in San Antonio was the ‘River Walk’. The only bad thing of traveling to US during summer is the high temperature. Sometimes the temperature climbs up to as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, for me who had always dreamed of traveling to America, the temperature made no impact. With slightly long sleeve T-shirt covering my arm and suns cream over the face, my skin was protected from sun burn. If you don’t cover and apply suns cream and you are not so resistive to sun, then you would get the burns with the intense heat.
Houston is one of the largest cities in the US. It is 4-hour drive from Texas It is also a city associated with National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA). People from far and wide come to see the NASA museum, have a tour of the working facility of NASA and get an idea of how it is to work with the extra-terrestrial.
2 thoughts on “Visit to Austin, Texas- An Experience”
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