Having become fed-up with the mundaneness and repetitiveness of my working routine, I felt it was time to get out of the UK for a bit to travel, to meet some new people and to get away from it all. I didn’t have all that much money and was looking to do things on the cheap, so I asked a few close international friends if it would be possible to visit them and stay with them for a short while. Kindly one of my friends replied and he was, at the time, living in Texas. He said I was free to stay at his for as long as I wanted and to use it as my ‘’base,’’ should I want to travel around Texas or elsewhere in the States.
A Texan Surprise
Due to work constraints and a limited budget, I could only manage to go away for a month at that time, however anything longer than 90 days would’ve posed problems in terms of visa requirements. I booked my flights and was soon on my way to Fort Worth. Fort Worth forms a Metroplex with Dallas and a couple other towns, however is much different to Dallas, perhaps even more Texan! When I arrived, it must’ve been around 10am local time and the first thing that hit me (literally) was the brutal, dry and unrelenting Texas heat.
My body apparently couldn’t handle the frequent changes of temperature between the indoors and outdoors, and three days into my trip, I came down with a cold. By then, luckily, I had already managed cover all the tourist must-sees in downtown Fort Worth, most notably a fine beer emporium where I had the opportunity to sample the finest local brews.
Of course you can’t go to Texas without having some sort of cowboy experience and getting a feel of the old West, and so for that I went to the Stockyards. Now defunct and serving as a major tourist attraction, it used to be one of the major cattle auction- slaughter- and packing- centres in the US. When I was there, none of that bloody history was apparent and instead the Stockyards were inviting with their cowboy atmosphere and many inviting BBQ places and Steakhouses. I found it a great spot for the food, yes, but also as it was definitely a great escape from the sweltering Texan heat!
For those who don’t know yet, the Stockyards history might be a hint that meat holds a special place in Texas, and Texan BBQ is one of the best culinary experiences I’ve had. Different kinds of meat and pork, slowly prepared over an open pit, then smothered in delicious smoky BBQ sauce and served with sides of beans and coleslaw. Those are the staple ingredients of a Texas BBQ, so basically the average vegetarian’s nightmare, but pure bliss for anyone who eats meat, and certainly not to be missed.
And Now for Some Music
While Fort Worth had a lot to show for itself, I also got to go to Austin, the state capital and self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World.” And I must admit: it’s definitely not an exaggeration! As well as the many music festivals that take place throughout the year, the city also has so many live music clubs on offer, with something to suit every taste, no matter how obscure the genre. And all with an ‘awesome’ selection of beers!
I certainly found Austin unique and almost like a ‘’blue island’’ within a ‘’red state,’’ dominated by UT students and artsy folk. Apart from the sweltering heat and Texan food, I would have to say Austin didn’t strike me as being THAT Texan but it was definitely worth a visit.
Amazingly, my Texan friend wasn’t sick of me by the end of the month and even invited me to come back anytime for as long as I wanted. I will definitely be taking him up on the offer in the near future and am planning on spending a year out there, with a place of my own and to work over there. With the help of my friend, a little job research and this useful site with all the necessary US visa info, I hope to be soon living the American Dream! When back in Texas, I’ve also made it my goal to sample every single micro beer in the state – a goal that’ll certainly keep me occupied throughout the year!