New York's local 'villages' and hip Austin (HomeAway HQ!)
The eighth country on the Grantourismo itinerary was the USA, where Lara and Terry spent the entire month of July. First they visited New York City, where they rented a small studio in the East Village. After two weeks spent exploring New York's local 'villages', they headed to Austin, Texas, home to HomeAway HQ, a hip city filled with live music, cowboy boots and more! Even though it wasn't their first trip to New York, the couple still had plenty of areas to explore, while in Austin they discovered a lively city with friendly people and a creative, buzzy atmosphere.
Read all Lara and Terry's posts on their trip to the USA
New York City
Although this wasn't Lara and Terry's first visit to New York, they still found the city overwhelming. It's impossible to do everything in this colossal city in just one visit, so where to start?! As one of the key themes of their 'Grand Tour' is local travel, they decided to do just that - stay 'local' by concentrating on their 'village' and a few other specific neighbourhoods. They got a kick-start from our friends at Context, who run walking tours for 'intellectually curious' travellers, by signing up for the Context Greenwich Village Walk with local architect Michelle Cianfaglione.
Meeting and getting to know the locals was also top of the list and they found New Yorkers to be responsive, friendly, easygoing, and happy to meet for a drink to share advice on the best ways to experience their home. New York writer David Farley advised them to avoid chain restaurants and coffee houses, while Rob Hollander, a linguist, author, researcher, historian, community activist, preservationist, and actor offered them an insight into the East Village. Lara and Terry also visited the East Village’s Community Gardens, a great place to experience a side of the city not covered in the guidebooks.
Finally, as New York is as well-known as London for its diverse cuisine, the couple decided to undertake an ethnic-focused culinary adventure and tuck into local, affordable and authentic representations of the cuisines of immigrants, however they were left rather disappointed. Only after taking Context’s ‘Tasting the Immigrant Experience’ walk with culinary historian and chef Cathy Kaufman did they realise the difference between food that has been adapted to please local palates and food that has remained authentic and true to its origins.
Read all Lara and Terry's posts on their trip to New York City
When they first checked-in at Rusty Iron's property in Austin (yes, that's her real name!), Lara and Terry were impressed by the owner's care, thoughtfulness and attention to detail that extended right through the property, not to mention the pantry in the kitchen, which was a veritable museum to local produce! This true 'home from home' showed them that it is indeed possible to have the best of both worlds – the freedom, flexibility and space of a holiday rental, PLUS the luxuries, amenities and service of a five-star hotel.
Austin, which is also HQ to HomeAway, Inc., is a cool and vibrant place with funky and creative people, so Lara and Terry decided to focus their visit on delving in to this creative side. They went to gigs, visited music stores and chatted with musicians and filmmakers. They interviewed Suzanna, a young singer-guitarist, whom they met when she was performing with her band at the café at Central Market. And they also learned more about the music that defines Austin from John Kunz, owner of local music store, Waterloo Records.
However, even though Austin is known as the USA’s live music capital, this arty, laid back city also has a flourishing film scene. So while talking to Joel, the owner of their second Austin holiday rental, the couple also learned more about his thoughts on the city's film scene. And, to finish off their visit, the Grantourismo team mingled with the locals at The Broken Spoke, Austin’s famous honky tonk country dance hall, where Lara had her first lesson on the Texas Two Step!
Read all Lara and Terry's posts on their trip to Austin
The property is available to rent on HomeAway.co.uk (Property 143208).
Read Lara and Terry's full review of the property
Property 274021 - Lara and Terry's second 'HomeAway from home' in Austin was a stylish mid-Century townhome located in Travis Heights, one of Austin's most desirable and unique neighbourhoods. The property is beautifully appointed with custom walnut cabinetry, stained concrete floors, stainless steel appliances, comfortable beds, and modern, cozy furnishings. It has two good-sized bedrooms, one with a huge walk-in closet, a light-filled bathroom with stylish fittings and a large open-plan living area.
The property is available to rent on HomeAway.co.uk (Property 274021).
Read Lara and Terry's full review of the property
Next stop...Mexico, stay tuned!
HomeAway.co.uk currently lists more than 600 city centre properties in New York City, as well as over 400 holiday homes in Austin, Texas.
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