Austin, Texas

Lizzie Adamson-Brown on 10 June 2014
We left the Alex Johnson early after breakfast and caught a flight from Rapid City to Austin via Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with American Airlines.

First stop in Austin was the Formula 1 track, Circuit of the Americas! This made my husband incredibly jealous as he is a mad F1 fan. It's a huge venue with a viewing tower. At the top of the tower was a glass floor, not for the faint hearted, but I managed it. The view over the track and the surrounding area was fabulous! I would love to go back one day to see a concert or for an F1 race (better take the hubby though)!

After leaving the track we headed to The Hilton Austin to check in. I found chocolate covered strawberries had been placed in my room, a nice touch! We got changed into our finest, for the festivities that were planned for tonight at the W Hotel.

Arrived at the W Hotel for the final night and the Grand Finale! This was an evening of dinner and presentations, bringing together all the other six groups that were in the USA as part of this trip!

Following all the formalities, we were treated by our hosts to a concert by the Gypsy Kings in a venue next door to the hotel. They were fabulous! What a lovely surprise. A trip down 4th Street afterwards was brilliant and we experienced the wonderful nightlife, true Austin style! I love live music, so I was in my element, where every bar had live music of different genres. Now I know why Austin is known as the ‘live music capital of the world!

Early morning after the night before! We came across a rooftop party playing live music until the early hours - what a way to finish the week!

We had our breakfast at the Stephen F Intercontinental with all seven groups from the trip and were entertained again with live music - what a place! A chance to take lots of group photos.

After breakfast we headed for a shopping trip to 'The Domain', which is an amazing open air, park style, shopping experience. If you are a big shopper, this is the place for you, as well as some fabulous restaurants to sample. There are even three hotels onsite!

I loved the next part of our visit, where we went to the Food Trailer Park. You can try every type of food in the world here, from Thai to BBQ on a trailer, which are all licensed and monitored for health and safety by the state. I tried some rib eye steak and some homemade ice cream, which was awesome! Finally, it was time to head for the airport with our new found friends, to head for home!

What I must say is, this has been the most awesome trip of my life - I didn't want it to end. I have visited and experienced some fabulous places, but the icing on the cake was the absolutely warm welcome we received from the people everywhere we went, including the native Americans, who are so keen to share their history and their passion. I am already planning another trip very soon, I might even bring hubby!

I have learned so much from my experiences that my customers will benefit hugely from this too, as I will be able to pass on information I have picked up and thus ‘paint real pictures’ for them, as well as giving tips on new places to visit in the USA and tours off the beaten track. They’ll find some absolute gems! I promise! For me, this is the ‘real’ USA!

A massive thank you too all our hosts, guides, hotels and to the American people in general!