All about Austin Texas
Austin is a city that likes to remind everyone that it’s a little bit different from the rest of Texas. At the same time, the rest of state treats the city like the artistic nephew that it’s openly proud to have but secretly wishes would just keep to itself.
For years, it has fostered the art and music communities and is now one of the hippest places in the USA.
When it comes to Austin, ‘Deep South’ refers only to the philosophers who have taken up residence here.
It’s a university city and the streets downtown are lined with bars to satiate the thirst of the students.
In a somewhat symbiotic way, the musicians use the bars to peddle their latest tunes while the students support the gigs, hoping one day they’ll have bragging rights to discovering ‘the next big thing’.
That’s not to say the big name musicians don’t also come through Austin. On any night of the week there are concerts at venues across the city and it’s possible to pack a lot of shows into any stay.
However, fitting them all in is like the Texan justice system – all about the execution.
One evening, on the streets of Austin, a man suddenly appeared through a window of a club. This should have been an odd thing, but this was no ordinary man.
This was a guitar-wielding monster who faced into the street and played his instrument until everyone walking past was hypnotised by his moves. His notes rang out across the street and his siren song caught many a merry passer-by.
Keep Austin weird
All of this is not to say that Austin isn’t Texan. You only have to browse the stores in another part of town, South Congress, to realise that.
There are cowboy boot stores, there are cowboy shirt stores, there are even cowboy boots and shirt stores.
Y’all want a hat where some of the profits support the National Rifle Association? Then y’all come to the right place.
Even the Texan-style shopping has still got a uniquely Austin feel, though. One restaurant we stopped at for lunch in South Congress had a large sign with food and drink specials that changed depending on the official weather forecast.
If it hits 100 degrees Fahrenheit then the frozen margaritas are only $1.99, for instance.
That restaurant didn’t have a personalised letter of support from George W Bush. The ribs barbecue joint I went to one night did.
It was hanging quite close to the photo and signature of Rick Perry’s (probably from back from a time when a bbq was more important than a tea party).
That’s the nice thing about Austin – parts of it may be quite cool and conservative but there’s still an acknowledgement to the people who make sure the citizens can buy cheap petrol.
There’s a Southern hospitality in the city that would be a potential stereotype if it wasn’t so heartfelt.
The guys that drove me around in their ‘pedicabs’ late one night were genuinely friendly…
The locals who invited me to join their pre-drinks before the football were actually glad to host me.
And the man who ran the burger stand on the corner of Sixth Street was happy to give me and my friends a complimentary meal because we were the most entertaining customers he’d met all night.
(Incidentally, his name was Marco Polo and we last saw him shouting ‘Polo’ to our ‘Marco’ as we turned a corner).
Austin is a city that likes to remind everyone that it’s a little bit different from the rest of Texas.
OK, it’s got a very progressive music scene and it’s got a more liberal political history, but ultimately it’s still got the genuineness and generosity that’ll drawl y’all in.