My first clue that Austin, Texas was a different kind of place was arriving at the airport and seeing a colorful accumulation of guitars decorating the baggage claim area. Creative and lively, they mixed with a motley assortment of Christmas decor. Seemed to be just “plunked there.”
On the edge of the Hill Country, Austin prides itself on being quirky and a little crazy. And it is. Filled with “Austinacious” folks, it clings to eccentricity, religiously believing in the unofficial motto: Keep Austin Weird.
The friends who invited us to visit their adopted city took us immediately to Guero’s, an eclectic eatery on South Congress, where it appeared that all of Austin convenes to drink beer and to enjoy true Mexican food and see and be seen. Word is that Laura Bush likes to come here when she is in town.
I can see why. The food is good…..make that great……and you can wear whatever you please as long as you include a heavy dose of bling.
If you happened to have forgotten your boots, you can visit a massive emporium of all things cowboy–boots, hats, belts, shirts, you name it, just down the block. I can’t imagine wearing this stuff back in Michigan but it all looked so good and fun, I was tempted to scoop up a shopping bag full. Reason prevailed.
The area called SoCo for South Congress is chockoblock full of other shopping opportunities. We meandered in and out having a wonderful time. The stores in this newly gentrified area seem to have their own spirit…….heavy on large globs of colorful paint and whimsy. Deliberately weird. Each store trying to outdo the one next door on the weirdness scale mostly with a flea market aesthetic.
We were tempted…..and who wouldn’t be? Have you ever bought a cupcake at an Air Stream? These shiny blasts from the past are all over town, reinvented as food carts. Made me smile.
And so did this! Texas French Bread? What do you suppose that is? I’m sure some of our snobby friends in Paris would shake their heads at this one.
All in all, I loved Austin. Toured a bit around the campus, oogled the 6th Street music venues, drove over the bridge that in the warmer season houses thousands of bats. I learned that one of the “must do” things in Austin is to take a sunset cruise (enjoying a sundowner, I’m sure) when the more than a million Mexican bats take off for their night time haunts to scavenge for insects. Can’t quite visualize this so I gotta go back.
Tracking the bats is such a popular activity that there’s a bat hot line at 512-416-5700, ext. 3636.
What did I like about Austin? It’s spirit. The people we met. The creativity. The green space. I can see why the folks who live there want to “keep it weird.”