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Published: October 23rd 2014
I would never do that
Oh Austin Texas. You naughty naughty place. Let's sum up what you made me do in the last 5 days. You made me miss a Megabus ride to San Antonio. You made me miss two Greyhound rides back to College Station. You made me drive home with some random Scottish guys I just met in a local hostel. You made me drink Tequila although it makes me sick. You made me think that Jack in the box is actually good food. You made me play beer pong and swear like a madman in front of super Christian families at a Longhorns tailgate. You made me see and hear things I shall not speak about on this blog.
What was planned to be a short friday to sunday weekend trip to the capital of the great state of Texas turned out to be a 5 day trip right out of a Hangover movie. When I arrived in the hostel I was staying i tried to keep mostly to myself as I am getting and feeling old for the usual party and drinking travel. More so, I actually felt quite annoyed by all the noisy and drunk people around me. That lasted
for about 24 hours. What happened next? Well, lets sum this up with the catchphrase of this trip, room number 1 in Drifter Jack's hostel.
Room number one is actually an all male 6 bed dorm not far from Austin's downtown area. The bathroom is shared with the room next door, which is a female dormitory. As I arrived an American guy from South Carolina was already there and shortly after an Australian guy and 3 kilt wearing Scots moved in. They asked me downstairs for having a beer. That beer turned out to be free Margaritas. The Margaritas turned out to be Tequila with ice. So we decided to go to Rainey Street, one of the bar areas in Austin. From there on things were pretty much out of hand and would stay that way.
Basically I was mostly drunk for the next days, with some occasional sightseeing during the morning hours. I managed to see the river front, the famous bat bridge, to enter the Texas capitol (which is bigger than the national one in Washington, how bout that folks?), and even take a look at the unfortunately closed Death Metal Pizza store. That's pretty much
Weird it is
all that most of the guide books suggest. As tripadvisor puts it, don't limit yourself to the attractions of Austin but also make sure you check the nightlife.
To be honest Austin reminds me a lot of Amsterdam. Contrary to what else I have seen of Texas, Austin is an extremely alternative city, not for nothing the local tourism slogan is to "keep Austin weird". And weird it is. Although my visit was mostly limited to downtown, the city outlet pretty much follows the American downtown highrise and small apartment suburb outline. Locals told me anyhow that most of the skyscrapers only popped up in the last five years or so. Surrounding downtown are small streets, the most notorious of which is 6th street which in the evening hours transforms into a pedestrian party madness of the live music capital of the world. More south the Colorado river flanks a nice green riverfront edging on the highrise of downtown. Crossing to the other side a part of the stream is actually blocked by a dam and open to swim, an activity which I happily joined on the last day in town.
So what is it that made Austin
different as there is also an All-American curfew sending everybody home at an early 2 AM? Maybe nothing really, although the city has a weird vibe to it. I do suspect that room 1 was the main reason for my trip to cloud 9 and this is the point I want to make. If you stay in hostels often the atmosphere in your accommodation reflects heavily on the way you perceive a destination. While in hotels you traditionally sleep and eat only, hostels create a whole vibe and are largely responsible for your partners in crime at the destination. Indeed, my first day in Houston and in Austin were incredibly boring and I just blamed the city. Maybe the reason was that I did not meet people yet? Was I just lucky to meet nice people at the right time and have my trip take a wholly different turn? Coming back to what I wrote some years ago, is it really about the place or is it about the people?
After years of travel I still don't know. What I know is the following. I had a 6,5 hours layover with my Greyhound bus in Waco Texas, a town
Can't argue with that
that would better fit in the Qatari countryside (with no offense to the local Waconeers 😊). Anyway, Dr Pepper is from Waco so if you are a fan of world's weirdest tasting softdrink you might as well give the city a try. I saw some plastic cows in the riverside park too if you are into that. Let's give Waco a pass. Austin, the way I have experienced it, is something out of this planet. Weird and vibrating, it made me miss the first 3 buses of my life as I remember it. Next, I will be going to New Orleans for Halloween. People told it is somehow similar to Austin. Should I be scared? It's Halloween after all...
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