Friday, September 21, 2012

Austin and All Points Beyond, Part One

Downtown Austin, with the Capitol in the backdrop.
Austin, Texas. It's the most non-Texas city in all of Texas--and I've been to Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, and San Angelo. It's a bohemian bastion--rightfully earning their unofficial motto of "Keep Austin Weird". It was on a lot of the t shirts that I spotted (and nearly bought) at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. I landed there in early August for a bit of fun and work. Mostly work, but I made the weekends my own.

Spent the first weekend at a not-so-dodgy Super 8 Hotel off of 12th Street. Right at the edge of the downtown core. Not really sure you could call it a "hotel" though. But that's neither here nor there so let's move on. 
Stay thirsty, my friends.
I had dinner at Mexitas Mexican Restaurant, a halfway decent joint for a beer and an affordable dinner--and curiously in the same plaza as a bingo hall, which I thought was brilliant and funny. I had enchiladas and a Dos Equis. Good combo.

Sixth Street is not quite ready for me, or is it the other way around?
But enough of dinner, it was time for a trip to 6th Street--cornucopia of drinking, dancing and debauchery--along with being a center of culture, music, and everything in between. Being a Friday night, I sauntered over to my usual haunt, Barbarella, sister nightclub of Independent Bar in Orlando and Barbarella Tampa in Tampa's Ybor City District. Unfortunately overslept due to exhaustion from hanging out the night before (I'm not a fan of being awake, alert, or sober on flights--and I'm not a fan of flying in general), so I didn't get out till a bit after midnight. I did run into one of my old friends--Holly--now the general manager over there, and had a few drinks before the dreaded 2am closing time rolled around.

Saturday morning came along and it was time to hit up  on South Congress Ave--or SoCo for short--full of antiquing, an eclectically savory assortment of food trailers, art, and great shopping in general. I wish I had taken photos, but it was tough walking around in 100 degree heat with not a cloud in the sky. Austin's summer has a different kind of heat. Half oven heat, half humid. Something like that. Hot is hot. That's all that matters. So instead of photos, lots of links coming.

On to the shopping. I browsed through Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, Service Menswear (where I picked a wicked pair of Chuck Taylor Double Zip High-Tops by John Varvatos), Tesoros Trading Company (and picked up some stuff for my mum), Allens Boots (just to check out the cowboy boots, not actually buy any), New Bohemia (an awesome retro store where I picked up the world's ugliest shirt--you'll see it later in this post), Uncommon Objects (where I found a sextant that folded into a case, but was too pricey), and Yard Dog Folk Art. I also stopped over at Stag (where I got my brother a pretty spiffy wallet), and had a quick bite to eat at the SoCo Trailer Eateries (too hot to have anything hot, so I went with shaved ice).

After that I headed back north on Congress to downtown. Next stop? tenOak Bourbon House & Lounge for a late lunch. I ordered the typical Jack & Coke and had this for a meal: 
I cannot express to all of you the joy of eating  all of this.
tenOak Steak! 6 oz of steak happiness with chimichurri sauce and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Had mine cooked medium rare. Heaven in my mouth. Seriously. It was excellent. But either way, this lunch was on point.

I was full and happy, and headed to Wild About Music on 6th Street. Ended up buying a guitar pick. Never know when you'll need one. After a quick stop at Buffalo Billiards, I headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. This time, I set the alarm. Then I decided to put on the ugly shirt that I got at New Bohemia.
Maybe not ugly, but sure as sin different. I thought it worked.
First stop on 6th Street? It was time to run the gauntlet, Texas style. Lots of shots. Lots of random beers. I stopped at The 512 Bar on 6th and Shakespeare's Pub
The first volley--a proper shot! 
There was lots of Summer 2012 Olympics on pretty much every television, so that was cool. I think it was the swimming finals with Michael Phelps and the US Team dominating.

I wandered about some more, but ended up at old reliable, Barbarella. I had a blast there. Had some random English girl buy me a shot, ended up dancing a lot. I also got a tarot card reading. 
Got a reading at Barbarella's courtyard. I have no idea what this meant, but his reading was actually on point. I tipped him well.
And somehow I got back to the hotel in one piece after the pedicab ride. One epic Saturday night. Totally epic. Sleepy time. Or actually, passing out time. Story of my life.

Unfortunately, I had to meet up with some coworkers the next day for the work part of the trip. Can't win 'em all. But next weekend gets better.

Next: The second weekend is even more awesome. I convince my coworkers to take the plunge into Austin for a crazy night involving spandex tights, big hair, Irish pubs, something about walking around a whole lot, and everyone kind of getting lost--but really not. Blame it on the shots. It's always about the shots. Allons-y!

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