Austin, Texas: The coolest city in America
OK, so I have only been to two cities in America and one of them was LA, as in LAX airport, but I am no stranger to hyperbole. In August this year, my fiancé Stevie and I won a trip to the US to meet Quentin Tarantino and attend a premiere of his latest film, Inglourious Basterds. As it turned out, we didn’t much like Tarantino but we fell head over heels in love with Texas.
Now, I would go anywhere, anytime, especially if it’s free, so winning a trip to a city I’d never even heard of sounded like the best thing ever. And it was. Austin is like the sexy love child of Tamworth and Byron Bay, with a little bit of Canberra thrown in for good measure.
Austin is home to South-by-Southwest, one of America’s biggest film, music and ‘interactive’ festivals so it’s from this creative wellspring that the town gets its indie vibe.
I will go into more detail about this down the track but just to get started, here’s what I loved about Austin:
- Tattoos – Everyone has them and displays them with pride. I was too shy to ask anyone if I could take a photo but believe me when I say even the tattoos are bigger in Texas.
- Tex Mex – Rice, beans, fajitas, enchilada, burritos; you name it, it will come on a big ass plate with a side of free corn chips and the freshest salsa you have ever tasted.
- Margaritas – Tequila is the local drink of choice, especially taken in Margarita form. And there’s no nasty pre-mix in these bars; everything is fresh.
- Mexican Influence – The arts and crafts scene is heavily influenced by their southern neighbours meaning loads of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) skeletons, turquoise and silver jewellery, hand woven and embroidered ponchos and trippy hand painted ceramics.
- Airstream Caravans – Down the southern end of Congress Avenue, you will find a group of 1950’s Airstream caravans that have been converted in food stalls selling all American favourites such as cupcakes, pizza slices and burgers.
- The people – It sounds clichéd but the people of Austin were some of the friendliest souls I have ever come across. We asked one couple for directions and they actually insisted that they drive us all the way to where we were going. Now that doesn’t happen in Sydney.
Have you ever been to Austin? What did you think?