Friday, February 19, 2016
Roadtrip part 4: Austin, Live Music Capital of the World
Food, music and sun. There are few people on this planet who don't like these things. If you are one of them, don't go to Austin. Because Austin has to offer the best of all three aspects. The word Texas might scare you off at first, but for real, Austin is one of the coolest cities I've ever been to. The city's slogan proofs it: ''Keep Austin Weird''. And remember that I wrote about Portland in my hitchhiking episodes? Well, it's no coincidence that Portland has adopted the slogan (''Keep Portland Weird'') - the two cities are often mentioned in one breath. It almost can't get any hipper than this.
The Greyhound ride from San Antonio to Austin only took about 1,5 hours, which was awesome, since Austin was one of the places I'd been looking forward to most. My Couchsurfing host Ashley - the first female one during this trip! - picked me up from the station and drove me back to her house. She shared a marvellous house with two other girls, Erin and Caroline, and their three dogs: one for everyone. The house was kinda chaotic, but I absolutely loved it: full of fluffiness, attention and laughter. Ashley and her roommates told me that this week was my lucky week - it was Free Week in Austin! Even without knowing what this was about, I was thrilled. It sounded like something I would like, me being typical Dutch when it comes to money.
Free Week was pretty much the way it sounds: all concerts and live shows at the music venues in Austin were free that weekend. And Austin has a lot! The city gave itself the nickname ''Live Music Capital of the World'' for a reason. Artists like Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson did their first shows here, and every year one of the biggest festivals in the States takes place in Austin: South by Southwest (SXSW)! Unfortunately, it happens in March, so I wasn't gonna experience it, but I'm definitely gonna be back one day to see it with my own eyes. That night, we took it pretty easy, went for drinks and checked out a band.
The next day, Ashley had to work but she brought me to the center, where I went for a bigass coffee first, to find out where to go to make my tattoo appointment! Because yes, I had been thinking about getting a tattoo the entire semester, but somehow I didn't find the inspiration in San Francisco. The last months I came up with the idea to get one during my trip, since it was gonna be such a lifechanging trip (yes, I already knew beforehand). I did it all on my own, after all, couchsurfing and living the gypsy life. After a couple days on the road, I noticed, this is the life I love most. ''To be on your own, with no direction home, like a rolling stone''. Yes, it was gonna be my favourite Dylan song, that somehow described my life motto perfectly - aside from the sad Edie Sedgwick inspired part. I also found out I wasn't ready for a symbol or drawing, it had to be words. After all, words are my way of going through life!
Anyway, I'd decided where to go to make the appointment: Golden Age Tattoos. But before this, I went to check out the State Capitol, which looks almost European. I strolled around for a bit, looked at all the Republican paintings. Bush was one of the few I knew, how sad is that... Afterwards I followed Ashley's advice and walked across the river to the cool part of the town: the East part, on South Congress. This is where I met up with my second host, who was gonna host me the next day: Tyler. He's a pretty awesome guy as well, if you wanna know more about his travelling philosophy, check out Humans on the Road once more. He showed me around at South Congress, which is extremely cool, in my opinion. So many weird stores (Uncommon Objects being the coolest), food trucks and bars.
That night, Ashley and I checked out the graffiti park at Castle Hills, which has a great view over the city. So much creativity in this city! We continued our evening with Thai food and drinks at Ashley's friends place'. Afterwards they took me out to a full Texas night: twostepping at The White Horse, drinking shots at Sixth Street - Austin's version of Bourbon Street, full of drunk teenagers and old guys, but fun to see - and I even rode the mechanical bull! In other words, a crazy, crazy night ;)
On Saturday, it was finally time for my tattoo, but not after a good hangover and goodbye breakfast with Ashley, Erin and Caroline. Breakfast tacos are a big thing in Austin, so that's what we had to try. Also queso, which is a gooey cheese dip, kinda like nachos with a thick layer of grilled cheese on top of it. De-li-ci-ous. We also had a mimosa, a combination of champagne and orange juice, which we should definitely introduce for breakfast in Amsterdam as well.
We also went to the Cathedral of Junk, which is awesome. A guy collected so much trash during his life time that he could form a cathedral of it. Weird stuff everywhere! After a walk in the park, which was extremely cold, since it was unusually freezing in Austin - 9 degrees celcius! - I went to the tattoo shop to finally get the job done. Or actually, just sit and let it happen. Just like the last two times, it only lasted for about ten minutes and didn't hurt that much. Before the tattoo artist pressed the needle down, he'd already taken it off, since the words are so thin lined. Tyler, my Couchsurfing host, picked me up from the shop and we went off to dinner, me feeling a bit dizzy still from the adrenaline and the idea that suddenly there was this visible, slightly big, tattoo on my arm. Weird!
We had more Tex Mex for dinner and the most interesting cocktail I had so far: an avocado cocktail. To be honest, it wasn't as good as I had expected, since it was pretty thick and creamy (come to think of it, this is exactly what you can expect haha) Anyway, that night we went to a David Bowie & Elvis Presley tribute party. Another one, you might think. Well, Bowie hadn't died yet, that night. This party was more of a birthday celebration for the two legends. It wasn't as Bowie&Presley inspired as we thought, since the band that was performing was playing their own songs and not that many people were dressed up.
We had a marvellous evening anyway, that started off good with the girl that let us in (how do you call these kind of people? There has to be a better word than doorbitch, right?) saying: ''Girl! I honestly thought you were Cara! I saw her last weekend, at a Kanye show, and Rihanna was there too. You belong in LA, girl!'' What I thought was: uuuh no, I belong in San Francisco and is that even a compliment, LA? What I said was: ''ahhh that's so sweet! Thank you!'' And secretly, I really was kinda flattered. That night, I heard I looked like Cara at least six times. I guess she's famous in Texas too.
On Sunday, Tyler and I took it easy, he had to work a bit, I strolled around in the center, ran into a hobo version of Clint Eastwood who looked so angry that I didn't dare to tell him he looked like Dirty Harry. After Tyler's yoga class, we went for Asian food and met up with his friend Reynaldo, who advised us to go see a show at some underground spot. It turned out to be an awesome show, but I was glad to be back in bed that night, as I was super tired. The next morning I woke up quite shocked: David Bowie was dead.
I have no idea how they dealt with the news in Amsterdam, but I have a feeling that in world cities, these messages have a huge impact. Everywhere in Austin, I saw Bowie stuff in sale, signs with his quotes on it, etc. I just remembered him that day a bit more by listening to songs like ''Space Oddity'' and ''Life on Mars''. What else I did that day? I ate a slice of Homeslice pizza (verrrry good) and read a book in the park. It was my last day in Austin, but I was ready to go to New Orléans. Everyone had told me SO MANY good things about this city, and now I was finally gonna see it with my own eyes.