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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Middlerun Does America, Days 18-22

I've gotten a bit behind on blogging so I can't remember everything else that happened in Austin. Here are the highlights:

Went out on 6th Street a lot. 6th Street has tons of good live music and is generally pretty awesome, though it gets pretty frat-boyish at certain times of the week.

Visited the Texas Capitol building. Its main claim to fame is being taller than the US Capitol. It's pretty cool because you can walk right into the House of Representatives and the Senate, though the Senate closed before I got there because it was late in the day. There's a number of monuments on the grounds, including a replica of the Statue of Liberty and a Civil War monument with a plaque talking about how the North are a bunch of jerks.

Found a place called Pete's Duelling Piano Bar, which is probably the greatest bar in the world. It was just like that Daffy Duck/Donald Duck duelling piano scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Two guys at grand pianos, each representing a different state, bantered with each other while playing. People would tip them, and whoever had the most tips at any given moment would sing funny stuff. It's incredibly fun to watch.

Went to the Alamo Drafthouse theatre. It's pretty cool because you can order food and drinks during the movie. I saw Drive, which is a pretty excellent movie.

Met heaps of cool people at the hostel. The hostel in Austin had the highest concentration of Australians I've seen at any hostel yet. I also met some awesome and funny Americans there. There was a duck who liked to hang around us when we were sitting outside, who the group decided was called Sam. Sam would drink beer spilled on the ground or left in a bowl.

Went to Barton Springs with some people from the hostel. Barton Springs is a cool place, there's a pool which is fed by a spring which keeps the water at 20-22 °C year round. I didn't get to swim there though, they kept closing the pool because of a thunderstorm off in the distance.

I found an Embassy Suites hotel which I assumed must be the one where Tucker Max allegedly, um, made a mess in the lobby. Though I later noticed there's more than one Embassy Suites in Austin.

Went to SoCo (South Congress Ave.), a trendy but quieter area of Austin. There's an area on Congress Avenue about a block long where food trailers congregate, offering all sorts of weird cuisine. I got some kind of spicy chicken thing served in a cone. I went to watch some band playing in an outdoor area, who did a pretty good cover of Baby Got Back. Then I went to the Continental Club, a live music venue of some note.

On my last night in Austin I went to watch the bats. The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to 1.5 million bats, where the inch-wide expansion joints inadvertently created the perfect home for them. Every night around sunset they all fly out to find food. Austin residents love them because they keep the mosquito population down, and lots of people gather by the bridge to watch them emerge. When I went, there was a few hundred people. Enough people that there was a guy selling cheap light-up toys for kids to play with.

Austin was a nice place to be. My only disappointment was that I didn't hear a lot of Texas accents. According to a guy I was talking to at the SoCo food trailers, you don't really get proper Texas accents in Austin because so many people come to Austin from elsewhere, and I can see why they would. The main downside, though, is that it's really hot. Close to 40 °C most days when I was there, and it gets even hotter in Summer. Overall I give Austin a rating of four out of five squirrels.

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