Austin

The end of my flight-pass had come, it was a sad day indeed.  I didn’t feel I had done it justice, but I hadn’t really enough remaining cash to make use of it properly.  I’d hit South America though and seen some more of the U.S., so on the whole it was still a worthwhile purchase.  One weekend was left, one last destination to fit in, where should it be?  Cancun, the Carribean, Vegas, Colorado, New Orleans?  I could have done any of them, in the end I chose Austin, Texas.

After sending out a few couch-surf requests and hearing nothing back, I thought I’d just wing it and see what accommodation I could find when I got there.  I landed and caught the hourly bus from the airport to the city, checking out what hostels were in the city on my way there.  Alas there weren’t many to choose from, Hi-Hostel seemed liked the best option, which didn’t look particularly appealing due to their standard “no-drinking” policy.  One other option came up however, the Bee-hive hostel, I gave them a ring, got a  voice-message and promptly hung-up, I figured if the front-desk wasn’t manned at  this time of day, place was probably was a bit dodgy.
Much to my surprise, I got a call back in 5 minutes from the hostel, informing me I could stay at another hostel, the Rusty Railway Hostel instead, which was just south of downtown.  “Would you like me to pick you up on my scooter?” I was asked.  Why not I thought, what have I got to lose?  An hour or so later, I met one of the most interesting individuals I’ve yet encountered on my travels, a man known as the Scooter Rocket, riding indeed on a Scooter.

To understand who Scooter Rocket is, simply watch the following youtube clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF6-JGQW8lk).  Scooter now runs the Rusty Railway Hostel in Austin (http://www.facebook.com/rustyrailway), whose location is not advertised so Scooter can try to filter out any dickheads who want to stay.  Scooter runs an awesome place, a personalised hostel experience, very affordable with a super chill vibe and even some great cooking on occasion, nothing quite beats some pumpkin pie to cure the previous night’s hangover.  Once checked in I immediately headed back out to check out the night-life of Austin with a partner in crime from the hostel.

As we bar-hopped our way back into the city, numerous food-carts with delicious menus were sampled on the way, until we ended up along the deadly 6th Street, an expansive strip through Austin’s downtown lined with bars, restaurants and night-clubs.  I had already visitted Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill for lunch that day (the name of the venue says it all really, they have waitresses, who wear bikinis) and the night that followed had it all.  Starting with some shots in an upmarket cocktail bar, we headed East towards the more “seedy” end of 6th Street, stopping in at the Chuggin’ Monkey while we listened to some live blues music.  We checked out several more venues, with nice outdoor beer gardens, one we couldn’t get into, which we later found out was due to Green Day playing a secret show there that night.

Thoroughly exhausted the next day, I joined Scooter on a bike ride to check out something called the Cathedral of Trash.  Walking into the backyard of a normal looking house in a suburban area south of Austin’s CBD, a structure a couple stories high came into view.  At its base is a large sign “Welcome to Trash Vegas” and it doesn’t take long to realise that the tower rising up out of the ground is composed entirely of trash – bicycles, old computer parts, bowling balls, sports equipment, sewing machines, furniture, anything that could possibly be considered junk had been used to create a mammoth sculpture.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it before and would highly reccommend a visit to anyone stopping by Austin.

The following night was jam pack once again starting off with some real Texas BBQ for dinner (music provided by a trio of singing golden oldies), some live music at a cafe (4 singer/song-writer guitarists) and then once again to 6th Street for even more live music at a Beach Club themed bar.  I can certainly see why Austin has a reputation as the live music capital of the world, just about any bar or restaurant I stepped into had some sort of live entertainment!  Scooter also proved that a bad dancer he most definitely is not as he tore up the dance-floor with the ladies (and in a pretty sober state I might also add) before then joining them by dancing on the bar itself.  Knowing there was no point going up against a pro like him, I instead discovered the availability of a scorpion tequila shot, which as one would guess is a shot of tequila containing a whole scorpion!  Best of all, it came with a free corny shirt advertising the fact that one had consumed and survived said scorpion tequila shot.  Like a lot of cities in the U.S.A., I barely scratched the surface of Austin and know its somewhere I definitely want to head back to again!  With good weather, a great music scene, excellent night-life and fantastic food, Austin definitely ranks in my top 5 cities in the U.S.A.

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