Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I walked around Austin, TX yesterday for 4 hours straight as soon as I arrived. There were quite a few things about the culture here that I picked up on. Some were expected, but some came as a surprise.
- Music everywhere—no surprise here. Austin is often called The Live Music Capitol of the World. Before I even left the airport, I saw stages and microphones and people playing music, and there were these cool, colorful statues of guitars near the baggage claim. No matter where you are in this city, you will hear music playing.
- It smells really nice—this one was unexpected. This city just has the most pleasant smell. Kind of smells like flowers here, pretty much everywhere, and it’s lovely.
- East Side may or may not be dangerous—As I was doing my research before embarking on this trip, I heard that the East Side of town is the dangerous part, the bad area. Yet, that’s where the Airbnb I got is located. It clearly is not a fancy or wealthy neighborhood, but honestly it looks rather decent. The bad neighborhoods in Baltimore look much scarier than this. And my Uber driver, Winston, gave me this cryptic message: “People around here will leave you alone. But if you go looking for trouble, you’re going to get it.”
- Everyone smokes—I wasn’t expecting this because Austin is one of those rare cities where it is illegal to smoke. I heard about Austin going smoke-free a long time ago, and was kind of impressed by that. But tons of people smoke and it’s not enforced, so I don’t really know what the point of the law is.
- I have never seen cheaper gas—In Pennsylvania, gas is about $2.25. When I was in Maryland, I was so impressed to see that gas cost $1.85. Here, it is $1.64. Whoa, man!
- This is where people who support Bernie Sanders live—I saw a lot of political signs in peoples’ yards. And every single one of those signs was in support of Bernie Sanders. Although, I did see a bumper sticker for some Libertarian thing. I guess this is where the 1 Libertarian lives too. Honestly, it was cool to actually be in a place that’s not super-conservative for a change.
- Hipsters everywhere—everyone dresses so trendy, and every man has a nice beard. Age has little relevance, as even the older folks around town look identical to the people my age in all ways but the color of their hair.
- Doesn’t feel big—for there being over 900,000 people living here, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Downtown was not crowded at all. I was surprised to get a “small town feel” in a place like this.
- What’s weird about it? – Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” but there wasn’t anything weird about it. There is definitely culture here, but nothing unusual or strange or crazy. I used to live in Santa Monica, and that place was really weird, but Austin is rather tame. Maybe it’s because this is a pleasant, civilized place in Texas, which is unquestionably one of the crazier states. 😉
By the way, did I mention these are my observations from the first 4 hours I spent just walking around? All of it is probably really inaccurate, and my views are almost undoubtedly going to change, dramatically, as I spend more time here.
Tomorrow you can expect me to write some stories about the experiences I am having.