Day 281

This weekend, I discovered UT tailgating and it was pretty unreal. As someone who lived off-campus during his college career, this is something completely new to me. But, wow did I have an absolute blast. I’m not sure if every school has a pre-game event of similar scale, but I couldn’t help but stand in awe of how many blocks it spanned. There were even sponsored tents from the likes of Monster Energy, Southern Comfort and Bud Lite. If you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it. I mean... free booze, beads and BBQ? Count me in for next weekend’s festivities.

Anyway, a week in and I’m already getting the sense that things operate a lot differently down here in Austin. While I still have a ways to go in figuring out why, I have come to notice a few things that make this place one of a kind. First off, the city itself contains different elements that remind me of many of the other stops I’ve already hit. The atmosphere is a lot like Memphis; the architecture, a little New Orleans; the nighttime weather feels like Charlotte; and the bar-lined 6th Street harkens back to the likes of Bourbon and Beale Street.

It’s more than that though. Even the more casual things I’ve become used to are different down here. Take food trucks for instance. Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to checking Twitter for my favorite mobile eateries’ daily locations. However, here in Austin, the food trucks have taken up permanent residence in the abandoned corners and parking lots of the area. They never relocate and instead they build up their spaces with tents, lights, benches and a slew of decorations in an attempt to grab attention. And these truck-sized restaurants aren’t regulated to certain parts of the city either. You can find them almost anywhere, usually filled with small crowds or long lines depending on the time of day. 

Aside from the aesthetics, the people here seem to operate on a much differently wave length as well. While they maintain the charm and hospitality you’d expect in the south, they also have a more carefree air about them. Things move a bit slower. People breathe a little easier. Everyone seemingly wants to have a good time and they don’t let labels get in the way of that. Where in other cities, you’d know certain places as ‘the college bar’ or the ‘local joint,’ establishments here seem to welcome people from all walks of life. Yet, in the end, every place still maintains this ‘rough around the edges’ sort of feel, regardless of their patrons. Really, the only two categories they seem to have are ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

With four weeks to go, I’m really excited to uncover even more ways Austin is different. Although, I will say, I was absolutely right about the weather. I’m not a fan of the heat and as expected, I’ve already developed a love/hate relationship with this city as a result. 

-Steve-