In the spirit of cooperation, I figured up a couple of quick, handy tips for folks who are visiting Austin, perhaps for a first time, just some helpful hints for the intrepid and adventuresome.
I’ll also make a couple of assumptions, like, you have at least one mobile phone, and that you are equipped with at least one device that uses WiFi. Otherwise, why are you here? What? Analog music, like I’m so sure. That’ll just never fly. As previously noted, some of the places in town do have a two-phone minimum.
Another point is coffee etiquette. Go to Starbucks. Just as an example, there’s a Bucky’s in the Capital Complex, another at 10th (& Congress), another at 6th (& Congress), another at the hotel at what used to be 1st (& Congress), plus, if you want to live on the wild side, there’s one South of the River, down Congress. Always, even if you just buy a cup of stinking coffee, never tip the person behind the counter. Just trust me on this, okay? As long as you’ve got on a badge and/or talk with a funny accent? No need to tip well – or tip at all – serving you is our pleasure.
Starbucks has branded WiFi. Use it. It’s only like, about $4 per hour, and I think it’s cheaper than the milk drinks they fix, so make sure you’ve got a credit card handy. The advantage is you know that no Austin thief will break into the Starbucks WiFi. You’re safe. Always practice safe internet. Wear condoms, too.
Places to eat? Eschew what the local people, like myself, do. Head for a safe place, like a chain. The local places might have dubious health practices, and some of our spicy food will certainly upset your delicate constitution. Our food is not like you’re used to. It’s too hot, too rich, too vegan or too meaty. At one place, the goal is to fit as many farm animals on the plate as possible. Vegans, despair not, even the major chains are used to the local populace and can be accommodating for your protein-starved diet.
In all places, and I can’t stress this enough, stay well-clear of the hot sauce. Burns going in, burns coming out, either way. If it looks like it might have peppers in it? Don’t touch it, “It burns, it burns!”
We can be pretty nice folks, but if we don’t have a badge or wristband? Don’t count on accuracy. Cab fare from the airport to downtown? Should run about 40 or 50 bucks. You’ll get a nice tour of trailer parks, a honky-tonk and maybe a catfish parlor. Goes with the countryside. Don’t even think of venturing into such places, especially not alone and unarmed, you might not like the results.
Trinkets, ornaments, and tattoos:
Want to really blend in? Buy a cowboy hat. There are a veritable plethora places that sell the stressed straw cowboy hat. Get one of those, and ladies? Fashion tip: pink is better. Pink is the new black with straw cowboy hats. You can bet you’ll look just like one of us with those things on. Check the label, too, make sure you’re not getting taken advantage of, make sure that it was made in China or Taiwan. If the hat was handmade in Texas? You probably paid too much. And if it has a label that says, “Hecho a mano en Mexico”? Again, you’re just supporting some third world economy built on dubious labor practices.
Finally, a really good tattoo place is usually located right in the heart of the entertainment district. Get something like Texas flag, or the Seal of Texas, or better yet, a seal of Texas with a Texas flag backdrop, surrounded by the outline of the state. A permanent reminder of how much fun you’re having, while standing in line to get into a venue to hear some band from your home state. Or country. Whatever.
There is only one source for reliable information. Okay, there are two sources, the only two place to get up-to-date information, the Austin-American Statesman & the Austin Chronicle. No other media outlets are reliable. No other media outlets can be trusted for true facts, in the interest of fair, balanced and reasoned judgement calls. Most important? Don’t trust indy media. These guys know nothing. And bloggers? Especially the local ones? Since they lack training, well, it goes without saying, be suspect of the information.
Beer & Liquor:
Stuck to what’s safe. Jose Cuervo, and something like Bud. Or Miller Light? The local brews, say, Shiner Bock? We’re pretty sure it’s not to your liking. Best if you just leave it alone. So stick to something safe, a label that you can trust, and it’s probably better if you drink it out of a can.
Like an oasis in the middle of a swanky, yet funky urban environment, there’s always Barton Springs. As a chance to cool off, chill out, and hang with the locals, it’s a great place in the summer months. But this is still the spring, and it’s still cool at night; therefore, avoid Barton Springs and its near freezing waters.
So the hot tip here is to take a dip in the lake itself. River, actually, as it is the Colorado River. Yes, that’s the name. For those of you not too good with geography, that’s the name of the river that cut the Grand Canyon, too. Same river?
Some of the hotels have pools, but a carefully observant out-of-town visitor will note that the water supply for Austin is the Colorado River, so it’s both safe to drink, and it’s safe to swim in. You’re cordially invited to skip the pool-side at the hotel and “go native” in the lake.
1. Dining – stick to “safe” chains.
2. Coffee – only Starbucks.
3. Pink cowboy hat.
5. Mainstream media – only.
7. Don’t drink the water.
8. Jump in the lake.
Can I get a “hell yeah!” You’re just like one of us, now.
(click to visit)
Learn some Spanish! “Tu eres un pendejo” (2 Aries oon pen-DAY-hoe) is how to say, “You are my friend.” In Spanish. It is a warm, ethnic greeting, conveying much felicity and gentle salutations. Usually shouted at first meeting.