Austin lives up to its rep. So far today we’ve explored the River Walk area, where the joggers and dog walkers roam, and checked out the downtown area and Texas Statehouse grounds. The weather is cooperating, too — warm but not too warm, with a little cloud cover and a decent breeze.
The Austin River Walk, which runs along the Colorado River and Lady Bird Lake, isn’t quite as elaborate as the San Antonio RiverWalk, but it’s a pretty area that obviously is well used by every Austinite who wants to get a little exercise. It’s part of an extensive park system that includes a cool map of Texas and lots of room for dogs, kite-flying, and general lounging.
The Texas Statehouse grounds, as the top of the hill on Congress Street, are also interesting and attractive. In addition to the impressive dome and the expected memorial to the heroes of the Alamo, shown below, I also caught an impromptu performance of a big, and impeccably attired, mariachi band, shown above. When I walk by the Ohio Statehouse on my way to and from work every day I don’t often hear traditional mariachi music.
Everybody knows Austin has a thriving bar and live music scene. Last night we started our pub crawl in the very cool Rainey Street area, which I’d never visited before, stopped to have a beer at the Container Bar, which is largely constructed out of those enormous corrugated containers used by the shipping industry, then legged it up past Stubb’s to a bar called Cheer Up Charlie’s, where a kind of light show projected against a white bluff entertained us. After noshing at Stubb’s we headed over to Sixth Street, the traditional strip of bars and live music venues that keeps getting bigger — and louder.
Around Austin you see people with t-shirts that say “Keep Austin Weird,” or something like that. After our foray through Sixth Street, I’d say that goal is being accomplished. You see people wearing flags as capes, masks, wigs, glitter, and just about any combination of clothing, or lack of clothing, you can conceive. On Sixth Street, you can still freely let your freak flag fly.
We’re down in Austin to visit with family and see a performance by the Austin Symphony. And if I’m in Austin, for any reason at all, I’ve got to stop by Stubb’s to have a little world class barbecue, liberally doused with Stubb’s equally world class sauce, and listen to some live music.
Last night we stopped by Stubb’s in the midst of a rambling pub crawl — which is a pretty good time to visit the establishment, incidentally — and I got the small combo plate with sausage, brisket, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. It was excellent, of course, with just the right amount of smoky bark on the brisket and the creamiest mac ‘n cheese you can get anywhere. It all went perfectly with a local brew. Then, it was on to Sixth Street.