I spent this past week down in Austin, Texas for a work conference. It was my first visit to the area and while the majority of my time was spent inside a hotel attending conference related events, there were a few things that I was able to enjoy in Austin, that would not have been possible if I had been back home in Maine.
Seven things I would not have been able to do in Maine:
1) Eat Outside. I enjoyed an al fresco lunch soaking in the sunshine. I was in Austin in early March, when things are still relatively chilly in Maine.While eating outside is something that I love to do during the summers in Maine, even with the unseasonably warm winter we’ve had this year, dining outside is not really an option in March. But, it did get me excited for the warmer weather heading our way.
2) Visit ACL. I saw a show by the NightOwls at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. The show was actually part of the opening reception of the conference, and was a great opportunity to spend time at this well know Austin destination. Certainly, there are many fantastic places to see a show in Maine as well, but ACL Live is unique to Austin.
3) Shop in an Airstream Trailer. While we do have mobile businesses in Maine, I ran across a mobile boot store which was a first for me. Rickshaw Boots is billed as a unique boot buying experience. They sell boots out of their vintage Airstream trailers. While I didn’t have enough time to shop with them on this trip, it was definitely intriguing. Who doesn’t need a good pair of cowboy boots?
4) Take in the Sites on 6th Street. Time was pretty limited, but we did head over to 6th Street for a stroll. It was fun to check out all the unique bars, shops, and other businesses in this area. Austin truly is a musical destination. Just about every bar we walked by had live music blaring. While Portland has some unique, wonderful areas too, I’m not sure there would be quite as much live music happening.
5) Enjoy a Texas Independence Day Parade. Certainly, I’ve gone to my fair share of parades up in Maine, but I think this was my first one celebrating Texas Independence. The parade wasn’t long but there was a lot of Texas pride showing.
6 ) View Guitar Art. I enjoyed stumbling across a few of the Gibson Guitartown Austin Art Guitars while walking along Congress Avenue waiting for the parade to start. It was fun to see a random art guitar piece hanging out on the sidewalk. I had no idea what they represented and had to do a google search when I got home. Apparently I missed one too, as the Austin Photo Book indicates that there are three on Congress Ave.
7) Add Jalapeno Sauce to my Hamburger. I had endless opportunities to try jalapeno sauce in Austin as it was available every place that I went. While I actually just had my first taste of jalapeno ketchup at Timber Steakhouse & Rotisserie, ketchup is still more the mainstay up in Maine but it was not readily available in Austin. Jalapeno sauce definitely was so I used that instead on my burger and enjoyed the added kick.
One of the things I wanted to see, which definitely would have been unique to Austin, were the bats emerging from under the Congress Avenue Bridge but it was little early in the season. One of the other people at the conference did head over to the bridge and said she was able to see a few bats at dusk, just not the large groupings that you see in the summer. It would be so cool to see such a massive number of bats all in one place.
In the end, I think there are probably more similarities between Austin, Texas and Portland, Maine than there are differences, but every destinations still has those special things that makes them unique and Austin certainly has a strong identity. Since this was a working visit, I didn’t really get to truly experience all that Austin offers, but I definitely enjoyed the little bit I did see and hope to come back again some day for a social visit.