Austin, Texas: It’s Not That Weird

The city’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” But I didn’t find it that weird. I had a very pleasant time exploring the city while Steve was presenting at a conference.  I’ll tell you about some fun things to do in Austin, and the one thing I did think was weird (but you have to read until the end to find out).

Exploring South Congress Avenue

South Congress Avenue is a vibrant and hip street featuring vintage stores, bohemian fashion, art shops and restaurants. Austin clearly embraces its Creatives, and the city buzzes with their energy.  Here, you’ll find street musicians, artists, jewellery designers and fun dining. Check out Torchy’s Tacos for a great green chile pork taco, or the Lucky Robot for sushi.

Bohemian and Goth Fashion on South Congress
Unique shopping on South Congress
Cupcakes and Tacos–why not?
Green Chile Pork taco at Torchy’s

The Bats of Congress Avenue Bridge

I like bats. I think they’re cool. Which is interesting, because I really don’t like birds at all. You would think I’d have the same reaction to both kinds of flying creatures. But bats have a mysterious elegance and eerie gracefulness that is absent in, say, your average seagull. So when I found out that Austin is home to 750,000 or so bats living under the Anne W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, I was excited to see their nightly exodus, a big tourist event here. People line up along the bridge to see the bats fly out, but you can also see the spectacle from below, as we did, on a “Bat-Watching Cruise” on Lady Bird Lake. On the evening we went, the bats were a bit shy and came out rather more in a trickle than a flood. But it was still very cool. This is the company that ran the tour.

Obligatory selfie
Bat-watching from atop the bridge
Boat captain shines subdued spotlights to help us see where the bats are

Lake Travis

A beautiful spot to take in a sunset. We were lucky enough to go to an event at The Oasis on Lake Travis and had an excellent time there.

Sunset on Lake Travis
A beautiful evening on Lake Travis

The One Weird Thing:

I did promise to tell you what I thought was weird. And it’s not even the fact that you can buy a raspberry-jam-filled doughnut in the shape of a voodoo doll and stab it with a pretzel:


No, the one thing I thought was weird was this:

“Open-carry prohibited” sign in restaurant

People have to be reminded that they can’t walk into a restaurant carrying a gun out in the open? Wait, what? People are actually allowed to carry guns openly?  

How many people walk past signs like that without a second thought?  But for this tourist  it was so far outside my own experience,  that I had to take a picture of it.

In light of Orlando, I decided to post this photo. Maybe it will make someone think about gun control in a different way and let someone see the issue through fresh eyes.  Orlando is already dropping off the news cycle, being replaced by headlines of the next gun-related murder. Maybe this photo of a reality that is, for many people, commonplace, will start to be seen as dangerous, and yes, weird. Because,  America, your ‘normal’ is killing you.


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