Monday, April 7, 2008
Rest Day in Austin.
Total Mileage: 1,655
It felt great to get some rest in Austin, which is a really cool city. The only downside to my stay here was the fact that I just happen to come on one of two weekends in which the entire city fills up with visitors. This weekend, the first of April, and the first weekend of June are big tourist weekends apparently. The city was packed and really rowdy over the weekend, a lot like a Mardi Gras sort of atmosphere.
This weekend Austin hosts the Texas relays, which is a big track and field event. I was very involved with Track and Field all my life through High School and so i would have loved to have watched some of the events, but it was too late to get tickets.
The increase in visitors also meant that it was nearly impossible to get a room anywhere, and what rooms where available, where all double in price! Got to love capitalism! I had wanted to stay at the HI Hostel in Austin instead of couch surfing because with a hostel, while you have to pay for it, you get more freedom. I was planning on hitting the town and did not want to be a bother to anyone hosting me if i came home late. Also, one of the best things about a hostel is the instant community you have when you get there. Everything is communal and group oriented so you get to meet and talk to travelers like yourself from all around the world who also want to meet new people and go out and explore where ever you may be. You have access to kitchens, washers and driers, book exchanges, internet and to other travelers who can often give you great tips on things to see and do. While the accommodations are nothing fancy, they are a step up from a tent! Honestly, given the choice, while traveling solo or with buddies, i would opt to stay in a hostel over a 5 star hotel just for the opportunity to meet new and interesting people.
Well the hostel was full when i got here so I had to scramble to find a room that didn't cost $150 a night or more. I finally found a room at a Motel 6 about 3.5 miles out of downtown for $75 a night, ouch! Normally it is only $39. Bad timing on my choice of weekend.
It was nice to have a big bed to myself, but I felt let down as staying in a hotel room by myself is no fun. If it weren't for the shower, shave and hair cut i gave myself, it would not have been worth the money. Lesson learned: ALWAYS book in advance, even if you think you wont need to. Here is a before and after of two weeks with no shower and after a good clean up!
I went out that night anyway, walking the 3.5 miles into downtown to check out Austin's night life an all i can say is wow. I have never experienced anything like that before in my life.
From what I understand, downtown Austin is a pretty lively place all the time, with live music everywhere, and a fairly wild, college type of crowd. But this weekend was out of control. I felt like I had stepped into a Master P video from Yo MTV raps! There was an endless procession of the craziest cars I have ever seen rolling into downtown Austin. It was nuts, there were these $500 dollar cars, with $2000 rims and $3000 stereos that were so loud i could feel the bass notes in my chest as they drove by. People were sitting on the roofs of moving cars, out the windows, yelling at each other and singing, dancing in the streets. There were literally, hundreds of motorcycles lined up all down the streets, more than i could have counted. It was like a rough rider convention joined up with low rider magazine!
George Clinton was there singing and every bar was packed to capacity. I didn't stay long, only for one beer, but that was an experience I will never forget. I have been to a lot of different, and wild parties before, but that one was totally unique to me. I am kicking myself for forgetting my camera! Pictures from that night would have been solid gold! Oh well.
Sunday was much more laid back and I rode my bike around town and saw the city. It really is a pretty city, with a large river running though it, and some great stone architecture right next to very modern steel and glass high rises. I checked into the Hostel and slept here last night. The HI hostel in Austin is great, its everything you could want from a Hostel and it is located right on the river with a beautiful view of downtown. I chilled out, ate a lot and read today on the dock by the river. It was a nice, lazy day. I like Austin a lot.
Well, I am hitting the road again today, just a half day to a state park about 40 miles away, and then on to Houston and the Gulf Coast.