What’s It Really Like…in Texas

What's It Really Like...in Texas.POST
We’re heading to Austin, Texas to attend a gay wedding in a few weeks.  As soon as we heard, we were booking flights. It’s a HUGE deal.  Especially in Texas.
Why? Because one of the most fiercely conservative states in the bible belt has finally relented.  Rich’s Aunts can legally get married after 20 years of togetherness. That is, before the idiots in power change their minds.
Returning for this visit got me thinking about Texas in general since I lived there for much of my adult life.
Since I retained my Aussie accent (Thank God!) I had plenty of people in Texas ask me what life is like in Australia.  They always felt compelled to inform me of their burning ambition to visit some day.  I told them they should. So many times in fact that I think I should send a hefty bill to the Australian Tourism Board for the number of visitors I sent over here.
Naturally, Australians have also wondered about my life in Texas.
Since we’ll be in Austin for a couple of days next week, I thought it would be a good to share some of the questions I’ve gotten over the years:
Marble Falls Bluebonnets
What’s It Really Like in Texas?
My first response to this questions is ‘it depends on where in Texas you’re asking about.’  Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio are all completely different from each other.
Dallas is all concrete, big hair and cowboy boots. It has J.R., the Dallas Cowboys and big, fancy shopping centres.  Dallas is to be avoided as Fort Worth is a MUCH better place to visit.  If you want a glimpse at old-time Texas, visit Forth Worth.
Houston is humid year round, has miles and miles of strip malls and horrific traffic.  It has the Gulf Coast nearby if you want brown water and brown sand to call ‘a day at the beach’. It does have N.A.S.A. which is still pretty awesome but I don’t think they do the tours they once did…  It’s all now in Florida.
San Antonio has a great Mexican culture, with lots of Texas history the city proudly displays. The Riverwalk is a great place to go with rockin’ margaritas. Sadly, there’s also lots of concrete to get to downtown and it’s just not that pretty.
Austin is unique.  It’s laid back.  It’s cool. It’s hip (or hippy, depending on where you go). It’s green. It boasts a lot of trails for hike and biking –  around the city – and like the rest of Texas, lots of concrete too. Austin has 6th street, which is great music for the college crowd, or 4th Street and SoCo if you’re out of college but still want a bit of the downtown vibe.
I know all of these places but the only place I’d recommend visiting is Austin with a day-trip to San Antonio thrown in.
Do Texans really have guns?
Yes, guns are everywhere.  Rifle racks hang from the back window of pick-up trucks (utes), ready for the next hunting season.
I know a woman who sleeps with a gun under her pillow.  Yes, really.
It’s crazy, but the holster industry is ready to explode as people can now legally carry a weapon.   There are places you can’t carry a gun, of course, such as schools etc. You see signs on doors everywhere advising whether it’s a gun-free establishment.
For the most part, people have grown up with guns but the laws have got to change.  It’s not just the crazies you have to watch out for.
Have I met (or seen) George (W) Bush?
Yeah, this is a weird one.  I’ve actually been asked this a few times. Mostly when he was president.
You know the situation when you meet an acquaintance who went to the same school and they inevitably ask if you know so and so, and the school is the size of a small city?  I guess it’s like that. The perception is that everyone in Texas knows an oil tycoon and the Bush’s are the most famous.
(The answer is no, by the way.)
Is everything really bigger in Texas?
Yes.  Vehicles are huge: Pick-Up trucks and SUV’s the size of a small studio apartments, which, by the way speed up and down highways and freeways that are 8 lanes or more. Houses are bigger and cheaper than in many parts of the world.
Food portion sizes are bigger and can last 2-3 meals, shared between 2 people. In some areas of Texas, hair is even bigger (I’m talking about you, Dallas).
What’s up with ‘Keep Austin Weird’?
Austin is a highly creative place.
Many of the people I used to work with (in a corporate environment) played in a band.  There is a reason Austin is known as the ‘Live Music Capitol’ of the world.  SXSW, Austin City Limits, Willie freakin’ Nelson and many other festivals take place throughout the year.
‘Austinites’ also love their “Mom & Pop” shops.  They’ll avoid all things ‘chain’ and support wholeheartedly the places that were born and bred in Austin.  It’s almost a cult-like mentality, but it’s very cool because really, don’t the chain restaurants make enough money?!
People come from all over to live in Austin.  It’s really laid back.  Once I asked what the dress code was for a really nice restaurant I was going to.  I got a Texas Guffaw then a ‘This is Austin. You can wear anything you damn-well like!”
Congress Bridge
I recently received a link via Facebook aptly named Things Your Should Never Say to Someone From Austin.  It made me laugh because so much of it is true, but it also made me sad, because it made me homesick for all the good things Austin has to offer.

Heading to Texas and want some information?  Or heard something about Texas and wondered if it were true?

Email us at Tara(at)Travelfarenough(dot)com and we’ll see if we have an answer!
If we can’t, we know a few people who probably can…

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  1. December 14, 2016 / 10:29 am

    Hi Lietuva,

    Oh I agree. Galveston is a great place to visit and we did, many times. But I do think you’re right in that you have to take a tour to really get a feel of the history there. Having grown up in Australia, I admit I have looked at Texas beaches and think ‘is that it? The water is brown, the sand is brown… ewww’ but for many, it’s the only type of beach they know and really, it’s just a different beach experience in the world. In fact, one of my favourite memories of living in Texas was a week on South Padre, where we spent an afternoon kicking a ball around on the sand. The hard packed sand and low waves have it’s advantages!

    Yes, Houston offers a variety of museums, which I also admit, I haven’t explored personally but have many friends who have and have loved them. There is more to Houston than what I wrote.

    But I’ll be honest and say Houston has left a bad taste in my mouth for a number of reasons: The weather, the amount of concrete, the traffic… I have a long list of why.

    Thank you for sharing your insights. I appreciate your comments greatly. I will try and be kinder in my reviews moving forward.


  2. Lietuva
    December 12, 2016 / 8:59 am

    Actually, a few days in Galveston (the heart of the brown beaches just south of Houston) can be fun. There are plenty of local restaurants to eat at and quite a bit of interesting history to take in. We had to take a few ghost tours to get a good history of the town in between the ghost stories, but it was all very charming. The seawall isn’t bad either, but it’s better to go in the fall or spring before beach season (there’s a Pleasure Pier, too, if that’s your thing.) And I agree there are TONS of worthy museums in nearby Houston besides NASA. The Houston Museum of Natural Science, Czech Center Museum, and the National Museum of Funeral History are all on our agenda for our next stay in south Texas.

  3. May 17, 2016 / 9:38 am

    Thanks for the info on NASA Victoria. My husband lived in Houston most of his life and it had been closed for some time. Later when we visited, we were told Florida was the only place for tours so I’m glad to hear they do have them! That’s great. Oh! And yes, I agree with you on the Museums in Houston. It’s interesting that the NYT place Houston as one of the best food destinations in America. Not sure *I* would agree with that but, hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion. =) Thanks for your additions! Great adds!

  4. Victoria
    May 13, 2016 / 9:04 am

    Hmmm, NASA still does tours, lots of them and a brand new complex for a shuttle replica. Houston has one of the largest metropolitan complexes of museums, if you’re into that and is routinely rated by folks like the New York Times as one of the best food destinations in America.