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:
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!”
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…