I like Texas! If you didn't know, I was just in Texas from March 14th to the 19th.
Texas reminded me of The United States in the late 80' and early 90's: people still get married early, dial up Internet is just starting to roll out (exception would be in Austin), and men still work very manly jobs that require either large trucks, oil rigs, or cattle.
The People: Texans are a funny bunch. When you first meet them they come across as being either slow or mentally r'tarded, but in reality they just have to warm up to you. Once they get comfortable with you they never shut the hell up. If a Texan starts up a conversation with you and you have a plane to catch, just call up the airline and cancel it.
Texans LOVE talking about politics, especially gun control and civil liberties. When I told them that I was one of the few "New York libertarian's", they got really excited. I was constantly reminded about our Gestapo Mayor in NYC, King Bloomberg, and how he is trying to ban large soda's among other things.
Texans get a kick out of New Yorkers. Once they got their point across regarding politics, they would ask me a million questions about New York City and how we live. They seemed excited that we actually took the time to travel to Texas for vacation.
Texans have a good sense of humor. I came with two of my friends from my first book, "Mr. Pleasure and Erico", and we had the Texans cracking up with some of our typical New York banter. I could probably start a comedy show and travel across Texas making a lot of money.
Overall I really like Texans. They are FIERCELY independent and self-sufficient, but let's not go overboard, Texas has RULES. Ton's of stupid Rules, and definitely a lot more than we have in New York City.
In Texas you cant:
- Buy beer in a store after midnight (Gay)
- Buy liquor on Sundays (Gay Gay)
- Bars close at 2am (Super Gay)
They are also pushy on other stupid rules like jaywalking, they drive HORRIBLE, and they change the speed limit every 100 yards to pull you over for speeding.
They also tried to arrest my friend for vomiting outside on a beach deck. I looked at the officer and started laughing, I said "Officer, we are on vacation, its 1:30am, we are on the beach, and he vomited on a wooden beach deck!". The officer laughed and let me carry him out, but I couldn't believe they cared about that. In NYC if you vomit the bar starts cheering, and we hand you a glass of water. You are supposed to get drunk in a bar! Why else do you go there?
The 2am rule is the worst. They throw an entire niteclub out onto the street at 2am, and since everyone is just getting started, the people go crazy. People start throwing punches, jumping on cars, and running into the middle of the street.
In NYC bars, people start to slowly stumble out between 2 and 4am, making it a peaceful exit instead of a mad bumrush.
It's not only bad that they have a 2am closing time, but they are also strict about it. In NYC you can ALWAYS get a beer after 4am. If the bar is still going strong they will stretch it and give you some extra time.
Texas doesn't stretch. They take their own bullshit way too serious, in Brooklyn you can buy beer from a grocery at 8am on Christmas morning.
San Antonio: San Antonio was our first stop. I liked it, but I couldn't live there. San Antonio's downtown area is really small. It reminded me of downtown Phoenix, a nice place to watch a basketball game and have a beer, but after that everyone goes back to the suburbs where it is nicer.
There are only 2 good spots in San Antonio that I found:
- The Alamo: Which is cool but small.
- The Riverwalk
The Riverwalk was pretty much where all of the action was. The Riverwalk is a cool 20 foot wide river that snakes through the bottom of downtown San Antonio. There is a walking path that you can take, and that leads you to several different bars and restaurants. It almost reminded me of Epcot center in Disney World.
The Riverwalk was definitely cool, but I think that I would get bored quickly of the same couple bars if I lived there. The only bar I really remember standing out was an Irish bar called Waxy O'Connors http://waxyoconnors.com/">http://waxyoconnors.com/
Nice weather in San Antonio, but not enough going on for me to live there.
Brownville/South Padre: The next day we drove about 5 hours through the desert to South Padre. There was nothing to see on the ride except dust, and some cattle ranches. We stopped into Brownsville to have probably the best Mexican food I ever had, and then we drove on to South Padre.
You know you are getting close to South Padre when you see this really long bridge. It connects the mainland to the inlet, and it was packed with cars. We didn't see any cars for hours until we got stuck in horrible traffic on the bridge.
South Padre reminded me of Ocean City, Maryland. Its a long narrow beach with some hotels and the occasional nightclub, with teenagers walking around trying to stock up on beer. We stayed at the "Hilton Garden Inn", which is down a little bit from the big action, but it's near "Clayton's" which was probably the second most crowded bar. http://claytonsbeachbar.com/">http://claytonsbeachbar.com/ We spent the first afternoon AND the first night at Clayton's. Cool outside bar with a huge deck, highly recommended.
The second night we went to Louie's Backyard, which was very young, but PACKED. I imagine this place must be really insane in the summer. http://www.louiesbackyard.com/">http://www.louiesbackyard.com/
Overall, South Padre was really cool. Most of the hotels had some parties going on at their pools during the day, and I would highly recommend a trip if you don't live to far away. The only pain in the ass is that the closest airport is Brownsville, and then you have to drive in from there or take a slow bus. Overall, I would definitely revisit South Padre.
Austin: Our last stop was in Austin, TX. My friend Mr. Pleasure had been to Austin before and hated it, but I was dieing to see what all the hype was about. We passed by San Antonio driving up, and after passing it we immediately noticed more signs of city life. We started to see grass on the side roads instead of dirt, and we passed a HUGE outlet mall about half an hour from Austin.
I was always worried that Austin was going to be a gigantic hipster fest like what we have now in Brooklyn, and when I first arrived I started to panic. The first ten people I saw on the street were full blooded hipsters with long beards and tight plaid shorts. "Oh shitttttt!" We all collectively sighed in the car at the same time.
We booked at room at the Hyatt, which was actually really impressive. It's a huge hotel that contains a couple nice bars and restaurants, and it is walking distance to the action. We checked into the hotel and went to go for a walk on 6th street which is supposed to be the hot spot, and immediately we were in shock!
Right at the start of 6th street there was some sort of homeless shelter/methadone clinic, and it had about 40-50 vagrants sleeping outside on the sidewalk. It reminded me of something out of Skid Row in Los Angeles. We quickly made a turn up the block to avoid the nonsense, but unfortunately a lot of the characters were walking up and down the block. They were also the aggressive homeless type, and I was asked for money about 6 times in 2 blocks. 6th street looked really cool, with a ton of interesting bars and live music, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the crack heads walking around looking dangerous.
So after only ten minutes in Austin I was NOT impressed. We went to have a drink at this bar called "Bikini's Sports Bar", where all the waitresses wear Bikini's http://www.bikinissportsbarandgrill.com/">http://www.bikinissportsbarandgrill.com/, and AGAIN we had a problem with some homeless people. We were all watching the Miami/Boston game, when a dirty homeless guy reached inside the bars' open window, and started eating all of the condiments off a table with his dirty hands. It was completely disgusting, and now I was quickly starting to hate Austin.
Two of the guys ended up going back to the hotel, but I stayed out with another guy to drive around and get a better look. We drove away from 6th street, and that's when then we started to get impressed. Austin has all different types of neighborhoods, they have a business district, the state capital building, a University section, and the city is also very hilly. After driving around we were REALLY impressed by everything EXCEPT the seedy parts of 6th street. We were on 6th street on a Monday, so I assumed that there was probably more of a police presence on the weekend.
Overall, I ended up being very impressed with Austin. It has different neighborhoods which I like, a ton of bars, and a million people between ages 18 and 40. The weather was perfect, and all the people seemed very chill. It reminded me of a San Francisco in the 1960's or Seattle in the 90's. It is definitely the "hot spot" at the moment, and a town you really can't get bored in. The music scene looked awesome, and we passed at least 5-10 bars that had bands playing loudly on a Monday night.
The main problem for me with Austin is that it is definitely a hipster town, I would even call it the "Mardi Gras" of hipster neighborhoods. We have that same scene in Brooklyn, and after a while I would go crazy with all the beards and ugly tattoo's. On our last day we went into the Starbucks inside the Hyatt, and they didn't offer customers any "Whole"milk. The lady actually gave us a dirty look when we asked for it, and another women told us that Austin recently 'banned" plastic bags.
That's a little too much government overkill for me, and it is just what I am trying to avoid coming from NYC. But overall I think it's absolutely a cool town that deserves a visit, and if you are into hipster culture this will be your paradise.
Don't mess with Texas