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Awesome Times in Austin

The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

Austin. What is it about this city that makes it so cool? Is it the live music scene that is so abundant, is it the weirdness that overlays the population, is it the big college crowd, or is it the trailer park food scene? This is my first time in the infamous city that stands apart from the rest of Texas. All stereotypes of cowboys and thick accents are broken – it is way hip and totally cosmopolitan. In a 24 hour period of time, I managed to fall in love with this city in a major way. Here are some tips to having an awesome time in Austin on a budget.

I flew out here for my cousin’s 50th birthday bash, and got here a few days early to do some work. Expense accounts are always the best way to travel – but, of course, I am still trying to keep it affordable. We stayed at the well known Austin Motel – that has been a quirky landmark since 1938. The rooms are all different (we got the Polka Dot Surprise room, which happened to be right in tune with my Mad Men fetish right now) and luckily, the rates are reasonable. A room with two double beds was less than $100. Not too shabby – plus the South Congress area (SoCo) is pretty happening and there are tons of cool places to hang out at within walking distance.

The first thing we did after dropping off our bags was to head over to Doc’s, an old car garage come sports bar. The afternoon sun was setting and it was the perfect time of the day to enjoy Happy Hour beers and appetizers. We made friends with our cool waitress, who gave us the low down on where to go in the area and even came out with us after we convinced her to get off early. She said she needed the hours, but come on – servers in Texas only make $2.13 an hour!

We walked two blocks up to the Continental Club. There was a great swing band playing for FREE and the pool games were only 75 cents. They had a delicious local IPA that cost just $4 and the lounge scene was a perfect place to get acquainted with the live music scene and meet some cool people. Around 9 p.m. they wanted to charge everybody $8 to see the next band – so we bailed, since that was a bit too much for my broke-ass wallet.

We meandered down to probably the best karaoke bar I have ever been to. The place is called Ego’s, which is suitably named after people who love to be on stage. It is located in the most random place ever, basically underground an office building in a parking garage. Anyways, the place was amazing. As soon as I got there, I went to the bathroom and met a girl who was crying because some chick slammed the door in her face and half of her front tooth was missing. Very classy. The singing started at 10 p.m. The talent was immaculate. I couldn’t believe that such great voices could be found in the seediest bar in town! The place got packed as the time went by and we met a whole slew of interesting characters – and low and behold, pulled in a lot of FREE drinks by some guys with cute accents. I literally thought I was Debbie Harry when I finally got on stage to sing…

The following day, we checked out the beautiful campus at the University of Texas. There are a few FREE museums and a lot of monuments to see. We walked back to the neighborhood we were staying in and happened to be passing by the bat bridge just in time to see the pink sun shimmering down behind downtown and see the flock of bats fly away over the river upon nightfall. We continued to walk back to South Congress where it was the First Thursday – which means that all the shops have FREE drinks and snacks and are open until 10 p.m. Live music blasted the streets at every corner. We continued up to the trailer park food court up the way and had some cheap grub. Try the Predator and Prey (Rattlesnake and Rabbit) hotdog at the Wurst Tex trailer. Totally Texan…

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Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger

Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger

Heidi works for a non-profit cultural exchange organization helping others experience life from a different perspective. She likes magnetizing the obscure and scavenging the city for fun, free things to do. She is a world traveler, a freelance writer and a spontaneous chef. She is also said to be part-mermaid.