It’s time for another Travel Weird List!
You know, when you’re out and about and experiencing a new location and find yourself saying, “Whoa, that was weird!”
Because it’s a holiday and you probably have big plans, I’ll keep the list to 5 even though I could easily come up with a few more. I mean, Austin! So much to do and see!
5. Cooper’s BBQ – As you can imagine, bbq restaurants in Texas are a dime a dozen, but when every person you ask for a recommendation leads with the same name, you kind of have to go there, right? How is it that EVERYONE says to go there but NO ONE tells you what to expect when you get there?! Probably because it’s not that big a deal–once you figure it out. But it was still pretty weird.
We stood there, facing the cafeteria like display, eyeing the overhead sign listing items like Brisket $18.99 a pound, wondering what the hell? I confessed to the guy at the end that I wasn’t sure what to do. He opens the big grill, like he’s flashing me the inside of a coat draped with watches and dangling necklaces, to reveal MEAT. He points to the sign above with long tongs and tells me the smallest size is 1/4 pound. I ask for brisket (because it was first on the sign) and he cuts a slice, puts it on a plate on a tray and hands it to me. Next up, Dave orders the pork ribs because the beef ribs only come 1/2 pound and up and we like to taste test our way through new places. We walk to the next case where a guy takes our tray. A woman hands us a new tray. I pick a salad, Dave selects mac’n’cheese. I let her talk us into apple cobbler. Then the guy returns our meats, wrapped in paper. We pay. We sit. We look around…beans and bbq sauce are in big vats. There’s every condiment. And bread. Dave is a sandwich guy, so I grab some bread. We split the meats and sides on our folded place-mat plates. The brisket and ribs are AMAZING. Let me rephrase that for emphasis…the meat is DELECTABLE, SCRUMPTIOUS, HEAVENLY. No wonder Cooper’s is the first name to fall from a local’s lips. (And now YOU know!)
4. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – It was melty in Austin so we decided to kill some time in an air conditioned theater. We saw Good Boys, which is worthy of a post of its own, but not weird enough to make the list. The theater, however, was definitely weird. Cool. But weird. With vintage posters of sci-fi movies, missiles hanging from the ceiling, and a bar in the lobby, this place claims to be a “movie theater for fans by fans”. The theater itself is kind of like a college auditorium with rows of seats and a table ledge running the length of each row. There is a waiter and full menu of food and drink. Before the contemporary previews, they show vintage previews, commercials, and shorts. Fascinating! Very different by today’s PC standards…very weird. We often attend movies when we travel because different locations can be very odd experiences, but this one was by far the best. And weirdest.
3. The Bat Bridge – Because it was so desperately hot and humid, we made frequent stops as we walked around. I noticed a lot of bat items at the retail shops. When I asked, the clerk told us that Austin is known as Bat City. Seems they are home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Millions arrive each spring and take up roost beneath the Congress Bridge where they are protected by the city. They arrive pregnant, give birth, then in the fall they return to Mexico. People line up along the bridge to try and get a glimpse of them. Tours are built around their migration. I think that’s kind of cool. And also weird.
2. “The Era of Terrorism” – That is a direct quote from a salesperson in a store down the street from the capitol building when I asked about mail boxes. I was in Boston a couple of weeks ago and there were mail boxes on just about every corner. Being a huge USPS supporter, I thought that was awesome. When I wondered aloud why I hadn’t seen a single mail box anywhere during our downtown Austin wanderings, she said they removed them. She said the buses no longer come down this street either. Because of “the era of terrorism”. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure which is weirder…that they don’t run a bus to the capitol or that terrorism is the reason.
And lastly–firstly? The #1 Weird thing in Austin is…
The Museum of the Weird
which, I know, is kind of cheating.
But seriously, how crazy is it that I put together these “weird lists” and Austin has an entire museum dedicated to it?!
Their weird is different than mine. They have a collection of sci-fi movie props, wax figures of famous creatures, a display of animals born with mutations, and, their claim to fame, the frozen body of the Minnesota Ice Man. In addition to the museum, we were shown short videos and given a magic show. It was a fun, late night adventure between bar hops. I have to admit, I think it’s pretty bizarre that Keep Austin Weird is a thing. It’s like I’m home, lol.