Despite all the flying and the inevitable sitting around on the tarmac and having to race up and down concourses to catch connections we should have had two hours to catch but only had 15 minutes ..... we had a great time in the US of A.
Austin is not a wonderful place. Or at least, what we could see of it from the hotel window and on the two occasions we left the hotel for dinner, it is not a wonderful place. It may be that downtown is fine and I hear there are lots of good music places there, but, well, we didn't stray far from the hotel at all.
The point of that part of the trip was to see old friends, meet people I knew only from correspondence or the Internet and generally have a Good Time. And all of that could be accomplished in the hotel. It was the reason my friends had paid for me to go and I took my job seriously. I partied long and hard.
When we did venture outside, in the company of a car-driving friend from San Francisco, we spent a great deal of time trying to negotiate the maze of flyovers and freeways that the good people fo Austin have allowed to be plonked down right across their town. Austin is not a place for pedestrians, it seems.
The trips out to eat were a welcome break from life in the hotel, however. One night we went to Threadgill's for some home cookin', neighborino. The secret of success of such a trip out is to take along a tame Southern boy from Alabama who can point out all the best things to try. Mixing and swapping, we got to try fried green tomatoes; cheese-a-dillos; chicken-fried steak (the house speciality - although they also do the bizarrely named chicken-fried chicken); stewed okra and tomatoes; San Antonio squash (a casserole baked with green chilies, queso, and onions); garlic cheese grits; black-eyed peas (slow-cooked with onion, garlic, and spices); turnip greens and collard greens. Oh, and some onion rings, of course.
Followed by Pecan Pie and Chocolate Ice Box Pie.
All washed down with Texas Margaritas on the rocks.
And before we left, most of us got to shove our hands up an armadillo's arse*. Where else in the world, eh?
As we got lost in the freeway jungle for the umpteenth time on the way back from Threadgill's, my driver friend was heard to mutter to his wife, "If I ever suggest coming back to Austin, just shoot me, will ya?"
(*Actually, it was a glove puppet.)