I’m a big walker. When I was in high school, I’d walk ridiculously long distances — an hour home from school, across town to play basketball, a few miles to grab a slice of pizza. Even once I had my drivers license, I’ve always preferred walking. It’s one of the only ways you could really be at one with
nature gravel and concrete, and really get to know a place intimately. It’s also, in my opinion, one of the few ways you could truly “conquer” a city.
Yesterday, I arrived in Austin, Texas, the final stop on a four day road trip from NYC. Having never been to Austin before, I’ve been pretty excited to explore the lay of the land and temporarily live out my own version of a much less stellar Richard Linklater movie. While I’m technically here for SXSW to assist with some sweet filming, I don’t have a “badge,” and am not cool enough on my own to have been invited to sweet parties. SXSW is the reason I’m here, but I’m much more interested in exploring Austin.
I get that idiots like me invading the city make this statement hilariously contradictory — trying to get a sense of Austin during SXSW is probably like trying to get a feel of the real New Orleans during Mardi Gras — but SXSW, based on its Corporate Hipster premise alone, seems like the place to go if you’re looking to be a walking contradiction.
Anyway, I decided I’d spend the morning veering clear of Sixth Street — we’re staying in Zilker, which is just south of all the main stuff, so I decided I’d walk to a cool breakfast taco/burrito place that Yelp seemed to be pretty into. It was a half an hour walk, which was perfect — I’d be able to explore the area, get an on-the-ground feel of Austin, and add this fine southern city to my walking resume. All in all, this would be the first step in conquering Austin by foot.
The breakfast place, as it turned out, appeared to be pretty perfect. It was quite funky in aesthetic, in the sense that your dad or grandfather might take one look at the place, shake his head disappointingly, and tell you about how he really just doesn’t get it. The place was both a hangout and a restaurant, with that same sort of feel a coffee shop might have before the owner realizes how much money they could pull in if they franchise the place. It was just before 11am, but already there were a few long-haired band dudes setting up for live music. I haven’t been in Austin long enough to say that the place was “very Austin,” but it definitely had a personality that was unique unto itself.
Satisfied with my mini-adventure, I walked back to the house, intent on planning the rest of the day. Turns out, Austin had other ideas.
The rest of my day was spent hugging the toilet, pumping out a steady stream of vomit — the sort of vomiting that’s as miserable as it is impressive, in the sense that you forget how much stuff the inside of your body holds. I’m no doctor — nor did I stay a Holiday Inn Express last night — but I’m pretty sure the only possible explanation for such an extreme, 16 hour-type body breakdown is food poisoning. Part of me wants to be very angry at that awesome taco place — part of me wants to be that person social media who attempts to put a place on blast because one of their thousands of customers had a bad experience — but having thought it over for the past few hours, I’m pretty sure it was just me. I think the bad taco experience was payback for thinking I could walk all over the Austin without any consequence. That I wasn’t fit to explore either SXSW or the city — and that I best be punished via relegation to the bathroom floor, and a lifetime fear of Austin breakfast burritos.
Long story short, Austin’s up 1-0.