Honky tonk heaven
Trip Start Sep 01, 2008
113Trip End Feb 26, 2010
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Excited about beginning our Texas experience in Austin, we visited the Story of Texas museum to learn about the history of the state. There we learned all about the hundreds of years it was part of Mexico, its struggle for independence in the Texas revolution and the Civil War with the Northern states as well as the discovery of oil and the Texas Rangers (cowboys to those who learnt everything they know about Texas from films!) It was really well laid out and very interesting.
We then visited the State Capitol which is, strangely, pink. It is the second largest after Washington DC and can be seen all the way along Congress Avenue which passes through the centre of downtown Austin
After a delicious sandwich which was possibly the first unprocessed meal we’ve had here (thank you Caffeine on Congress!), we walked across the river to SoCo (South Congress) which is a trendy area of the city. We spent an enjoyable few hours exploring enormous vintage and antique shops (surprisingly fun for people who aren’t normally into that sort of thing) and sitting in a café watching the world go by.
That evening was our real Texas experience… a honky tonk! After hearing this word thrown about, we finally found out that this is the term for a bar with a license, dance floor and live music (particularly country music). The Broken Spoke is 'the last of the true Texan dance halls and darn sure proud of it’ (quote from the owner) and looked just like a set from a Western. It was in a wooden barn with an unpaved, potholed carpark and neon signs outside. Inside, wooden tables and chairs surrounded a stage, a pool table and a dance floor. The decoration consisted of stuffed moose heads, signed photos of country music acts, old saddles, wagon wheels and other ranching memorabilia. We bought ourselves a drink and Stuart ordered their award-winning Chicken fried Steak (sounds strange but its basically KFC with beef), a Texan speciality. The band were ‘Debra Peterson & the Accordion Round-Up’ and played a range of country and blues music on the typical instruments: bass, guitar, violin, pedal steel and accordion/piano. Having gone just to say we had seen a Texas dancehall, we enjoyed the music far more than we expected and had a really good evening, even when the singer told everyone we were from England and everyone gave us a standing ovation! (we were pleased to find the bar is not touristy at all and it was all locals in there that night).
It seems the further away from the coasts we get, the friendlier the welcome. Looking forward to the rest of Texas...