Thursday, January 10, 2008

final days

today was my last day at work. and tomorrow is my last day in austin. for a while anyway. here's a summary of my time here.

I arrived in Austin mid-November. Ben W, a friend of the family had offered to let me live with him in his apartment for a few months, and I have a very hard time turning down any place that doesn't charge me rent. :D

my place of residence was North Austin, on Hwy 183. I had/have no transportation.

I've worked at Blockbuster, specifically located at the intersection of 183 and Anderson Mill Rd. it was a great job. very relaxed, and pretty easy. I avoid having jobs because I find I have to spend part of my time at them, instead of out doing what I'd want. maybe you've noticed a similar effect in your job. or maybe it's just me.
this one paid well, and the store manager, Ed, was pretty laid back. the best part of all, it was less then a 5 minute walk from home. I can honestly say right now, if I come back to N Austin, I'll reapply for this job.

speaking of no transportation, I spent some time on the bus system here, and my opinion has slowly changed of it. as far as public transportation goes, I much prefer trains any day. everyone does. trains and subways. often cheaper, always faster, and many times more convenient then buses. Austin does have have a train line starting operations later in 2008, or early 2009, but I don't know if the one line would have been useful to me or not.
back to the bus system, when I first rode it I hated it. I rode it on a crowded weekend, and I wasn't quite sure of where I was going. this was complicated as the Austin bus system does not announce bus stops. (I'm not sure if bus systems usually do or not, my only experience with public transportation before now has always been trains, subways, trolleys and the like.) this proved to be a problem, as I had no idea where I was. with as crowded as the bus was, I couldn't ask the driver either. I ended up getting off the bus 1 stop too late, and walking back. obviously this first trip caused me to dislike taking the bus.
however, there are many cool things going on in Austin, and I wasn't going to give up. so back on the bus I went, this time with my stops written down, and the number of stops between them memorized. this trip went much better, and I now have no problem with the Austin bus system. it's a pretty good way to see the city, especially without a car. my only complaint is often the last bus is around 11, and with Austin, the things you want to do are never over by that time.

things I recommend about Austin:

Kerby Lane Cafe.
Kerby Lane has 4 locations around Austin, so it shouldn't be too hard to find one if you're passing through. it's a 24/7 cafe with pretty good food, and great prices. also it shows you an.... interesting side of Austin. the people working at Kerby Lane are most often pretty odd looking, whether it be the hats, tattoos, piercings, hair styles, clothes, or any number of other factors that are often... different on the staff there. plus they have a bar as well. for those that were wondering.

UT, 4-6pm, on a weekday.
take the bus or drive, and explore Austin. I've done it multiple times, and have usually had a good time. it's kinda fun to be on the UT campus in the evening when everyone gets out of classes.

Alamo Drafthouse Theater.
they have one or two of these in Houston, and maybe one in San Antonio as well, but of course they started in Austin. it's a theater, with tables, and waiters, and pretty good food, tho overpriced of course. even of you're not planning on eating, (not required,) I suggest going to one. I realize many cities have such theaters, but the Alamo Drafthouse has a pretty cool vibe going with it. the only theater I liked as much as the Alamos was the small theater in McMinnville, OR. that one had couches, and a pizza parlor in the lobby.

things I wish I could recommend:

the bats. Austin is well known for its bat population, which swarm out at dusk, and are apparently pretty incredible to see. somehow, I never got around to seeing them, though I am interested in doing it. next time for sure.

as far as my explorations of downtown went, here's how I saw it.
*North-East downtown: UT. the boring side. not much to see in the North-East part of downtown Austin. I walked it, and can't think of anything worth seeing there.

*North-West: the interesting side of UT. this side is the edge of campus, and has interesting bookstores, and shops, and housing projects, etc. right between the North-East and South-East parts of downtown there's a theater, on edge of campus, called the Dobie Theatre, in the Dobie Mall. it's obviously a campus theater, with very small room, holding maybe 50-75 people. if you think about theaters, that's pretty small. the screen is small as well. the tickets aren't cheaper then normal theater tickets, but the awesome part is the movies they show. usually mostly independent films, and fairly interesting ones. this is the theater where I saw "I'm not there" the movie about Bob Dylan. at the time I went, they were also showing "Into the Wild," and "Juno."

back on topic, South-West is an odd part of town, and I don't really have much to say one it. shops, places to eat. a mix.

*South-East: in the day time, this part of town is pretty dead. but at night, this is what everyone talks about. bars, clubs, restaurants, everything.

now that's what I saw downtown, but it's good to remember that many people love the south parts of Austin, and I never crossed the river. I saw downtown, and North Austin, that's all.

anyways, tomorrow I'm off to San Antonio for a few days, and then back home to Lufkin.