Filed under Travel

Six Months in Austin

Arrive in any large airport in the United States, and you’ll immediately be greeted by all the stereotypical tourism clichés that the surrounding area has to offer. Baltimore? Have some crab cakes. Boston? Lobster and Sam Adams. Dallas? Barbecue.

Land in Austin’s airport and you’re greeted with music and pleas to “keep Austin weird”. But what does that mean exactly? I’ve always heard that Austin was unique to Texas; a haven for food, music and technology. But finding the truth in that was proving to be elusive.

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On a Boat

The far northern point of Seven Mile Beach
So there was this cruise thing that happened. Overall, it was an amazing experience! Not only was it a traditional cruise, with several ports of call in the Caribbean, but there was an entire entertainment package geared toward geeks.  You can see the details in the link above.

Before I get into all the details of what happened, and what I enjoyed, I did want to briefly talk about what I didn’t like.  The cruise ship itself, run by Holland America, was impressive (which I will talk more about in a moment).  The staff on the ship were more helpful than you can imagine – if you wanted food or drinks sent to your room, you could do so, any time of the day.  If you were at the buffet restaurant, and needed more coffee, no need to get up – one of the many waitstaff would be happy to go fetch a refill for you.  All the attention is amazing, but it seemed to go to a lot of people’s heads. I’ve never seen so many self-centered, rude people congregating in one place in my life. Perhaps they are always like that, but part of me wants to believe it was just the environment fostered on the ship.

The other disappointment was the places we visited. While they were beautiful, and the weather was perfect, they were very much geared toward tourists — and parting them from their money. Given a choice, this would not be my preferred vacation.  I would much rather experience a place’s culture, not a manufactured tourist trap with nice weather.  I very much doubt that I would do another Caribbean cruise – or, at least, not to the places we visited.

All right. Enough of the negative. Lets talk about the fun stuff!

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Contacting me in Europe

This time next week, I’ll be getting ready to leave for Spain (with a brief stopover in England) for a week.

Because mobile phone roaming charges are evil, I’m not going to have my usual constant connection to the interwebz via my iPhone.  If you need to get a hold of me urgently, send me a text message.  (If you don’t know my mobile number, get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to give it to you.)  Please only use this for urgent purposes though – while regular text message charges are already daylight robbery, roaming text message charges are even more obscene.

For everything else, feel free to use Twitter/Email/etc.  I will have WiFi access at my hotels, so at the very least I’ll be able to catch up on communications once or twice a day.

I’ll be in England 3/2 and part of 3/3, then in Spain for the rest of the time.  England is +5 hours from EST, and Spain is +6 hours from EST.

Did I forget anything?  Feel free to leave a comment.  Thanks!

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