We chose Austin, Texas because an America singer called Patty from our local Oxford music pub recommended it for live music. Then the harmonic player from Lighting Willy and Poor Boys sang its praises to us – his name is Fancy and they also play at the Harcourt sometimes.
Our motel was crap, right next to a roaring freeway and no double glazing, but we did meet an interesting couple in the miniscule breakfast room there (the woman guided Margaret through the intricacies of the waffle maker). He had studied English but now worked in the renewable energy world.
However, the Super 8 motel was central and had great views of the wonderful Capitol building, seat of state governance for Texas. It was also close to a nice little park beside a stream which borders the eastern part of the city, and there I saw my first group of boat tailed grackles, a bird that is very common in Texas but fascinates me in its song, its movements and general behaviour. I reckon it’s related to our blackbird.
Found great blues music at King Bee’s on the first night and the beer wasn’t too bad either. There was eve real avaible (not) see photo. Next night we ventured into Sixth Street where there is an amazing collection of bars, most with live music. We had a good time in a piano bar where a young man vamped on the keys and sang energetically backed by just a drummer and driven to excess by tips and requests.
Wasted a lot of time trying to get data to work on my phone in Austin: essential for Uber and maps. It was a problem that dogged me for most of the trip. Thank the stars for Wi-Fi, but it’s often not there when you need it.
Moved to Corpus Christi by Greyhound bus via San Antonio (Remember the Alamo) and found it as interesting as it is intriguing on the map: the reef-like Padre Island runs along mile after mile of the Mexican Bay coastline in front of the city. At first we had a hotel with a swimming pool on the north side of a very impressive bridge which crosses the dockland inlet. There we established a local in Blackbeards: chatter at the bar and live music in the next room. Had some good conversations in Blackbeards.
Then moved into the Emerald Hotel in the city proper and right on the shoreline, but a bit out of town (we go for cheap places but it’s still costing a small fortune to live). Room was crummy but a view to die for. From there we spent two nights at the House of Rock but the music was not as good as Austin (or the Harcourt). Then off to Harlingen in the south which so far seems a very bad mistake.