You Kinda Just Had To Be There. (or- The Bats Fly At Sundown)

I used to have a boyfriend who didn’t understand travel. He had no idea why I liked traveling so much or why I felt the need to personally go and see so many different places.

“You can see them online,” he said, (he was a major techie), “you can see photos and videos and you can read about any place you want on the internet with some googling. There are so many travel blogs and there’s Wikipedia. Why do you need to go there?”

It always made me sad that some people (especially ones close to me) don’t understand how the internet can’t capture the feeling of a place. Photos and video and even the most beautiful words aren’t the same as actually being somewhere.

In my thirties I travel more than ever. I travel for work most of the time, but I’d love to travel more for pleasure (Soon! Right now, I usually stay put in New York when I’m off from work..this is because of financial reasons mainly (darn you, student loan!)), but soon I shall whip out my international bucket list once again.

I advise everyone to travel because it exposes you to all types of details and feelings you may miss where you are. Changing your location can really change your mindset- and your preconceived notions of the way other places (and other people) are.

This weekend I’ve been working in Austin, Texas. I went here once before with Jane, just for fun. We had the best time, and discovered that Austin was nothing like our preconceived ideas of Texas…even though we’d never been to Texas before. Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and the whole place reminds me more of the hipsterville that is Williamsburg, Brooklyn than the cowboytown that I thought Texas would be.

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

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Yum!

Jane and I Yelping the best Mexican food in Austin...all cheesy goodness!

We Yelped all the best Mexican food in Austin…lots of cheesy goodness!

This time Austin brought a completely different feeling…though also very good. Firstly, I’m here with different people (my coworkers) and at a completely different time in my life. Austin feels almost like a totally different place – even though it’s still as fun as I remember.

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Something I missed last time in Austin with Jane was the fact that there’s a bridge downtown where 1.5 million bats live. They stay under the bridge until sundown when they all fly out to feed.

My coworkers and I were told we needed to see these bats fly out from underneath the bridge, so we arrived at 8pm and waited together. It was pretty exciting. We expected to see this sight:

Photo we saw online.

Photo of what the internet told us we would see.

But instead we saw this:

Nice view. But no bats.

Nice view. But no bats.

And then this:

It got dark. We could kind of see some bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

Darkness. The bats were late. Then we could kind of see lots of bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

But we had a good time anyway because we got to hang out together in Austin and watch for bats. And we did eventually see bats. And heard bats. Even though it was different than we thought it would be.

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And I can’t imagine getting the all the feelings I get from Austin just from googling it online. Because I felt this:

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And those pictures and my description can’t capture it.

Austin is weird. And young. And hipster. And Southern. And party. And foodie. And wild. And sunset. And morning. And healthy. And unhealthy. And night time. And yoga. And whisky. And bikes. And dancing. And all. And none.

It will be different for you.

You just have to go there.

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Elvis? Is that you?

Elvis? Is that you? Are you in Austin?

The trash cans are solar powered? For reals?

The trash cans are solar powered here? For real?

Ladybird Lake

Ladybird Lake- I had no idea there was a running trail here.

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Wait, what’s this natural pool?

Wait, they made a pool out of LadyBird lake!

They made a pool out of LadyBird lake! Awesome!

You never know what you'll find once you're here

And who knows what you’ll find once you’re here…

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4 responses

  1. I too had an ex boyfriend who felt the same about travel and even when I did get him to travel he’d find a Scottish or Irish bar and want to spent his time there. ugh! I totally agree even the most beautiful photos they never do it justice like seeing and FEELING the real thing. Great post… Now I want to go to Austin 😉 XO

    Like

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