I always forget how amazing Austin is. As a native Texan who has explored many of the state's nuanced crevices, both large and small, I find liking Austin cliche. Paul Goldberger* put it best in today's speech when he said that Austin is the one place in Texas that everyone from places like New York and San Francisco can agree to like. Still, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Austin has a lot to offer.
Last night Charlie (the brother) picked me up from the airport and dropped me by my hotel. I ended up getting a room at the Austin Motel on South Congress (SoCo). While I'm a good mile from the conference hotel, SoCo is a fun, walkable neighborhood. There are tons of independent shops and restaurants, and the entire neighborhood just has an open vibe. The Austin Motel is fun because it has themed rooms and a laid back atmosphere.
Texas, however, is killing my Fall buzz. I got up this morning and was able to have breakfast outside in my flip flops. In fact, the pool at the motel is still open.
Anyway, I walked across Town Lake into downtown in order to find the Hilton and check-in to the conference. I then camped out in the hotel lobby to do some work and wait for the opening plenary at 5:00.**
I fully anticipated being bored during the plenary but was so glad to be dead wrong. They kicked off the session with some live music from local musicians (check out Phoebe Hunt, phenomenal voice, cool fiddle, with the Belleville Outfit). As entertaining as the music was, it was far from the best part. The president of the National Trust was motivating and even Laura Bush had some great stories. However, Paul Goldberger, the New Yorker's architecture critic, was phenomenal. He said so many things that were quote worthy and inspiring. I've been searching the internet for video of the speech and am hopeful he will post a transcript on his site. I left the 2-hour assembly pumped and brimming with ideas.
I capped the evening off with tacos from Guero's Taco Bar up the street from my hotel. After sampling the Al Pastor that was made with marinated pork, pineapple, cilantro and lime, I can see why it's one that put them on the map.
*OMG, so brilliant that I'm going to end up gushing.
**5?! It felt late for kicking off a conference, but who am I to judge?