Let me tell you about my town…

Although when I started this blog I intended it as a personal outlet with which to sound off about anything and everything, rather than as an adjunct to a resume or one of those websites that shouts, “Here I am, look how great I be,” I don’t see anything wrong with occasionally trumpeting things I’ve done that I’m proud of — it is, after all, my website and if I don’t talk about this kind of stuff, who will?

This past year I’ve been lucky enough to have been keeping quite busy as a freelancer specializing in travel and business-oriented writing; I even restarted a long-dormant sideline (which used to be a main gig back in the day, in another life) of writing about music and musicians, this time for Austin’s daily newspaper, which I’m very happy about — it gives me an excuse to chat with and ask nosy questions of people like Nick Lowe and Amy Rigby, not to mention attending the occasional free concert in the middle of the week (I wouldn’t want to be out nightclubbing every night, even if I could stand to do that anymore, but once in a while is fine, it keeps the juices flowing, especially while feverishly scribbling in the dark as I listen to the goings-on on stage). I’ve also done quite a bit of writing about my adopted city of Austin for a variety of magazines, from Voyageur (the house organ of Carlson Hotels Worldwide) to Ty Pennington At Home.

In any event, back in April of 2007 I was approached by an editor at Fodor’s Travel asking if I’d like to update and expand listings for their Austin website — which I did, using the old, dated text as a framework, deleting closed restaurants (there were several), making notes of which hotels had changed ownership (quite a few), editing at will and adding reams of new copy.

That fall, I was tapped to write the Austin chapter of a forthcoming actual print guidebook; Fodor’s had published a guide to Texas over a decade ago, but it had been so long that this new project was treated as a first edition, which, essentially, it is. The book was published in July, and you can buy it here. A smaller guide to San Antonio, Austin, & the Hill Country, with expanded listings for those areas, came out in August.

Full disclosure: I only wrote what I estimate to be 85 percent of the Austin chapter (another writer handled most of the nightlife/entertainment section, because it was such a huge job and deadlines were short), but, yeah, I’m the guy you can blame if the chapter steers you wrong. It was a lot of work that felt at times like a final exam in being a Real Travel Writer, as I zipped around from one hotel to another like a lunatic (no, I didn’t stay in every one of these hotels overnight, but I did check out the rooms and public spaces thoroughly, from historic landmarks to highway off-ramp crash pads), dashed from one Austin Attraction to the next, gave some ink to a host of new shopping opportunities, laid down the Basics of Getting There and Getting Around (uh, no, you don’t need a car downtown), and familiarized myself with good and bad, cheap and luxe restaurants alike (and no, in case you’re wondering, I did not end up eating dozens of meals on the cuff). I took great delight in deleting two restaurants from the listings that in my opinion, had become faded tourist traps (I’m not saying which ones; if you know Austin well, you might deduce them from their absence), and a hotel or two with exceptionally rude front-desk staff.

I tried as hard as I could to be as current with the listings as possible, but of course, right after the deadline things happened like long-time restaurants closing and the city’s arena football and hockey teams (both minor-league affairs) folding. Chefs leave, shops close; what can you do. Call ahead. Check the web site.

In any case, I can now say that I’ve probably seen the interiors of more hotels in Austin than almost anyone except serial masochists and temporary maids.  During the course of my research, by the way, I determined that nearly all of these hotels either: a) have recently completed a major renovation, b) are in the middle of major renovations, or c) are planning major renovations next year.

Or at the least, they’re getting new carpeting and some chairs for the lobby. Oh, and Sleep Number beds are big. And if the place doesn’t have in-room flat-screen TVs yet? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Looking for a place to stay? Get in touch.


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