The Hotel San Jose in Austin is definitely a change for me. I’m used to staying in Hyatts and Sheratons; this boutique hotel is minimal and hip. The room is tiny by most standards, but there’s eucalyptus in the air and a cooling polished concrete floor. The patio (which has WiFi) features beer and wine in the evenings, and next door is a tiny coffee shop. Ambiance, folks. Plenty of it.
I spent the early afternoon bumming around with pal Sara, seeing the sights. I’m amazed at the difference between here and home — mostly the proliferation of independent shops, bars, restaurants… even drug stores. Back in DC, we have been invaded by chains and franchises, and I can’t help but be wistful at the idea of buying a book or a cup of coffee from a family-owned shop.