Category Archives: Travel

I’ve been to SXSW several times and love Austin. Every time I visit, I try to extend my time as much as possible. This year I had asked work if they would cover a few extra days so that I could attend SXSW EDU. In the end, I ended up paying for everything myself, which meant I was actually on holiday while at the conference. Oddly, I didn’t mind this. When work pays for a conference I feel I have to attend everything that will be useful to my work, even sessions that I don’t expect to find interesting. I feel I have to maximise the return on the expense. Without the pressure to attend all sessions, I could attend the sessions that interested me and drop out of the conference whenever I felt like a break. It also meant the evenings were my own with no pressure to start…

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So I’ve finally got round to writing up my impressions of SXSW 2016 Interactive and Film. This year I mainly went for music and I’ve already blogged about my impressions and why this is likely to be my last SXSW. But I thought I’d briefly cover my Interactive and Film sessions. This year was SXSW’s 30th Anniversary. My first visit was in 2011, SXSW’s 25th and that was big and brash. This year’s festival felt more low key than the 25th. This is an odd thing to say when the keynote was given by President Obama. But I felt there was less of a buzz than previous years, especially during music week. Although I mainly attend for the music, I do go to the occasional Interactive and watch a few of the films and documentaries. As far as interactive is concerned, Obama was the big draw. Attendance was through a…

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For the last year I’ve been regularly walking around London. The river usually plays a part in most walks as I love the Southbank. It’s a great way of walking through London without having to worry about traffic or polution. The Southbank is actually a section of something called the Thames Path which runs from it’s source up to the Thames Barrier. Earlier in the year I walked a section of the Thames Path from Richmond to Hammersmith Bridge and found it a good way of seeing new bits of London. This weekend a Tall Ships festival was taking place in Greenwich. This is the first time the ‘Tall Ships’ have been to London for 30 years. The focus of the festival was Greenwich but there were also going to be ships moored at Woolwich. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to walk another new section of…

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For a change of pace and to see more of the US, for the final leg of my travels around the US, I decided to catch the Amtrak from Austin to Chicago. Train travel in the UK, despite being expensive and occasionally unreliable, is convenient and extensive. Most major towns have a railway station and you can simply walk up on the day and buy a ticket. Train travel doesn’t feel like a luxury and neither does it feel like you’re a second class citizen for not traveling by car or plane. That’s not the case in the US. Train travel is definitely has the air of being a second class form of transport. I find this especially odd as the railroad built the USA. Arriving at Austin’s Amtrak station you could be confused into thinking that you were at the wrong place. A tiny little building next to a…

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I love music and I work in web development so SXSW seems like an ideal mix and two years ago I attended SXSW2011 thinking this would be the case. But as I blogged shortly after I returned, SXSW Interactive left a lot to be desired. It has long stopped being a technical event and now is more concerned with ‘social business’. As I was paying my own way. This left me disappointed with the Interactive strand. But I did enjoy SXSW2011. SXSW Music was good and I discovered that I enjoyed SXSW Film. But one really important factor in my enjoyment was Austin. It’s such a lovely city. So it had to be done again. But this time, I would approach it differently. The plan was to only go to SXSW Interactive sessions if they really looked interesting. I selected the same hotel as in 2011, the Holiday Inn at…

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[View the story “Vegas & San Francisco” on Storify]

Vegas. Big, loud, tacky and slightly seedy. Not my scene. So why visit? My thinking was simple, on the doorstep is the Grand Canyon. A place I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Vegas seemed liked a good hub to visit the amazing Canyon. Travelling on my own, I was unsure how well Vegas would work. I like travelling to the US because you can sit at a bar and you usually end up striking a conversation with somebody. But Vegas? Who goes to Vegas to party on their own? With this in mind, I booked several shows to take up some of my time in the evening. The plan was simple. Go on tours during the day. Shows in the evening. Then find a quiet bar and have a few beers. My hotel of choice was Harrah’s. This seemed nice and central and was very…

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I’ve always thought San Francisco would be a cool place to visit and I had been told by several people how great the city is. So it seemed a good place to start the first leg of my holiday. To save money, I chose to use a Super Shuttle to get from the airport to my hotel. I’d been warned about the Tenderloin district as a place to avoid. Unfortunately my shuttle driver had to make a stop near this district so one of my first experiences of San Francisco was seeing the hundreds of homeless, mentally ill and drug addicts who sleep rough in this district. I’ve never seen this level of deprivation in my life. It’s not something I expected to see in one of the richest cities in the world and I’m afraid it influenced my view of the city. How can a city as rich as…

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8/8