Friendly people, great food, music everywhere. What’s not to love about Austin? I’m here to join two other writers, E.C. Frey, and Catherine Zane, on a panel at Book People, the largest independent bookstore in Texas.

Meanwhile, I’m exploring the town. I spent hours on South Congress Avenue, checking out all the quirky shops. Lunch was a tamale in the outdoor garden at Queso’s Tacos, with free live music of course.

After catching up with an old friend from our days as editors at Parenting magazine in San Francisco, I ended the night at Hole in the Wall listening to Shay Martin Lovett. I rarely (as in never) go to bars by myself, but you can’t visit Austin without checking out the nightly music scene. So many choices, but I must admit Hole in the Wall won me over with a gutsy rant on their website, excerpted here.

“Oh, you want the Austin experience and don’t want to go to Hole in the Wall? Go fuck yourself. This place is a goddamn landmark. No, literally. It has its own entry on the Texas State Historical Association website…. Every band you love that you didn’t realize came from Austin has played here. … The decor and vibe are exactly what you’d expect at a place that’s been around forever (like 1974), and it’s been fighting to survive since before you knew what cool was. Go pay your respects.”