South By Southwest (SXSW) – Part 2

Before we headed to SXSW, we started out Sunday by heading to South Austin to do a little shopping in the antique shops and grab a bite to eat.  The concierge at our hotel suggested we spend a little time there.  He was right.  There are a lot of small, boutique stores and restaurants there.  We were able to find a parking spot on the street and walked down the block.  The weather was awesome and the shops were fun.  We wanted to get a little fun in before the show.

Shops in South Austin

Unique Shops in South Austin

I found this Black Cherry soda at Home Slice Pizza in South Austin that was just awesome:

Black Cherry Soda

Black Cherry Soda @ Home Slice Pizza

We finally got to the show around 2:30 pm and headed for the Exhibit Hall before an afternoon session I wanted to attend.  I met  a few people that I think  would be great strategic partners.  For the second day in a row, most people I met on the exhibit floor didn’t have enough information about their product or service or didn’t give me pricing.  I’m amazed at this.  I’m wondering if they will be successful or if they will be out of business by SXSW 2011.

Later in the afternoon, I attended my first session of the show.  I was pretty disappointed.  It wasn’t what I was expecting based on the description.  Overall, I would say that the sessions were the least valuable part of the experience so far.  Out of the first three days of the Interactive portion of the show, I was only interested in 1 session and it disappointed me.  I think this show is valuable for networking opportunities and discovering new vendors in one location.  However, I think I will ask the show producers if they will offer an Exhibits Only pass for sale next year.

I went back to the exhibit floor and met a few people I knew from Vegas.  Rick from Blog World Expo had a booth, so I stopped by to chat with him.  He gave me the lowdown on navigating my way around SXSW.  I have to admit, for a first time attendee, it was very confusing.  There is a mysterious 3rd floor at the Austin Convention Center, but you have to access it from a specific location as the escalators near the exhibit hall only took you to levels 1 & 4…..very strange indeed.  Luckily, he pointed me in the right direction to find the Blogger’s Lounge.  There were several lounges at SXSW and I was struggling to find the Blogger’s Lounge.  It was located on the 4th level and tucked in the back corner….it was pretty difficult to find unless you had someone help you out.

The Blogger’s Lounge was sponsored by Techset and was a central location for all of the top bloggers to hang out.  The lounge was packed when I stopped by.  I ran into a few people I knew and was happy to see some familiar faces.  After brief conversation with some friends, Milena and I decided to take a walk over to the Four Seasons to hang out at a party at the lobby lounge.  It was a short walk to the Four Seasons.  When we arrived, the lounge was packed.  Unfortunately, we didn’t know anyone there.  The scene was pretty cliquish and after hanging around for a while, we decided to find somewhere to grab dinner.

We wandered around downtown Austin and found a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, Mekong River, which is on 6th Street, near the corner of Old Pecan St.  We had a few appetizers and some Pad Thai and Pad See Ew (sp?).  It was ok, I would rate it a 3 out of 5.  I was surprised that the food wasn’t that spicy.  We are accustomed to very spicy Thai food.

Cool Guitar - Austin

Milena & the Guitar (Austin, TX)

Once we had our fill, we had a lot of time to burn before the Mashable party.  With over two hours to kill, we decided to walk around downtown Austin.  We found a cool guitar display and people watched as we walked around the streets.  After about an hour, I began to be bothered by a sore throat.  We heard about a party hosted by Stumbleupon, so we decided to go check it out.  It was at a club called Mohawk on 10th and Red River St.  When we drove by the club, there was a line that wrapped around the corner and the club was already packed.  My throat was beginning to really bother me, so we decided to head back to the hotel and call it a night.  That’s 3 nights at SXSW and only been to 1 party.  I guess we’re behind on parties, but we’re still having fun.

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