I recently returned from an 8 day business trip to Charlotte, NC. While it was mostly made up of grueling workdays, and nights, I did have a few fun travel experiences that are worth sharing. Also, between finishing up studies and extended work hours, I am forgetting everything that I don't quickly record.

First of all, we stayed in the Westin Charlotte, which is conveniently located downtown within walking distance to almost all of the major sights. The staff was lovely, and during our stay we encountered a few professional athletes and Bruno Mars + caravan. While event management may sound glamorous, it usually is anything but. That is why they give people like us who basically live in the hotel for a week at a time, these magic cups. They call them this because I can take said cup anywhere in the hotel and the staff knows to fill it with whatever I want, for free, without any discussion.  They had a Starbucks... YES...7 days of unlimited Starbucks! (caffeine is a survival tool at these conferences).

Because of some of the functions we held, we were given the suite on the highest floor which spanned the entire width of the building had these incredible downtown views.

We could have watched a Panther's game from the in-suite bathtub. 

We took our international guests out to eat at King's Kitchen, a not-for-profit restaurant that serves some pretty incredible Southern food and improves the community while doing it. Probably my favorite experience of the week was visiting the Nascar Hall of Fame. Now, I am just as surprised as you that I would enjoy this place as much as I did, but it was an impressive museum, and the special exhibit happened to be famous cars used in movies.

 They had an awesome pit crew challenge where you could work in teams to get the best times, you could try a race simulator, and some of the stories and displays were really intriguing, even for someone with no interest, at all, in racing.

The CIO of NASCAR, Steve Wirling, flew into to speak to our group about the innovations in the company and I was floored at how complex the technology behind such a stereotypically down to earth sport really is.

We had one evening where we had two hours to ourselves so my coworker and I cabbed it to the NoDa district, a former mill town that has become a funky little neighborhood full of galleries, breweries, and a few restaurants. We scouted out the boutiques, but being from Austin we were a both a bit critical of how small the 'artsy district' was. We did duck into Crepe Cellar and had a fantastic dinner of savory crepes before having to run back to the hotel.

I enjoyed how cool and rainy it was in town, and while I didn't spend very much time sight-seeing, the downtown area of Charlotte seems very open, clean, and manageable. It was a nice city, but I don't enjoy work travel very much and I hope the next time I return, I can take my favorite travel companion along with me.

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