Houston, from what little I experienced, is a strange town. Seriously, it’s in Texas and the only cool place in that whole state is Austin.
I was able to keep myself entertained while I was there on a short sabbatical. Besides working on getting a good base tan in April 2011, I found some interesting places to visit.
The Swaminarayan Mandir Temple is pretty freaking cool. It’s a Hindu temple in the middle of suburbia that is hands down stunning. It’s beautiful. It’s all white and sculpted. By sculpted, I mean it looks like someone hand carved in intricate detail every Hindu story ever into every single millimeter of the temple, inside and out. Stunning might not encompass the awe I felt when I walked through it. The gardens and fountains around it are perfect places to contemplate the universe in macro or micro. There’s also a gift shop that sells all sorts of interesting Indian fare on the other side of the complex. The more awesome part: it’s FREE to visit!!! Score!
Since I was in a city I’ve never been to, of course I look for what breweries are there. I find Saint Arnold Brewing Company the oldest craft brewery in Texas. They won a gold medal at GABF for their Lawnmower kölsch in 2010. Which was good, for a kölsch, I guess. Sorry, I’d much rather drink a good Czech style pilsner or a stout. The tap room looks like something from fables of amazing beer gardens…looooong tables with benches, dark wood, and at the head of it all was the beer. If you decide to do the tour ($8 and you get a souvenier glass), remember to wear close toed shoes. I found it entertaining that the tanks were all named as saints such as Saint Elvis and Saint Dude. Note: this place was not too easy to find so be sure to get directions in advance. As I drank my Lawnmower alone, a few guys decided to strike up a conversation with me which lead me to my next destination.
As any beer gypsy would, I went to an interesting establishment because of those guys in the heart of downtown Houston named the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. They have a number of locations in the States, but that doesn’t make it any less strange or entertaining for me. There’s these huge oddly decorated plates all over the walls and ceiling of regulars that made it though their beer club. Now, I calculated that if I joined the beer club and was able to drink only 3 beers a day that qualified, I’d have to take about 3 months of my life off to get my own saucer. Was that worth 3 months of my life in Houston? Nope. But if you’re looking for food and a huge ass selection of beer, this is the place to go.
Galveston should be on the list of day trips from Houston. It’s a quaint large beach town on the Gulf of Mexico that has lots of history any some very cool places to hang. One such place to visit is Bishop’s Palace. This Victorian era house is hands down, freaking stunning. I’ve been to the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. Those are cool. Bishop Palace totally rocks and not just because it’s made of them. The inside is all dark, carved woods, wrought iron, high ceilings, and this old world charm that makes me want to put a big poofy dress on and call out to the butler when I’m receiving guests. There is a special area and screen for where the musicians would perform for parties. How cool is that? AND the Bishop Palace survived storms that knocked out most of Galveston. They just don’t build houses like that anymore.
Since this city is on the Gulf coast, of course you have to visit the beach and the Pirate Museum!!! Come on…it’s pirates. It’s totally cool even if you might think it’s cheesy. Go. You know you want to. Arrr….
I never thought I’d find Houston to be a cool place to hang, but I’d say it’s not so bad. Just don’t get trashed and go skipping through someone’s lawn while the sprinklers are on.