Houston in Texas is famous for Dr Nowzardan’s weight loss surgery clinic. It is here that he helps morbidly obese people to lose weight with the help of a gastric by-pass or a sleeve. Although I love the show, I visited Houston for an entirely different reason. I am a fan of cowboy movies and I love the wild west which is what brought me here.
Houston is also a big business center for the energy industry. So, if you are here doing business then why not turn your visit into a bleisure trip? You could extend your visit by a day or two and spend some time at the local space center, the holocaust museum or various other art exhibitions and galleries.
Getting to Houston, Texas
British Airways flies to Houston direct from London and I paid £750 for a return flight. I spent my first night in Houston at the Marriott Energy Corridor, right next to I-10 Katy Highway. It had great reviews and they recently renovated the hotel, so I didn’t think twice before booking it. I’ve always dreamed of staying in a hotel by the freeway, with views of the traffic rushing past. Most American soaps have shots of skyscrapers, the city sky-line and the freeway or the airport and I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to see this in real life.
Luckily I had quite a few points from my business trips so I decided to book my first free night here. The hotel was great – it smelt super fresh and clean as if they built it yesterday. I paid for the night using my Marriott points, which made it feel even more special!
The Houston Energy Corridor
The Houston Energy Corridor is what many of the world’s most powerful energy companies call home. According to the neighborhood’s website, energy is more than a vital natural resource here. “It’s a unique, vibrant force that has empowered more than 300 multi-national, national and local companies to flourish.”
I got there quite late, around 10pm because I went for a drive around downtown first. I did not have a map of the city so I had to just use my internal brain-GPS to get to the hotel. Fortunately, it was fine as the road network is so logical. In retrospect, everything else seemed to be so common sense in Texas. I memorized the map with the main arteries before the plane took off so that helped too.
Things to Do in Houston
Visit the Space Center in Houston. The Space Center is the official visitor center for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s center for human spaceflight activities. The center is open every day and tickets are from $29.95 for adults and you can easily spend 2-3 hours here.
Spend an hour in the Houston Gallery of Modern Art. The Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston is a not-for-profit institution in the Museum District presenting contemporary art of our time to the public. Admission is free and a visit will last about one hour.
The Houston Holocaust Museum is in the Museum District and it opened in 1996. The museum is the fourth largest Holocaust memorial museum in the United States. Admission is $12 and a visit should last about 2 hours.
Spend 2-3 hours shopping at the Galleria Shopping Mall in Downtown Houston.
The Houston Waffle House
The next morning I checked out and started to make my way to League City to visit my friend Heather from ICIS. On the way there I stopped to have breakfast at a Waffle House. I used to eat at a Waffle House in Columbia, MO with my friends from uni, hence the visit. The Columbia Waffle House was outside town, open 24/7, and when clubs closed everyone ended up there.
Breakfast was huge as everything else in Texas, but I was starving so I finished it all. Nobody else left anything on their plates and like the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!
I drove downtown after breakfast. Again, parking was difficult so I drove on – I was planning to spend the last day in Houston anyway. By this time I managed to fix my phone so I had GPS. I had a Three sim card and they have a special bundle called “Feel at Home”. It includes the same minutes, messages and data at no extra cost in the US. Thanks to this, I was able to use the GPS wherever I went. I always set the driving options to toll free and off the freeway, so I got to see things instead of driving on the interstate.
I met Heather at her church (it was Sunday). The service was just about to start – and it was just something else. Nothing like in Europe where people sit lined up, all quiet and listening to the priest. They were singing, doing a couple of christenings and at the end the pastor stood at the hallway so that anyone who wanted to could talk to him.
After the church we had lunch at Heather’s place. David, her husband made us some deep fried chicken strips with waffles and syrup. It might sound like a strange combination but it tasted amazing, I still think about it sometimes! Heather’s house was just huge, but apparently that’s the “normal” size in the US.
Heather lived in League City, which is a typical suburb of Houston. According to the town’s website, by 1914, League City was on its way to becoming a dynamic community. With a population of 500, the town was regularly serviced by four railroads, one of which was the Galveston-Houston Electric Railroad, known as the “Interurban”. These transportation venues were instrumental in creating a thriving commercial district in League City.
The 2015 Mustang
I used my Avios points to rent a convertible Mustang to enjoy the desert sun. In the previous year I rented a Mustang in California and really enjoyed it. This time I got the latest model, the 2015 convertible with all the latest gadgets. I couldn’t believe but everyone seemed to be commenting on my car wherever I stopped. Some guys at the red, others at the gas station, shop car park – anywhere! They were like: nice car, is it a new one? Is it the latest? Drives fast, right? Another proof that they just love cars, especially if they are fast. Here is a riddle: What likes to eat but puts no weight on? – the answer is in the caption of the last image below.
After lunch it was time for me to head out to the wild south as the weather was getting better and even the sun came out. But more about that in my next post.
This video below was shot by Brian Makse, explains everything about the car.
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