Spoiler alert: big cities in the States are not built for pedestrian tourism. That might not be true for all of them, but it sure as hell is for Houston.
I went to the most populous city in Texas with two friends this weekend. We didn’t see a lot of people considering that the population is about 2 million, which I found especially surprising seeing as we were there over the weekend.
We took the Greyhound from Baton Rouge to Houston. It took about 5.5 hours on average and considering the distance, it wasn’t too expensive. The seats were comfortable (for a bus) and there were sockets so we could keep our phones charged and avoid talking to one another. Jokes, we actually got along. Kitty bought a huge pillow in Target before we went back, so we shared that. 10/10 would recommend.
This is the bus system in Houston. It was pretty decent and could take you pretty much anywhere downtown and in the museum district, but we hadn’t done our research (or our planning) ahead of time, so we didn’t use it as much as we could have. Unless you have a car, I recommend you do that if you ever go.
Cost: $1.25 flat fare.
This was by far the least well-planned trip I’ve ever let myself go on, so transportation and sightseeing was a mess. University started the same week we went on this trip, so there was so much going on that planning just… didn’t happen. Uber saved us. I paid for all the trips (so now I get money back from the others) and was terrified to look at my bank balance when I got back, but it wasn’t too bad.
Cost: $60 altogether for 7 rides.
Buffalo Bayou Park
I’m used to Kelvingrove and the Botanics in Glasgow, so I found this park underwhelming. Green spaces are a big thing in European cities, so I was expecting to see the same sort of thing in Houston. Nope. Some of the other parks might be nice, but we didn’t have that much time (especially considering the size of the city).
In brief, Rothko chapel is a combination of a non-denominational chapel and a modern art exhibition. I don’t feel at home in places of worship because I always feel like I’m doing something wrong by being there. Much as I love the architecture in cathedrals and mosques (as you can see), it feels wrong for me to be there.
Rothko chapel was different. I was surprised to find myself completely at peace. I sat on the benches in there for a bit sending out grateful vibes to the universe and enjoying the fact that there was no one designated entity to pray to. It was nice to have the option to just reflect on life for a bit. I would definitely recommend going here, but if you aren’t familiar with Rothko, maybe look up his work beforehand.
I think this is the best art collection I’ve ever visited. There was a wide range of art being exhibited, so regardless of whether your style of choice is surrealism, modern, or ancient, you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes here. I loved the surrealist section – especially the Ernst and Magritte works.
The James Turrell Skyspace
At Rice University, there’s the James Turrell Skyspace, where you can watch a sunrise and sunset light sequence most days. The sequences are free to watch and you can choose between sitting upstairs and downstairs. It would have been nice to have some ambient music (and to be allowed to put your feet up on the wall), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It isn’t a big fancy sequence with flashing lights; it’s more of a colour a transition sequence that goes well with the rising or setting sun.
Just like Rothko chapel, this relaxed me. It was wonderful to watch the sunset in such a unique way – the hole in the middle gives you a view of the sky and I thought it was cool to watch the artificial colours change as the natural colour of the sky changed. I shot a time lapse, but alas I’m using free WordPress.
Food and Drink
I wish I could say we went for drinks, but I’m 20 and honest about my age, so the closest thing to an alcoholic beverage I came in contact with was hand sanitiser.
The Burger Joint (1003 California St)
I’m not a burger expert, but I’ve had quite a few of them in my two decades in this world and damn the ones we got here were comparatively good. I had a classic burger and added bacon and avocado to it and boy howdy was that yummy. You can never go wrong with the classics and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Agora (1712 Westheimer Rd)
We stopped for coffee at two different places while we were in the city. This one was my favourite of the two because it was quite different. It’s spread over two levels (linked by the Steepest Stairs™ of all time) and decorated with Greek – in want of a better word – stuff. Their peanut butter cookies were dipped in chocolate, which is an idea I’ll most likely borrow in the foreseeable future.
Minuti Coffee (909 Texas St)
The staff members at Minuti were incredibly nice. They all called me ma’am, which I’m not a huge fan of because it makes it sound like I know what I’m doing with my life. It’s unintentional and unnecessary pressure. Nevertheless, the people were nice and the coffee was delicious.
Tacos a Go Go (3704 Main St)
We were supposed to go to the Space Center on Sunday, but didn’t realise that the buses weren’t going out that way, so we planned the day around food instead. We went to Tacos a Go Go and had some pretty decent food for a pretty decent price, so I was happy. It’s not really near anything, but somewhere along the line, distance stopped mattering. I blame the size of Houston and our Uber dependency.
Houston International Hostel
You get what you pay for and in this case, we paid for a room that had no compartments to store bags in and no lockable door. It was exactly what you would expect from a hostel though, so I’m satisfied. All I’m looking for when I book a hostel is a bed to sleep in (unless I’m travelling alone in which case I’m also looking for a bit of social activity) and Houston International Hostel delivered.
Houston is huge and I’m disappointed in myself for not having planned the trip better. I’m not one to go somewhere without even a vague plan, but all I had for Houston was a list of a couple of things I’d like to see and do. If you want to hit up the city, I recommend either doing your research when it comes to the bus routes or using a car if at all possible. Man, I wish I had a car. It was a bit of a trai
I have another trip coming up soon, in Louisiana this time. Might go back to Texas while I’m still in the States, but seeing as I have friends in other states around the country, I’m not sure I’m going to make Texas a priority. That being said, I’ve heard good things about Austin and San Antonio. Only time will tell.