Texas Stereotypes = False

Houston Travel Blog

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I flew into Houston during a downpour, the turbulence was intense to the point of one lady screaming. I am typically a great flier, but even I had the "death grip" on my seat. This wasn't your typical turbulence, at one point it felt as though we were falling for 15-20 seconds. We survived.

I arrived early evening, around 5pm to be exact. The rain made it difficult to do anything, and my hotels horrible and dangerous location didn't help. Fortunately, my co-worker I was supposed to meet downtown came home to change after getting soaked at the football game. That evening we decided to just have some beers at the hotel pub, where I got my first taste of Shiner Bock, a Texas brew that rivaled some of my favorites.

We spent a week in a course at the University of Texas, one of their satelite offices in Houston. The course was difficult but what I was not expecting was to actually meet people during this course. I've been to courses all over North America and rarely had more than a passing conversation. My goals are simple at courses, first it is to learn the content and second is to spend my evenings using this work trip as a way to travel and see the sights of the city I am visiting. Meeting people was an unexpected perk. 

So our first couple of nights were just me and my co-worker visiting the higher rated restaurants on Urban Spoon. We started with Texas BBQ and ended up going to Goode Company. We sat on the patio, with the decor and tree's surrounding us it was what I always expected from a texas bbq restaurant. The second night we went to Pappasita's mexican restaurant. The population of Houston is in large part Mexican. We enjoyed some top notch margarita's and enchiladas.

The third night we were joined by a girl from our class. That night we made it downtown for our first time and went to McCormick and Schmicks for some quality seafood. The patio was nice and we got to meet this amazing Columbian woman who happened to be working in my home city in Northern Alberta. We enjoyed some beers before heading back to our hotel a million miles away.

The last evening we visited the Flying Saucer pub with over 200 beers on hand. Our goal was to make it 5% of the way through the menu - you do the math. We made it, but regretted it the next morning. 

Our class ended and my wife arrived to spend the weekend in Houston, and area. Our first task was switching hotels. Our long stay in Gunspoint (Greenspoint) was over. We moved to the Hilton America's downtown in a great area surrounded by parks and amazing night life.

Our goal on this trip was pretty minimal; shopping, eating, drinking, and a beach day.

We managed to be very successful in all of those except the beach day. We discovered Galveston was hit by a recent hurricane and looked like it. The water didn't look exactly inviting and the strip was more deserted than I expected. Our trip there was short and sweet.

The shopping we did was at the Premium Outlet Mall just outside of Houston. I usually just go to those things for my wife, but this place had everything I needed.. An Ed Hardy outlet store.. WOW!! Just kidding. Seriously. I'm surprised that company hasn't went belly up yet, but Jersey still exists, so does Ed Hardy.

I managed to get a new winter coat, some sweaters, and t-shirts. I also managed to buy an entire Calphalon cookware set which I've wanted for years but didn't want to spend a fortune to buy. We got multiple pieces for less than a 25% of their regular prices. We had a whole box of goodies to take back with us. 

The eating and drinking was unbelievable. We usually eat well on our trips, but Houston was that southern comfort foods we weren't used to seeing. We were so close to the flying saucer that we ended more than one night there. 

The people of Texas were much different than I expected though. Coming from Alberta (affectionately known as Canada's Texas) I figured the people would be rude, loud, and obnoxious. After all the stereotypes about Texans states that. So when I heard my first "y'all" I figured "oh no, here it comes". Instead I was pleasantly surprised by how polite and helpful people were. Even the homeless would say "Thank you, have a nice day" when you didn't give them any change. Compared to the "f__k you a__hole" you get from the homeless in Canada for doing the same. At stores and even fast food restaurants the service is top notch. People seem like they actually care. In the Calphalon outlet store we met two ladies who went above and beyond to help us work out a credit card problem we were having and even boxed everything up for us to fly home with. 

Service at restaurants was no different. The Flying Saucer waitresses we had were without a doubt the best I've seen. They knew every one of the 200 beers on the menu and could give you accurate and detailed information. Their menu knowledge was perfect. Their table side manner was perfect and adaptable to everyone. I prefer informal chit-chat for the few seconds a waitress is there, and ours was very informal and friendly. But an older couple near us seemed a little more formal, and so was she. I thought our first experience there was a fluke to get the best waitress, but we returned 3 more times and every waitress we had was equally amazing.

Overall, Houston was a decent city but the people and the culture made it for me. To me culture is seen the easiest through their food and Houston's has some great restaurants. I understand why southern people are usually over weight, if I had that quality of food at my disposal I would also be over weight. Fortunately and unfortunately, I don't.

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