There was very little we knew about Houston other than that NASA’s space centre is there. As much as I (Gwynnie) love space, we decided that it wasn’t worth the money to visit and that as we were only in town for a day we should spend it walking around and seeing some of the sights. Locals also told us that it wasn’t really that good, although in retrospect perhaps it would have been worth it.
We arrived in Houston late on the evening of day 6, and after a 20-point-turn into a
parking spot after accidentally driving the wrong way up a one way street, I was very happy to be reunited with Summer, a friend who lived in Prague when I was there in 2011-2013 (we actually did our TEFL course together in 2011)! She and her boyfriend were very kind and had prepared us some delicious, healthy burgers and salad, which they cooked on a grill by a swimming pool that was part of their apartment complex in Midtown. The area itself was very cool, with bars and restaurants dotted along the pavement (sidewalk).
We wandered around a few areas the next day. Westheimer is a long street dotted with shops, bars and restaurants. It seemed very pleasant, apart from a homeless man who shouted at us “come here and I’ll smash your face, ho!” at which point we calmly crossed the street to the other side and kept walking. Agora coffee, themed with Greek paintings and statues, was a quiet, chilled spot with plugs and spotty Wifi where we sipped iced coffee and updated our blog.
Then, we walked up onto W Grey Street to look for food, and came across Boston Market –
a chain of supposedly healthy, organic, non-GMO chicken. For $20 you can have two meal deals, each one with unlimited drinks, a cookie or brownie, meat, corn bread and two sides. We had chicken with various sides – mac & cheese, stuffing, some kind of zucchini (courgette) casserole and creamed spinach. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to even think about this food now without feeling sick (you’ll see why in a minute).
We decided to stroll for a bit along the Buffalo Bayou, the river that meanders through Houston. There’s a nice park along it, where we saw a lot of joggers in very small clothes, a bridge that houses a colony of bats, and a dog park. By this point, Anna started to feel a bit weak and needed to stop and lie down a lot. We thought it was sunstroke.
Some people had mentioned Market Square Park as being a big, happening part of Houston, so we decided to take an Uber to save time (and it was pretty hot). When we got out, we saw a small patch of grass with some tables and chairs on it, and thought we must be in the wrong place. However, it turned out that we were in fact at the famous Market Square; it sometimes hosts markets or events, but it was pretty empty today, apart from a handful of customers at Niko Niko’s, the Greek cafe out on the grass.
Feeling a bit exhausted, we headed back to the house, where our kind hosts were making us another delicious dinner. Anna started feeling a bit too sick to eat it, but she tried to soldier on. Later that evening, we met with a friend of a friend who lives in Houston. He was lovely, and after bonding over a mutual love of show tunes and karaoke, he took us to JR’s Bar and Grill, a popular gay bar in town.
We had a drink, chatted to our new friend, and watched a bit of amateur drag lip-synching. I was also encouraged to shove a dollar down the pants of a man in tiny red shorts who was dancing on stage; I figured, why not. As lovely as the evening was, I also started feeling a bit weird and wanted to get back. Then, out of nowhere, we were both ill and I spent a very rough night with what I can only guess was food poisoning. It was rough, and we tried to attack it with some charcoal tablets from Anna’s mum and some Pepto Bismol that I’d picked up in a 7-11 (but what IS that stuff!? Cherry flavouring and talc?).
After a rough, almost sleepness night, I finally managed to keep something down at 10.30am, and by 1 we felt good enough to drive onwards to New Orleans..!