Houston, Texas

We encounter an angel today. Veronica is her name and she is the Manager at the Homewood Inn and Suites, the sister property of the Wingate by Wyndham where we are staying. Veronica was driving the shuttle bus that picks us up at the airport.  It is not too often we meet a Manager willing to step into the front line, but Veronica’s shuttle bus driver is sick so she is driving today. We tell her that we want to catch the bus downtown and by the time we check into the hotel we miss the bus.  Veronica offers to drop us at the bus stop, we hop into the shuttle and chase the bus along the route until we pass it, Veronica lets us out at the next stop in time to catch the bus.  We are so delighted we met this angel. If you ever need to spend the night in a Houston airport hotel, pick the Homewood Inn and Suites or the Wingate by Wyndham Bush Intercontinental, the staff are superb!

We walk from downtown to the Menil Collection.  It isn’t too far and the areas we walk through are just like a Canadian city. Safe, not too much traffic, hardly any pedestrians or noteworthy architecture but there is the occasional piece of intriguing street artwork.

Houston Street Artwork

Houston Street Artwork

The Menil Collection is five buildings on about a 3 block by 5 block area. The main building houses most of the collection.  The Surrealism exhibit is stunning with pieces by Ernst, Magritte, Duchamp and Picasso.  The Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall is a work of blue, pink, green, yellow fluorescent lights.  I showed a pic of it on the blog previously.  The surprise is the Byzantine Fresco Chapel which is a modern building outside and a thirteenth century byzantine chapel inside. What makes this chapel exceptional is the use of thick glass panels to represent the walls and dome of the chapel. (I (Murray) think this place is a highlight. The small chapel outlined by the glass panels and the way it is lit has a captivating effect. We stand and sit for a long while before we move on.) A must see.

Walking over US Highway 59Walking over US Highway 59

We walk further and pop into The Museum of Fine Arts.  We walk through an exhibit of Jules Olitski. He is from Russia and concentrated on large works that focused on the use of colour.

Across the street we visit the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and view an exhibit called “The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991” which are works created by only women.

Supper is at a restaurant called Natachee’s.  Located on Main St, it is a diner like eatery with concrete floors, old booths and wooden tables and the radio turned up loud to a 70’s rock station. The music is the Moody Blues, Motown, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones. We eat a burger and a pulled pork bunwich.

The walk back downtown is quick and the wait for the bus long.

This our first day on the road and we have slipped back into ‘travel mode’ quickly and easily. We had planned to visit Menil Collection and managed to see a good portion of Houston’s gallery district. We had made plans on how to get downtown on public transit and they worked to perfection. We thought we might be able to find a place for supper around the gallery district and voila, several small bistro type establishments materialized. I hope the rest of the trip runs as flawless as today.

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