H-Town

Posted on April 8, 2009

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I traveled to Houston last week for work. Houston is generally a goodplace to go because it is a direct flight, the food is good, and it is a fairly lively place. Houston is chock full of large corporations and is a much larger city than I expected. The last census shows a population of 5.7 million, the sixth largest metropolitan area in the US. There is a strong Mexican influence which is reflected in the food and it is ordinary to hear Spanish being spoken on the street. Houston is a very international city and you can hear that in the accents that surround you. 21 percent of the population was born outside the US. The city is arranged in a grid pattern that is relatively easy to navigate. It is a classic American city as it has sprawling suburbs and bad traffic.

I did not have much time to look around much but I did compile a quick list of the things I like and dislike about Houston. On the plus side:
– The weather this time of year is fantastic. Tropical, moist, and warm.
– Houston has a positive energy about it, it makes you feel like something exciting is about to happen.
– Many great restaurants and food choices. Fantastic sushi, regional cuisines, creole, and BBQ.
– Houston is clean and the suburbs are full of interesting places to go. Being such a big city means that Houston has many distinct neighborhoods.

A few of the downsides of Houston are that:
– After 5pm, downtown empties out. There is not much life downtown at night.
– Hotel rates are very high downtown.
– Urban sprawl and mega-highways detract from the charm.
– The people are generally stand-offish. When I am there I know I am no longer in the midwest.
– The airport is boring, named after a president not worth remembering, and has few good places to eat.
– The weather in the summer would melt a Pennsylvania boy like me.
The former Enron building. You can see hurricane damage on the building on the left still evident from the storm during the summer of 2008.
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