Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Out and about in Houston

      After my first trip to America's fourth largest city, I found it to be a lively and stylish cosmopolitan town that effortlessly blends Western and Southern heritage and style. Houston has been one of America's great boomtowns and is recognized worldwide for its energy industry—particularly for oil and natural gas—as well as for biomedical research and aeronautics. The energy of the city is not just based in petroleum, but the warm and friendly people who lend their own kind of energy make it a fun place to hang and make some new friends.

Houston acts as a cultural capital bridging the South and Southwest, with some of the best museums in the country. Cultural highlights include the Menil Collection, with works by Warhol, Leger, and Picasso and is within walking distance of the Rothko Chapel. The Chapel contains 14 large-scale Mark Rothko paintings and a peaceful reflecting pool and plaza; and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, which showcases two 13th-century frescoes rescued from war-torn Cyprus. Not far from there is The Museum of Natural Science, with tons of educational exhibits and that it boasts a 25,000 square foot rainforest with butterfly garden, a 3-D IMAX theatre and a planetarium.

The downtown area is a trendy district of restaurants, clubs, shops, condos, hip hotels, and an architecturally stunning baseball stadium.  Other central Houston neighborhoods, including gay-popular Montrose and up-and-coming Midtown area are definite places to visit and spend some time. A trip here would not be complete without visiting The Galleria, the biggest shopping mall in Texas, is a must do. Just make sure you remember where you parked cause it is really really big and you can get really lost.

The Houston gay scene is centered in Montrose, an attractive neighborhood a couple of miles southwest of downtown, with a mix of early 20th-century homes and cottages and newer pockets of condos and apartments. The gayborhood's epicenter is where Westheimer Road crosses Montrose Boulevard, and you're within walking distance of countless gay bars and gay-friendly restaurants and stores where one can purchase a drink or two then if things go well maybe some Boy Butter lubricants, which you can even find at the local Walgreens pharmacy. There is a place in my heart for Houston and I can easily find myself going back again and again.
The Museum of Natural History
T-rex on the loose

The Rothko Chapel
The Menil Collection, an amazing museum with a free entrance
The Galleria, or the massive mall o'Texas
Shalom Y'all, entrance to the Jewish Community Center of Houston

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