A May 2000 trip
to Houston by reef2020
Quote: East Texas is bayou country — hot and steamy. Don't let that deter you, though. Its more than the weather that's hot in this town!
One of the neatest — and cheapest — things we did was to simply drive around the city on Interstate 610. Rising abruptly from the surrounding land, Houston's skyline offers a rare opportunity to view it from 360 degrees around.
If you are like me, you think of Houston as being more "desert" than "ocean," but it isn't too far from the coast, and the best grilled tuna steak anywhere is at Baba Yega, in Montrose. After dinner, there are lots of bars and clubs in the neighborhood, so you can park your car and have a great evening here.
There are two major airports in Houston: Hobby is south of town, and Intercontinental is north. You may be able to get less expensive flights by flying into one rather than the other, so check it out. You may also want to choose your airport based on proximity to the part of town you're visiting. Hobby is smaller and, I think, easier to get around in.
We stayed at the Radisson Astrodome Convention Center, and they offered a free courtesy shuttle to some of the nearby restaurants, so if you are attending a convention, you'll be able to get a bit further afield, but I still recommend a car to get the full flavor of the city.
Hotel | "Radisson Hotel Astrodome Convention Center"
We stayed in the lower, motel-style section which surrounds a beautifully landscaped pool area, complete with gazebo and waterfall. Our first room was WAY at the back of the hotel, but we asked to be switched because there were so many mosquitos in the room, and because it was so humid there was actually water running down the walls! The desk staff was very helpful, and quickly moved us to a room closer to the main tower, directly overlooking the pool. After that, everything was great.
We stayed here to attend a country-western dance convention, so what made this a really great location was the HUGE wooden dance floor that gave everyone room to dance without bumping into one another. Rumor has it that it is the largest dance floor in the state, and the fact that it often took a full song to get around the floor once is testament to that!
Nearby are a variety of restaurants that aren''t too bad a walk, but the hotel offers courtesy shuttle drop off and pickup within a radius of several miles, so even if it is sweltering outside, you''ll have easy access.
The Astrodome is directly across the street, and Six Flags Astroworld amusement park is a 15 minute walk via a skybridge that crosses the Interstate Highway. Both of these facts make it a great place for a convention, and if there is no convention around, and nothing doing at the Astrodome, the rates are quite affordable.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 31, 2001
Crowne Plaza Hotel Houston Medical Center
8686 Kirby Drive
Houston, Texas 77054
Attraction | "Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum"
In 1983, The Menil Foundation, one of the primary benefactors of the arts in Houston, received photographs of the frescoes broken into nearly 40 pieces. They were destined to be sold individually, forever destroying the beauty of the whole. After considerable research into their origin, the Foundation worked with both the Church and Government in Cyprus, and paid the ransom for the stolen pieces. A painstaking three-year restoration was undertaken in London, while the museum itself was designed in Houston.
It was important to all involved that the frescoes be displayed in a spiritual context, but one with a fresh, new meaning. The architecture of the building achieves that beautifully. Using the concept of the reliquary box (a container used to house sacred objects — think Raiders of the Lost Ark), the unassuming plain gray concrete exterior gives little hint of what is inside. The frescoes are placed as they would have been in the church, but the church is made of freestanding glass panels, beautifully lit so as not to take away at all from the ancient artworks. Surrounding the entire glass chapel is a suspended steel reliquary box, providing not only appropriate darkness, but a sense of the sacred as well. Between the box and the gray concrete walls, sunlight streams down from skylights high above. Stand at the edge and look up to see sky above; step into the box and you see nothing above but infinity.
It is truly difficult to explain the interplay of light and dark in this building. While the frescoes are definitely the museum's focus, I felt that the architecture stole the show. A simple little side garden with a stream flowing into a waterfall in the lobby completes the complex.
It is often the simplest things that are the most moving, and the thought and attention to detail in this building provide an elegant example of that.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 22, 2001
Byzantine Fresco Chapel
4011 Yupon Street
Houston, Texas 77006
Wilton Manors, Florida