My Houston Experience

Hey,

I hope you’re good? Thanks to a successful completion of my Law degree (praise God), I had some free time and with it came an opportunity to travel. My destination was Houston, Texas. I had a great time and I’ll share some of what I did while I was there.

I spent 13 days visiting family, relaxing and a lot of window-shopping with some purchases here and there. Someone mentioned that Houston is a ‘foodie town’ and I found that to be true during my stay as I ate out a lot (in my opinion, at least). I tried food, ice cream and doughnuts from a total of 13 places, and no, it wasn’t one a day. Like I said, Houston is a food town, so going out to eat is quite the norm and there’s so much variety.

Thankfully, I had people who are familiar with the area and were able to recommend places to eat. Some of the places I had stuff from were: Cafiza, Snooze (their sweet potato pancakes are so good), Reggae Hut Cafe, Hunky Dory, Shake Shack, Lee’s Fried Chicken, FatCat Creamery, Hugs and Donuts, Kitchen 713 (pause, think back, “bless the  hands of that chef, Lord”), Marble Slab Creamery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My cousin, her best friend and I drove to Austin to pick up her siblings and we had some food there too. There was this amazing doughnut place called Gourdoughs …that was the highlight of the Austin trip for me. If you’re ever in Austin, please make it a date. If you have to bookmark this page, it’s worth it 🙂

img_5103
Gourdough’s Big.Fat.Doughnuts.

I also did some thrifting, which I love to do, affordable clothes are just a delight. Thrifting helps me practice patience and remind myself of the fact that good things are sometimes hidden in unexpected places. I also don’t feel too bad for shopping since the clothes are more affordable than usual.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks to my adventurous brother, I went indoor skydiving at iFly and it was really exciting. I didn’t anticipate as much wind as I got but if I have the chance, I’ll probably do it again.

On my last day in Houston, I went to the Galleria, my cousin and I went ice skating. It was the first time for both of us but it was a lovely time. The initial plan for the day was to go to Kemah but it rained and that couldn’t happen. My forward thinking sister-in-law suggested going ice-skating and that’s was how we made good use of the day.

img_5374
Took me holding the rails for a while but I finally made it. Yay!

It was a fun time. I didn’t want to leave, but there’s a time and season for everything, innit? Looking forward to my next travel opportunity.

If you’ve been to Texas before, please share your experiences or any fun spots you visited.

Hugs and love from a satisfied traveler, MBW*

Advertisements

Dear Traveler

This is a true story of a lady’s travel experience earlier this month. I hope you pick up a few lessons from it. I share mine after the story:

After a few days meeting and bonding with her niece, her brother-in-law dropped her at the airport. Due to poor planning, she didn’t get to check-in online and thought she’d be able to do it at the airport. She arrived an hour before her flight was scheduled to leave ‪at 7.05p‬m.

She inquired about checking in, and was told it would cost her €45 for the service. Way to go, Ryan Air! Being as she was flying back to the UK and didn’t anticipate a need to spend at the airport, she didn’t have any euros but had some pounds, which is not accepted as tender in Köln. She was directed to a bank where she could change the money and then come back to pay. “But hurry,” the agent said, “you have limited time.”

At the bank counter, she asked how much £40 would get her. “That would be (clicks calculator buttons) €37.” With a look of desperation, she asked, “Is that all I can get? I need €45.” At this point, she could feel the tears coming. She had a feeling this would happen since she didn’t check in online as she usually would have. He paused and pressed some more buttons, “the most you can get is €42.” Ok, she thought. That’s better than thirty seven.

Now with some tears having pushed through the barriers of her eyes and coming down her cheeks, she asked, “please can you spare €3 of your own money? I really need €45 to pay for my check in. Please.”
She showed him the slip she’d been given at the counter with her name and some abbreviations with boxes beside them, only one checked, but not the required amount to be paid. Still, somehow, she hoped it’ll help.

He handed her the €42 and a receipt, then got his wallet, confirmed how much she needed and gave her €3. “Thank you”, she said through tears. More than anything, she was moved that this stranger saw the truth in her eyes and allowed himself to believe in her. Angels still walk the earth, she thought.

Putting herself together, she headed back to pay at a different counter where she was given a receipt, after which she went to finally get this service. The agent made a phone call and then said to her, “I’m sorry, Ma’am, the flight is now closed”. Her head was spinning. This people sent me on a wild goose chase only to tell me I can’t go?
“What? Wait. Please. You have to help me. But I’m here and the plane is still here. Please. It’s only‪ 6.35pm.‬”
“I’m sorry Madam, there’s nothing I can do. I’ve called my supervisor and checking in is closed. It closes 40 minutes before departure.” She was disappointed.

She was directed to see his colleague “over there” for more information about alternative flight options. There was another in 2 hours that would cost €100 and there was yet another the evening of the next day which would cost €26 if it was booked online.

She weighed her options: getting her brother-in-law to come back and make the airport trip again the next day to drop her off versus just going with the next one. Plus this is a new daddy who should be bonding with his princess not making unnecessary airport trips.

On the other hand, she had another trip in two days after which she had to get back to the UK to catch. Going with the €26 option on the evening of the next day would truncate her plans. She decided it was better to take the next available flight, which got her home a few hours later than planned, but at least on the same day.

Therefore, dear traveler, here are a few things to note, whether on your first trip or your fourteenth.

• Check-in Online
Set a reminder to check-in online, just in case you get so deep in errands that you forget or have a lot of last minute things to do. It saves you time and clearly, money.

• (Accessible) Vex money
This means extra cash, in case of an emergency. Having savings is a blessing, a MasterCard or some extra cash in hand is a brilliant idea. Take a bit more than you need in case something comes up.
If you have savings you can’t access on the proverbial ‘rainy day’, what’s the point?

• Do What You Need To
Do the needful. Step out of your comfort zone. Asking that man for €3 was probably not the easiest thing for the lady in the story, but when the going gets tough, fine girl swag goes out the window for a little while. Furthermore, you’re abroad, you’ll probably never see this person again so it’s okay.

•Ask Again
Notice also how she was offered €37 for £40, but ended up getting €42? Its not clear why the money merchant was trying to keep her fiver but by asking again, she wasn’t cheated.

I hope this story helps someone and hopefully saves you from having a similar experience. Do you have any travelling tips? Please share in the comment section.

Have a great day!
MBW

If in the Netherlands…

It was here again, a free space, a period of time consisting of some days within which I did not have to go to a room, sit and listen to someone who had been employed to daily fill me with academic knowledge for a period of three years, during which sometimes I would feel very much like listening and at other times like muting this employee. So I was grateful for this space and when it came, I was glad to embrace it, to make the best of it, to get away for the period and do something memorable.

Being in a small university with many nationalities represented, I had heard about many places to see: Bahamas, Morocco, Paris, Berlin, Malaysia, Mauritius, from those who lived there or had visited. I also heard about Amsterdam-the red light district, its many museums, the canals, the loads of tourists. I had some relatives in the Netherlands so I thought to make the best use of my time visiting.

A lot of the fun places to see in the Netherlands were in Amsterdam, which was not too far from where I stayed. There were other interesting places outside Amsterdam to see which made it tough choosing where to go. If you’re in Amsterdam, beware that there is a variety of beautiful sights and tourist attractions. You will be tempted to see a lot of different things and a part of you may feel like you actually can. This is a possible feat, depending on how long you are spending in the city as well as your budget. The price of museum tickets, boat rides or almost any other attraction are available online, which makes financial planning easy.

I had only a day in Amsterdam. I went to the Anne Frank House and though it seemed like a small building which I would tour in half an hour, it took two hours. This was excluding the thirty minutes I spent on the queue to get in: yes, a lot of tourists visit the house! It was very detailed, labelled rooms, letting you know which room belonged to who and video and audio recordings of some people who had known Anne Frank as well as some parts of Anne Frank’s diary. The use of cameras were not allowed but I saved my ticket stub.

Ticket Stubs
Ticket Stubs

I also took a boat ride that went on the waters of Amsterdam as the tour guide pointed out buildings and areas that were important or had some historic essence. The Amsterdam Light Festival was on at the time, so I saw beautiful art during the tour.

I found Louwman’s Museum when looking for places to see and Corpus was recommended to me. I decided to check them out. These are not in Amsterdam central, but they were definitely worth the ‘detour’ especially as they were on the same route. Louwman’s is an automobile museum, with vehicles from as far back as the early 1900s. It was easy to get around by public transportation, following the directions I got online. It’s a good idea to ask a local to cross check and inform you of a faster route if they know one.

IMG_2828
Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine 1928
IMG_2843
Rolls-Royce ‘Shooting Brake’ 1910
Toyoda AA (First Toyota Passenger Car) 1936
Toyoda AA (First Toyota Passenger Car) 1936
An interesting car from way back
An interesting car from way back
IMG_2834
World’s First 6-Cylinder Engine, 4-Wheel Drive, 4-Wheel Brakes

Corpus is a journey in the human anatomy. It takes you through the experiences in the human body, using real sounds to explain how essential organs work and how some processes are carried out in the body. It was a lovely experience, which I would especially recommend for young children as it is a fun approach to Science/Biology, as well as an insight on how their body works which they will not easily forget. There was a food court and a souvenir shop. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed here so I have no pictures.

The Royal Delft was another place I had been told about, it is the home of beautiful hand-designed ceramic. I got a few pictures from here:

IMG_2992

IMG_2971

IMG_2973

IMG_2962

IMG_2960

I had a good time touring around the Hague and Amsterdam. Please share if you’ve been to any of these places or somewhere else not listed above. It’ll be nice to hear your experience.

*MBW