Day 87 – San Antonio to Houston

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I planned the 200 miles trip from San Antonio to Houston to take us straight to Ray’s BBQ Shack, so I could pick up some BBQ! I’ve realised that we were about to leave Dallas without me having tried enough BBQ so researched where to eat in Houston, and came up with Ray’s! The trip to Houston was ok, but the roads in Texas that
we’ve driven have been pretty awful and very busy. I’m writing this as we’re driving through some utterly lush countryside in Florida and the driving in Dallas couldn’t be more different; with heavy traffic, lots of industrial looking towns and fast food chains and shops in every conceivable location. The good thing about that is that you can get something to eat and fill up the car very easily but at the same time it is just ugly and not anything to look at – and the drivers are totally insane – definitely something that also changes from state to state!
But I digresss. We made it to Ray’s with our trusted satnav, and it wasn’t too busy as it was past 2pm at that point (closer to 3pm I think?). Ray’s is essentially located in a shop on a Shell petrol station lot and you sort of have to know it is there to notice it. I got in line and ordered some brisket and rib tips, along with beans and deep fried corn on the cob, as well as a jacket potato with LOADS of cheese and butter. My order took only about 15 minutes which was a very acceptable timescale to wait for food and we got in the car to go and find our hotel. I wish I could have taken pictures in Ray’s as it was such a great and authentic place but it would have seemed rude and obnoxious to do that – but the place was buzzing with old and young people enjoying their BBQ, people getting takeways and the owner walking around chatting to people; a really great place actually.
Houston was another place where I struggled to find a decent hotel at a decent price and we ended up in the hospital quarter where there is a host of hotels catering for patients and families who need to be in the area for medical reasons. We found the Best Western Plaza Hotel and checked in and it seemed quite decent. We’ve stayed in quite a few Best Westerns and the quality varies greatly, so you’re not always guaranteed a good hotel with them! I wolfed down some great meat and potato while Brain researched what to do and see in Houston. All the offerings from Ray’s were great, but the deep fried corn on the cob must take the crown – absolutely glorious and I wished I had the foresight to order a lot more of it!
Our hotel was close to the metro, so after I had something to eat (Brian hadn’t eaten for about 2 days by this point, I have no idea how he does it!) we set off for the station. It was incredibly hot – and here the heat isn’t a dry heat, so the temperature paired with the moisture content meant we were sweating practically as soon as we walked out the door! Getting the metro to downtown Houston was easy and air-conditioned and we got off in the centre of town for our customary walkabout. To be honest, we didn’t see much in Houston worth taking pictures of and we clearly missed the point of Houston as it is another place that people seem to really like and we didn’t.
We walked around for an hour or so and then went to find some bars as there didn’t seem to be too much else to do (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!). We went into a bar called Springbok Bar (I had to!) first which was quite a nice place and they had some South African wine. We only stayed for one drink there and then moved on as I was sure there had to be more bars to explore! We went in an Irish bar, McElroy’s Pub which was ok as well. There were quite a few places that looked ok down the road, but eventually we ended up at Dean’s where we had a few drinks. It was a very nice place with some lovely leather armchairs and nice interior, but we ended up sitting outside with a beer and happy hour cocktails for me. We stayed for quite a while, just watching the locals wander by and relaxing – this is another town where there are quite a few homeless and/or dodgy looking people around the town centre, and a very visible police presence, all of which didn’t make us feel too safe! We didn’t stay in town too late and got back on the metro to the hotel; there was nowhere in the area around the hotel to have another drink at so we just went back to our room. The room was a bit like I imagine it would be like to be the Little Mermaid and live in the ocean – very clammy and the sheets actually felt wet getting into bed with the amount of moisture in the air! I didn’t have the most comfortable night but not much we could do about it!

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