So we had had a great week in Los Angeles but it was time to move on. LA to Houston was my first solo flight with 2 kids so more nerves set in for this one. Thankfully we had so many United miles from when we lived in Houston, we could fly business class for about $25!
How the other half travel
I’m normally not that bothered about business class on short haul flights but quick check-in and skipping the security queues at security was a godsend especially with a sick Thing 1 in tow.
I was worried that since we left Houston (4 years ago), I had built it up to be something it was never going to live up to. I’m happy to say it absolutely lived up to all expectations. I think it helped that, if anything, this part of the trip was less touristy than the LA leg. There really isn’t that much to do from a tourist perspective so this really was ALL about seeing people. We are lucky enough to know 10 or 12 families who still live in the Houston area and we hadn’t seen most since we left. Some of them we had known since we moved there, some were mummies who I had spent lots of time with after Dylan was born and some were former colleagues and clients. I was beyond excited to see everyone!
Things to do
Houston has so many gorgeous playgrounds and parks dotted around the city. Fondest in my memories is Memorial Park. It was the first place I went for a walk in with some friends. Later, as we lived so close to it we would take the dog for walks there. Eventually Thing 1 was also a feature on the walks. Staying in the Heights meant there were a bunch of parks around for us to choose from. Milroy Park and Donovan Parks were both hits with my Things.
Children’s Museum of Houston
I wasn’t sure about coming to Children’s Museum of Houston as I had heard it gets busy with school visits. I had an absolute blast following the Things around – they were in their element with so many activities available. We mainly liked the How Does It Work, Kidtropolis and Powerplay exhibits. I mast say, having been to Kidzmondo / Kidzania in the Middle East, that Kidtropolis was a bit underwhelming. However, the Things thought no such thing and I had to drag them away just to make sure they ate lunch!
My Things are massive fans of soft plays so a day where it was chucking down with rain was perfect to head to Wonderwild with friends. Boasting a massive bounce area, slides and cars to ‘drive’, we were happy for ages. As always the biggest struggle was convincing them all to leave…
It was such a relaxed week and it was nice not to be rushing around trying to do anything other than catch up with people. We had great fun playing in friend’s gardens and houses and swimming pools and I was thrilled with how quickly the Things slotted into life with our old Houston friends. It was almost as if Thing 1 remembered his former baby playmates and I was happy to slip straight back into old habits chatting with my friends as if we had never been away.
It’s amazing how being in other peoples houses can keep boredom at bay. It does, of course, help when said people have kids the same age! My favourite was one evening after dinner we all ended up on the golf course behind their house playing with the kids.
Easter Egg Hunt!
Not specific to Houston but we had huge fun on an Easter egg hunt with our friends. What a way to spend the morning while we waited for it to be time to go to the airport.
Amazing places to eat
I took a trip down a culinary memory lane this week. Every place held lovely memories as well as delicious food. You will see that 60% of my list is Tex-Mex… When we lived in Houston we literally had a different place to go to depending on the craving! Breakfast tacos? Go to Torchys. Fish Tacos? Go to El Rey. And so on… We didn’t have time to go everywhere but I definitely got my fix. Here’s where we went:
This place has the food I miss the most from Houston! Lupe Tortilla is indisputably the best steak fajitas on the planet. The day we arrived our friends asked what I had been craving… Spot the former expats who know the questions to ask! We got takeaway from Lupe that very night and went back with other friends and the kids another night. I love everything about Lupe – the laid back atmosphere is perfectly relaxed. Drinking margaritas and eating chips, salsa and borracho beans with friends while you wait for your table brought back so many fun memories for me. I know there are many Facebook friends here in the Middle East who very nearly unfollowed me that week based purely on Lupe envy!
Formerly Mission Burrito, this place does the BEST burrito bowls and the spicy avocado ranch dressing is to die for. After Thing 1 was born, a friend used to bring me a shrimp burrito bowl and I would devour it every time! Another trip down memory lane saw us go back with the same friend.
Berryhill in the Heights
Our favourite shrimp tacos came from Berryhill and S and I would come pretty regularly for lunch in the week and at weekends. I took the Things for lunch, let them choose chicken nuggets (seriously – heathens) and grinned as Thing 1 devoured the chips and salsa.
A trip to Texas is simply not complete without eating BBQ. The very same friends who first introduced us to BBQ also took us to Corkscrew BBQ for lunch and it was amazing. The beef brisket was melt in your mouth delicious and the pulled pork was…well any pork products are amazing at the best of times, even more when you live somewhere where it isn’t readily available.
With Mr Wanderlust only in town for a weekend, the only way to get together with as many people as possible was to get space in a bar and ask people to come to us. (This was much more fun back in the day before we spent the entire time chasing after small Things). Still, Cottonwood was super accommodating for us, setting up an area for us and providing us with a very attentive waitress. The food was great and the atmosphere was fun and relaxed on a Saturday afternoon. The next-door park was a salvation for distracting the many children who came with their parents to see us.
Huge thanks to all our old friends who made the effort to see us the week we were back in Houston. We will be back for sure.