Been back a week now and still haven't written anything about Texas....
We decided that we wanted to see parts of America that weren't on the coasts, so headed for 10 days in Texas, hiring a car and spending time in Houston, Austin and San Antonio, with some drives out to the country.
Each of the cities are very different. Houston is business-centred with a fair bit of old oil money splashing about, Austin is laid-back and studenty, and San Antonio is very Mexican. All three had plenty to offer and lots to see, and in such a short visit we couldn't do everything.
1. Texas really is very big. So are the buildings, and the people. It was nice to feel relatively slim!
2. Not everyone in Texas is a right-wing Republican. OK, most are, but not in Austin, and both San Antonio and Houston have a Democratic presence as well.
3. There are places in Texas which really are a lot like the places you see on the Western movies
4. Texas has a very strong independent identity, as strong as the American one, certainly
5. The food portions are vast. See 1.
6. The Space centre in Houston is fantabulosa. They dress their staff up in pastel blue indoor space suits similar to those worn by astronauts. making a young man who must have weighted 30 stone is tantamount to cruelty. See 1 and definitely 5.
7. Best places we ate in each city - Houston, either Mark's American Cuisine or Brennan's. Austin - go to the Salt Lick barbecue or the Texas Chili Parlour. Not a fine dining city. San Antonio, the wonderful Le reve
8. We enjoyed out day out in the Hill Country around Fredericksburg. Some very good wineries in Texas ( did you know Texas made wine?) 80% of people there voted for Bush.
9. We visited an underground cave where one of the young men working there - about 19, I'd say - told us he had never been outside Texas and had been no further than Houston - once! This is an hour or so from the Mexican border!
10. Best museum - Austin's Texas State History museum. First class.
11. Best place we stayed - the Hotel Icon in Houston was excellent.