Houston, the Space City
To better understand the sprawling city of Houston, one has to live alongside its inhabitants, hear their marked accents, deal with their strong characters, and plunge themselves in the contrasting Texan culture.
Proud of its culture, Houston is the largest city in the State of Texas. It is fiercely anchored in Texan folklore, with rodeos, country music, ranches and mythical cow-boys. And yet, it would be a shame to reduce the city to this quaint imagery. Because if the legend stays alive, the city is absolutely turned towards the future.
Founded in 1836, Houston is one the youngest cities in the United States and it never stopped growing. Just look at the downtown skyline or visit contemporary art museums to get a sense of it. The city enjoys thrilling cultural development, a result of a unique melting pot and a very young population which came to study in the various universities and specialised institutes.
Don't expect walking around Houston. Oil is king here, and each city district spreads over dozens of miles. Driving is therefore the easiest way to get around. Just remember that, as the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas.
Though every district in Houston has its own character, some of them are must go-to places: Montrose is the arty neighbourhood full of art galleries. River Oaks is riddled by huge houses owned by oil tycoons. Go Uptown for shopping and to the Heights for its excellent restaurants. Of course, Museum district is the city's cultural centre.
Houston is also well known for being the starting point of the American space exploration. How could we possibly forget the famous “Houston, we've had a problem here” line, uttered in 1970 by the Apollo 13 crew? NASA opened part of its site to the general public as it was turned into a museum. You can immerge yourself in the glory days of the space race.
Only a few hours from Houston, New Orleans is the capital city of the adjoining State of Louisana and it is worthy of attention. So do not hesitate, and make a little detour to the one people call the Big Easy.