houston and sugar land

we spent a [sugary sweet] long weekend in houston and the nearby suburb of sugar land, expanding our knowledge of texas cities beyond rgv, san antonio and austin.
this was in celebration of our 5TH wedding anniversary - and as i told j, i feel like we're "legit" married now. while i know only the first year counts as the "newlywed" period, any time prior to this when someone asked how long we'd been married my answer always sounded so feeble. "2 years! 4 years!" i usually couched it with "but we've been together for 8 years total, [and now 10 total!]" to temper the cutesyness of it all, but 5 years of marriage is the first "year" that i've felt has some heft to it. anyone who has been married for 5 years hasn't just been floating around on a puffy honeymoon cloud - there's some real life that had to have happened in that period. [too real.]

as for our trip itself: i absolutely adored the sugar land area, while j dubbed it slightly "sterile." after a bit i saw what he meant. compared to other places we've visited this year, the parks are more "parks and rec" as opposed to the rougher wilderness/hiking trails of other parks, the city is squeaky clean, perfectly spaced, and you can see the planning and thought that went into the careful creation of houston and the surrounding burbs. [which i thought was just peachy.] sterile, superiorly planned metros suit me just fine, and we would move here in a heartbeat. and as the name implies - everything in sugar land was overly sweet. maybe it was my imagination but the food, the tea, everything was coated in a light layer of borderline-diabetic-coma-inducing sugar. it was awesome in its own way.

our other conclusion was that houston does get somewhat of a bum rap. the city is often kind of snubbed in favor of the food and culture in san antonio and austin - but after this trip i can't say the latter two are better...they're just different. houston is larger, seems to have a much better museum and art scene, and the restaurants are nothing to sneeze at. if anything, i'd say houston is almost more...refined than the other two. more upscale. it's also definitely far more southern as compared to the western vibes in san antonio and austin, which was a nice change of pace. 

i also think what contributes to the idea that houston isn't as desirable is that the city isn't set up as a tourist destination as much as the others. for example, it's real easy to know nothing about san antonio, but understand you should probably head for the riverwalk and alamo. and when in austin it's a cinch to trip up congress street to the food trucks, boutiques, murals and other hipster stops, which are all located within walking distance of each other. whereas in houston you need to work ever so slightly harder to find things to see and do, and given the size of the city you'll need to plan pretty well - houston is nothing if not vast.

some of our favorite parts of our visit included walking the museum district, biking through buffalo bayou park (which was gorgeous, even if i don't have many photos of it), catching some local dragonboat races, dinner at jupiter waffle and pizza co. [zomg. they might just be my favorite chicken and waffles ever], chocolate peanut butter pie at the middle spoon, and the general convenience of staying in sugar land plaza. our first married "home" was an apartment above an almost identical area in tampa, where we could roll out of bed and walk downstairs to starbucks, or to lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants in the plazas below. sugar land plaza had the exact same set up, and reminded us of those newly married days. this was especially awesome given that i was a little under the weather for the trip, so i love, love, loved just walking around, shopping a bit, and then grabbing coffee to sip outside at a nearby cafe and being able to pop back upstairs for a nap whenever i'd had enough. we couldn't have asked for better weather either - it was a completely perfect weekend. 

cheers to 5 years!