A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

In honor of Valentine’s Day: A Romantic Trip Through Houston

Houston and romance do not seem to go together, but I thought that since I posted something about Chinese New Year, I could give this holiday a try. When discussing the topic with my wife, she suggested retelling the story of our first kiss. Should I tell them anything else I ask, any other firsts? It does bring up the fact that romance is personal, and the places where our memories lie have something special for us, but maybe not for others. Considering that my daughter insisted in being part of a hug that I gave to my wife before writing this post, I thought about family and romance too. My daughter also wants the family dog and her older brother to be a part of these hugs. Should a trip bring the family into the picture? If you have children around Valentine’s Day, you will understand my predicament.

I also am considering the expense of a romantic day. My wife, reading over my shoulder just now, says that no expense should be spared. So I should go into debt for this day, to prove my love? Of course she responds. I decide to start my journey in the Village. In the morning for breakfast, there are various coffee houses to sit down and relax with some pastry for breakfast. My two favorites are along Rice in the same strip center. One is French, while the other is Chilean (I think, there is a South American or Spanish flair to the place). I think that walking around this area is fun. You can window shop, as you stroll on a pleasant morning. My wife suggests that we go to the spa for some relaxation, but the kids do not approve. I was thinking of heading over to Herman Park, where on Saturday mornings the brides and quinceieras have their photos taken. That is always fun to watch, and maybe I could arrange for a photographer for us.

After a morning of browsing (alright, I admit, I do have shopping bags to load), I head up Kirby to Westheimer, and make a right. There are plenty of shops, particularly antique stores along the way towards downtown. More walking anyone? My wife rolls her eyes. We do stop for a bite to eat for lunch along this path. There are many nice places to tempt you. I like Alferedo’s European Grill on Montrose, just north of Westheimer, but this is simpler fare, and my wife wants a little more extravagance.

What to do in the afternoon? Could we relax in a downtown park taking in the sun? Maybe a movie at the Angelika dowtrown? Or if this is a Sunday, we might go to the matinee of a play. Houston’s dowtown has been changing in recent years. I remember when I worked for the symphony, I would get off late at night, and no one would be there. The police stopped trying to get me to walk on the sidewalk. I explained that the light was better in the middle of the street, so I could see any possible intruder. Downtown may not be the most convivial place, but there are nice spots. We walk around looking at the public art on display.

We do head back home to change for the evening, and I had the idea of a place to eat that evokes some romanticism in my mind, and it is very close to home. The restaurant Vargos does have some beautiful gardens, with a romantic dining area. It is on Fondren, again north of Westheimer. After our meal, we head downtown yet again. My wife has been reminding me that I have not taken her clubbing there. Not my thing really. I only have been when showing out of town guests. My wife looks me in the eye to state that she is from out of town. So am I was my response.

The night life has changed dramatically, but it is a mixed bag. Many bands are cover bands, who play to loud for conversation, and not well enough to impress at times. Maybe I am being a bit harsh. We try to suss out clubs with a live band playing some originals. I like the clubs that have jazz or R&B when it comes to creating a more romantic scene. As for a more jazz theme, we could head back to the Village. Ovations is a nice spot for some entertainment and romantic moods. We finally head back home around two am.

Our first kiss? Well, it was late one night in the Village, so that may have inspired part of this tale. What is a romantic get away for you?

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