Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Houston - dinosaurs, butterflys and art (Throwback post)

Of course we didn't just drink and listen to music in Houston.  We were staying in the rather lovely Museum district, which logically enough is where the museums and galleries are.

We got along to the Museum of Natural Science and the Museum of Fine Arts for their free entry on Thursdays.
At the Science museum we had to pay to go into the butterfly house, but that was well worth it to see the multitude of beautiful butterflies in a great setting.

We also had to pay to get into the special exhibit, which was a showing of works by Faberge.  They were quite fabulous, with some of the famous eggs, and a large selection of his other pieces.

The museum itself, free after 3pm was excellent.  It had an amazing paleontology section, with a huge range of fossils and fossil replicas.  The great thing about it, aside from the sheer quantity of pieces, was the way that it was exhibited.

It was laid out in an interesting and easy to follow way, with the skeletons forming little tableaux, such as one dinosaur attacking the other, but alongside it would be a photographic representation of what this would have looked like with the landscape and the animals.

I really enjoyed it, and genuinely took an interest in reading the information, and that is often not the case.

We finished up with the fine arts, spending quite a bit of time in the Picasso exhibition.

Picasso is more Nic's thing than mine, but I was interested to seem broader range of work than I had expected, and there were even a  few that I actually quite liked.

The other visit was to the Rothko Chapel as we had heard it was a major thing to see.  Apparently the chapel, built by the Menils, was specifically designed to take a number of huge pieces of art by Mark Rothko, and is a multi-denominational chapel dedicated to peaceful meditation.

Were we impressed?  No. Definitely not.  For a start, I'm afraid I just don't appreciate art when it is something I could do myself.

These huge paintings were basically just grey/black with a hint of purple edging.  They supposedly have subtleties and nuances of colour, but it is entirely lost on me; I thought they looked dull, dreary, and demonstrated no discernible talent.

But perhaps I could have forgiven the disappointing art had the chapel itself made me feel peaceful and meditative.  It didn't.

It feels like a concrete bunker.  It is cold, and when we were there we noticed a distinct odor of urine.  We tried our hardest to be reflective and to understand what other people see in the place, but to no avail; we couldn't get out of there fast enough.

The one thing we did like there was the mirror pond outside, with the broken obelisk sculpture in memory of Dr Martin Luther king Jr.  That was far nicer, and with the reflecting water and the trees surrounding it, far more conducive to meditation and contemplation.
Near to the Chapel was the Menin Collection, which had some interesting art and installations.  The one that stood out for us was an installation about a collection being made in Benin for the 'poor white westerners, because we don't look after our own'.  As you can imagine, the general opinion was that this was the wrong way around, as it should be the rich west giving to the poor of africa.
Most locals initially were reluctant to give, especially those who seemed best off, but in fact they all did.  Some were actually shocked to hear that there was such a thing as a poor white person.  We found it fascinating, a little sad that the view of rich white westerners is so entrenched, and just a little humbling that people who had so little we prepared to give some to us.

Overall we were more impressed with Houston than people's reactions led us to expect.  We were a bit disappointed that it was too much of a hassle to make the journey out to the space centre on public transport, as we both secretly wanted to say 'Houston, we have a problem' but that is not unusual for the States and we will go there another time when we can take a car.

Houston is never likely to be a top destination, but is a great place for a few days and the Museum of Natural Science was excellent.

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