We -- to be frank -- had absolutely no idea who David Landsel was...until we opened an e-mail to discover that he is the single most insightful, knowledgeable, trenchant and trustworthy travel writer to ever be on the web.
Why he has no multi-platform empire of his own -- why he's not the Martha Stewart of travel, say -- is one of life's unfathomable mysteries.
Landsel is, according to his credits, a "Contributing editor at Airfarewatchdog.com," a description we can only assume is the equivalent of God when it comes to watchdogging air fares.
We say this because Landsel, in the space of two paragraphs, has cogently and persuasively argued a theorem which has long been deemed unchallengeable by all right-thinking people.
To sum up the theorem in a sentence: Austin is overrated; visit Houston instead.
Sure, to many it's like saying something as obvious as "Godfathers I & II are great; III, not so much."
But there are still too many people out there who envision Austin as if it was the loose, laid-back utterly enjoyable Austin of the `70s, as opposed to the traffic-chokede over-developed, uptight suburb that it has largely become.
Writing for the Huffington Post , Landsel has set himself the task of listing "10 Terribly Overrated Destinations (And Where To Travel Instead)."
For example: Berlin is overrated; try Prague instead. Colorado is overrated, go to Utah instead.
And, in the Number One position, thus making it the most overrated city in the entire universe covered by the Huffington Post, is Austin. And, you guessed it, the advice is to try Houston instead.
#1 Austin Drum roll, please, for this legend in its own mind, a mildly entertaining university town and state capital with fever dreams of greatness, a city whose entire purpose for breathing is to not be like everything else around it. When you're trying to set yourself apart from a place as large and as bold as Texas, you have to work really, really hard. Which could explain why everyone walks around here looking so stressed. Sprawling Austin is one of those unfortunate places that seems really smashing on paper. And then one ruins things by going. You have now been advised.
We have to admit, in our own private list of why Austin is not as good as Houston to live in, "everyone walks around [Austin] looking so stressed" is not in the Top 500. When we visit there (and we do, because we do like it), we enjoy seeing self-important Type A executives bullying subordinates by shouting on a cell phone, because we can give thanks that however life may suck at any given moment, at least we are not that dude or dudette, exploding at every given moment.
So what does The Great Landsel have to say about Houston? Read on:
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If your precious snowflake mind can tolerate a little diversity of thought, Houston -- our nation's fourth largest city, if you didn't know -- is currently the place to experience Texas at its most interesting. Sure, this is a city so ugly that sometimes you may be tempted to put a bag over its head, but Houston is also an impressively creative and very fun town, with good museums (the Menil Collection, the Contemporary Arts Museum), plenty of good food -- Austin's own golden boy, Tyson Cole, opened Uchi here recently -- good drink (start with Anvil & Hay Merchant), plenty of music and -- best of all -- fun-loving locals who are generally anything but uptight.
So, ummm, faint praise and then an endorsement of our "fun-loving locals" who aren't uptight.
We'll take it!!!