Houston Slammed By European Travel Blog: We're Boooorrring

Among world cities, in which category does Houston rank second only to Brussels, the capital of the European Union?

Tedium, at least according to the European Union-funded wiki blog OpenTravel.

According to "Chili," an English-language challenged scribe there, our fair city is the second-most-boring city on the planet.

Let's parse what this Chili has to say line by line:

You really have to look hard if you want to find something interesting in Houston.

True enough. We always tell people to get beyond the Galleria and off the highways...

This is a city of heat, humidity, shopping malls, highways and traffic-jams.

Um, yes to the heat and humidity. No to the shopping malls. Evidently little Monsieur Euro Smartypants does not know that most of our malls are dead or dying or have been converted into sprawling Meyerland-style open-air, big-box shopping precincts with vast parking prairies. These allow us more time to bask in our weather as we scuttle roach-like through the steamy miasma from Target to Best Buy to Palais Royal.

As for the highways and traffic jams, they can be avoided by...not getting on the highway. It is an option. We do have backroads here.

Houston is the fourth largest city in the USA, the largest town in Texas and its climate is hardly bearable. Apparently, there are around 100 days a year when the temperature exceeds 90 °F (32 °C) and the humidity adds extra degrees to the temperature. So, while in the city, you have no choice but to spend most of your time in air-conditioned buildings.

Not sure what our population stats have to do with our "hardly bearable" climate, which really only sucks in June, July, August, September, and a few weeks in October when you can't believe how hot it still is, and a few more weeks in May and even April when you can't believe how hot it already is.

But even in this guy's biased hatchet job, there are still 265 days of sub-90 degree weather during which we can enjoy our highways, traffic jams and decaying shopping malls.

"Thanks to its huge energy industry, the city has become a playground for national and international giants. How romantic.."

WTF? By "international giants," is he referring to Yao Ming and Hakeem Olajuwon? What do they have to do with the energy industry? Or is he saying that the energy sector is not a sexy industry and thus we are a drab town? Then just say so, Pernod-breath.

As bad as we were slammed in the article, we fared even worse in the comments.

Here's one: "A total snoozefest"..."sucks aesthetically--not visually inspiring or thrilling--dull buildings galore. Hands down one of the most boring, slow cities I've ever lived in."

Another: "This city is run-down, ugly, and did I say boring?...Family won't even visit me here."

And a third: "the ugliest city i've ever lived in, in my 35 years of life. when houstonians tell visitors that visiting the galleria (a fricken mall) is must when you come here, that alone tells you how much there is so little to see and do here when you leave the office. i live in rice village, which folks will tell you is the place to be. for houston stardards this place is the bomb, but anywhere else it would be a collection of attached tired-looking strip malls, without any sidewalks and trees. lots of dangerous areas to avoid, and the majority of residents are uneducated college-wise compared to other cities. it's great driving around here seeing empty lots next to an xrated theater, next to a 20 story building, next to a school, next to a truck rental place, next to yet another rundown business, for miles and miles and miles."

Um, dude, you forgot nail salons, tire barns, Walgreen's and CVS, Cricket cell phone shacks, check-cashing places, hot-sheet motels, personal storage unit labyrinths, massage parlors, gun shops, cut-rate taquerias, Shipley's, star-spangled Your-Job-Is-Your-Credit car lots, and We Buy Broken Gold pawn shops.

Most of these people speak at least some truth. Rice Village is overrated and always will be until it is spruced up and made pedestrian only.

Expecting visitors from anywhere more sophisticated than Lufkin to be awed by the Galleria is ignorant, and the same goes for those who harp on about our "world-class" arts stuff.

Still, only the truly boring can be truly bored here. Much of Houston's glory is hidden off the freeways in those "dangerous areas" you are supposed to avoid, so in that sense, Houston is a terrible place for the dull to visit but a great place for the brave to live.

See if you're bored in a Mexican flea market on Airline Drive on a Saturday evening, or at a Chinese New Year celebration on Bellaire Boulevard, or at a zydeco dance at Our Mother of Mercy parish hall.

And even in Chili's uninformed opinion, we are more exciting than Bratislava, Oslo, Singapore, Wellington, and Zurich, so there is that.

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