Heritage Village in Woodville, TX

Everything "western" looks better in sepia, no?

As usual, I am behind on posting our travel adventures here in Texas and around the US. A few months ago, my parents discovered a little place called the Heritage Village in somewhat nearby Woodville, Texas. The museum site is a restored pioneer-era village in east Texas containing period buildings and artifacts and an attached restaurant and gift shop. There’s also a genealogy research facility that specializes in Tyler County.

From our home north of Houston, it took a little under two hours to get to Woodville, and the park is located halfway between Sam Houston National Forest and the Arkansas border. We took the stroller with us, but found that it was rather difficult to get through the bumpy paths around the buildings, and had to leave it behind to access some of them. Since we went on a week day, it was virtually empty, and we only saw one school tour as we were leaving. That was nice because we could take our time through the village, but unfortunately we missed out on any of the demonstrations that are mentioned in the guide and on the website. Another problem is that some of the buildings were extremely musty, and were a bit overwhelming, so we didn’t explore some of them at any great length.

Overall, though, we had fun, and there were lots of interesting objects to admire. My dad, a huge train buff, particularly enjoyed the old Railroad Depot. My mom liked the Collier Store, with its collection of ladies boots and other odds and ends. I was fascinated and disgusted by a reproduction of a dentist’s office (complete with very scary tools). Most of it was completely over the head of my toddler, though older children would definitely get a kick out of it.

These were saws, not dentist tools (forgot to get a picture of the latter).

After the museum we went to The Pickett House Restaurant, which serves boarding house style all you can eat fried chicken, chicken & dumplings, country vegetables, cobbler, biscuits & cornbread. The food was pretty good, and we enjoyed ourselves.

I’m not sure I’d drive too far out of my way to visit the Heritage Village (two hours is pretty long for a toddler), but if you are going through east Texas, it is worth stopping in to see. More pictures that I snapped at Heritage Village can be found here.

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Tomball German Festival

On March 28, we decided to go to the Tomball German Heritage Festival. It was a nice day out, but didn’t live up to our expectations in the least. I didn’t even take any pictures of the festival itself, aside from a few of our son climbing on a permanent exhibit in the park of a red caboose. Since we have recently moved back to Texas after living in the German part of Switzerland for 18 months, we were eager to feed some of our cravings for German food and beer, and maybe even pick up some other goodies like sausage or cheese. No such luck.

The festival is free, and so is the parking (or it was for 2010 – if you are planning on going in 2011, you might want to check the festival information website). There were a small handful of booths that were selling German-themed items. Most were things that you would see in any tourist shop or airport in Germany. The rest of the booths were selling all kinds of odds and ends that you see at any other festival: clothing, raffle tickets to support various charities, timeshare scams (we almost got roped into one of those), and one very nice local artist that was selling gorgeous jewelry (got a gift for my mother there).

Since the festival is primarily sponsored by ZiegenBock (a Texas beer that got bought out by Anheuser-Busch), that was the main beer, along with several other US beers. No, there weren’t any true German beers at the festival, despite their availability in the US. Disappointing, but we can get decent German beer at our local grocery store. Continue reading

Houston Downtown Aquarium

A few weeks ago, we visited the Houston Downtown Aquarium. My husband and I had been there quite a few years ago when we were dating, and it wasn’t all that much to behold. We were hoping for expanded exhibits and when I got a discount through a local photography club that I am in, we decided to revisit it.

The Houston Downtown Aquarium is not owned by any sort of educational group, but by Landry’s Restaurants. Even the official website has “restaurant” in the URL address. Crammed into a few city blocks, the facility consists of a building housing a small aquarium exhibit, restaurant, bar, and gift shop, a small outdoor game arcade and amusement park, and a short train ride that goes through a shark tunnel. The aquarium boasts lots of special events, and is available for rental for everything from parties to sleepovers in front of the white tiger cage.

I was most interested to see the aquarium portion. It was sadly lacking in a variety and quantity of fish and information. I’ve seen more species of aquatic life at the Dallas World Aquarium (and they are constantly expanding and improving their exhibits). There are a few petting tanks in the middle of the exhibit, and kids had fun touching and giggling at the baby sharks, horseshoe crabs, and anemones. But, if you want to see a great aquarium, this isn’t one of them. Continue reading

Home!

Well, just a brief note. We are back home in Texas, our cell phones and home internet finally turned on, and all of our things have arrived as well (though we’re only half-way through the unpacking process – when did we acquire so much stuff?).

Many of you have asked what I’ll be doing with this blog in the meantime. I keep up with most of my friends on Facebook, and while this blog has documented some aspects of our life in Switzerland, it was more of a travelog than anything else. I have a bunch of day-trips that we took that I’ve not yet documented here, so I’ll continue to do that for a while until I run out of material. And of course, any future adventures will be documented here.

Hope all of you are well. Happy New Year!

Announcement!

We are moving back to Texas in January!

Lots of details still to be ironed out, but I’m sad, happy, worried, and stressed all at once.

We still plan to take a few more day trips and at least one weekend trip within Switzerland, so I’m sure I’ll have more to post in the next few months. I’ve also got a backlog of posting that I keep meaning to get around to. And since this blog isn’t just about us living in Switzerland, but also about our travels, I’ll be sure to update any future interesting adventures.

Coming Home…

We are coming back to our home state for Thanksgiving. We’ll only be here for a week, unfortunately. We’d love to see as many of our friends as possible. Since our travelogue is public, I won’t post the details here. Please send me a note via email if you want to join us for Lunch in Dallas on November 29th, or for Dinner in Houston on December 1st. Thanks!