"Galveston, Oh Galveston!"
In one of my favourite songs, Glen Campbell yearns to revisit this popular, holiday island. I myself had visited Galveston once before, and enjoyed its beautiful, endless beach, as well as the entertainment along the promenade. I knew, however, that Galveston had so much more to offer. So during our latest trip to the US, I had a great opportunity revisit this island city and find out more about its many attractions.
As with all our trips, the planning and research happens well before arrival to the destination. So, with my trusty itinerary that I had put together, I headed out from Houston with my parents (Pamela had some family business to attend to in the city).
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The Lone Star Flight Museum
Our first stop took us to The Lone Star Flight Museum. The museum is housed in two large hangers, near Galveston’s small airport, and displays over 40 historically significant aircraft. The highlight for me was the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. This large bomber seemed in good shape and sat pride of place in the middle of the first building. Another highlight was the North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber. The markings on this plane commemorated the involvement of this type of bomber in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, which was the first attack on the Japanese mainland following the attack on Pearl Harbour. Although this particular aircraft did not participate in the raid, the information and presentation from the museum on this action during World War II was very enlightening and interesting.
The American Undersea Warfare Center
Keeping with the military theme, we then took the thirty minute drive to the far end of Pelican Island, and visited The American Undersea Warfare Center. This museum consisted of only two exhibits, but there was plenty to see and experience. Firstly, there was the self-guided tour of the USS Cavalla, a World War II submarine that sank one of the Japanese aircraft carriers involved in the Pearl Harbour attacks, and did so on its maiden voyage! Warning though, you have to be able to climb through the small connecting doors of the submarine, and it wouldn’t help to be claustrophobic either.
Berthed next door to the sub was the USS Stewart, a World War II destroyer escort, which is one of only three of its type left in the world. The ship was actually built right here in the locality, at Brown Shipyard, Houston. The USS Stewart’s claim to fame was that she escorted President Roosevelt’s yacht to rendezvous with USS Iowa for his 1943 mission to Egypt and Tehran.
We then headed into the heart of Galveston, visiting one of it’s most elegant turn of the century residences, which thankfully had been spared by the hurricane of 1900. The Moody Mansion is a 28,000 square-foot, four-storey structure, completed in 1895, and really lets you see how the other half lived. The Moodys, a powerful Texas family, with interests in cotton, banking, ranching, insurance and hotels, resided here until 1986. Now the mansion is open to the public, and you will get the chance to see, amongst other things, one of the most beautiful stained glass windows I have ever seen in a house.
The Strand Historic District
By now, lunch was calling, so we took the short drive to The Strand Historic District, which is the traditional center of Galveston. The district is made up of many beautiful Victorian era buildings that now house restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops.
Our choice of restaurant was spot on – Yaga’s Café. The atmosphere was low-key, and the diner-type menu served up very tasty dishes. I chose the Shrimp Teja (bacon and cheese wrapped shrimp), with my parents having the Grilled Salmon and the Pepperoni Pizza. All three meals were excellent.
Texas Seaport Museum
After a walk around the Strand, we had a special appointment with the Tall Ship Elissa at the Texas Seaport Museum. Special, because this ship was built in 1877 by Alexander Hall & Company, in Aberdeen, Scotland - we had travelled half way across the world, and were now exploring a ship built in my hometown! Today Elissa is still a fully functional vessel that continues to sail annually during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico.
Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center
There was one more stop in Galveston to be made before we left. The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center may seem a strange destination to head for in Galveston, considering the choice of the many museums, architecture and attractions to be had on the island, but this Drilling Rig museum was a must see for me. I have a background in the Oil & Gas industry, so I jumped at the chance of visiting this now decommissioned oil rig. The museum described the Oil & Gas industry very well, and all visitors can leave with a good understanding of the tough life and work carried out offshore.
Join us next time when we continue our road trip to the bustling city of Houston.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels.
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