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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

{Trip Report} Galveston Island

My history and love affair with Galveston is a life-long one. I started going annually with my entire family when I was only 4-years-old. They passed to me their love of the ocean, and Galveston is where I honed my skills of making drip castles, finding perfect shells, catching sand crabs and playing poker.

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We've taken the kids for quick trips in the past, but this was the first time we were able to enjoy a full week. Not only did I treasure the family time (I talked about the importance of it in this post), but I loved passing on all the Galveston traditions and history to my family.


beach collage


In it's early days, Galveston was the largest and busiest port west of New Orleans. The Great Storm of 1900, still the most deadly natural disaster in US history, devastated the busy town and killed over 8,000 people. Today, the port is a major fishing and cargo hub. It is fun to see what the fishing boats bring back each day, and watch the giant tankers and cruise ships come through for unloading. Many of the fish are cleaned on site and the remains fed to the waiting pelicans.



fishing pier collage



We took a one-hour boat tour of the harbor, which is a great way to see all the port activities (and dolphins) close-up. I captured this sweet moment between brother and sister.


love collage


I thought the coolest thing about the harbor tour was this oil rig, which had been brought in for repairs. Can you imagine living on one of those for months at a time?! The wellhead is similar to the one that blew in last year's BP Oil Spill.


oil rig collage


Once back on land, we headed straight for the tall ship, Elissa. She was built in 1877 and carried cargo around the world for 90 years, before being rescued in Greece and lovingly restored. She now lives in the Port of Galveston, but is still a fully-functioning ship, and sails the Gulf of Mexico annually.


elissa night


You can almost feel the spirit of the men who worked her sails, and imagine their life spent at sea. Especially when touring the tiny bunk rooms below!


elissa collage


The Historic East End is a rainbow of beautiful and colorful Victorian homes, some dating back to the early 1860s.




homes collage 1



homes collage 2


Some, like Bishop's Palace, are now museums and fascinating to tour.




Disaster struck the island again in 2008 with Hurricane Ike, and even though they have worked hard to restore the island, sadly there are still reminders.


ike


The Strand, part of the Historic District, suffered a 10-foot storm surge during Hurricane Ike. Apart from losing a few of our favorite shops and restaurants, it is once again open and bustling. Most of my collection of shells and coral were purchased here over the years, and we always stop by Hendley Market for fun treasures.


strand collage


Of course vacation is also about the food! The seafood is amazing, and there are countless individually-owned restaurants. Our favorites include Benno's, The Spot, Miller's Landing and Gaidos, all on the Seawall;  Fisherman's Wharf overlooking the wharf, and Mosquito Cafe and Sunflower Bakery in the Historic District.



restaurants collage


The West End of Galveston Island houses countless homes for rent (most on stilts), but this year we elected to stay closer to town at the new Palisade Palms, on the private East End. The amenities were amazing. Actually, they seemed a little out-of-place in the Galveston of my memory, but we got used to the pools, fitness room, coffee bar and game room pretty quickly. We were thrilled to find this unit for a reasonable rate, with bay views overlooking the tankers and cruise ships. In a blogger-small-world moment, it was fun to find out the owner has a blog and chronicled the condo makeover here!


condo collage


It was a perfect trip spent  with my favorite people. Hopefully the calm and connected feelings we had there accompanied us home.


fishing pier


And I'm happy to report my kids carry on my same love of the beach and sea. We spent every possible moment near the water, even picnic dinners watching the sunset.


sunset picnic


I treasure the memories of this special beach town, and making new ones with my own family is just as special. Is there a town near and dear to your heart?


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I'm sharing this post over on Kate's Favorite Towns post!
***I receive no kick-backs from any of these links. I'm just a huge fan of Galveston and want to see her flourish.***

24 comments:

  1. ok how sad is this! I live a little over an hour in-land from Galveston and I have never even visited all those places you have! When I was younger we were in Galveston every weekend and my dad was an avid surfer. We only took the kids ONCE this summer! so sad! Glad you had such a great time

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  2. Looks like you all had a wondeful vacation. What a beautiful town. It really is a shame when they suffer damage due to storms. So glad to see they continue to thrive and rebuild.

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  3. Awww I love this post for many reasons. First of all, it looks like you had a perfect family vacation before the hustle and bustle of school started!! I also grew up going to the beach every summer with my mom's family, but we lived closer to Port Aransas at the time, so that's where we spent two weeks for many summers. My cousins and I have such amazing memories from those beach trips. The other reason I loved this post is that even though I live right here in Houston now, I feel like I don't always take time to truly appreciate Galveston. We go on day trips to go lay on the beach and my husband wade fishes in the surf, but I'm going to make a point of really appreciating Galveston more. We never just explore the island, but I love the pics of the houses and ships you posted!! Next time, I'll be sure to appreciate the beauty that is there. thank you!

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  4. As the "Wall Street of the South" prior to the Great Storm, Galveston has been left with a collection of Victorian architecture that has been compared to Boston. The city was blessed in the early days by wealthy and very philanthropic families who left libraries, churches and amazing homes. There is so much to see and do - even when the weather's bad...that, to me, is the mark of a good beach town! Tour Bishops Palace, Ashton Villa, check out the Historical Society and they'll give you ideas to fill DAYS, see the movie The Great Storm, go to the harbor and watch the shrimpers bring in the daily catch, ride the free ferry over to the mainland and get up close and personal with dolphins and enormous tankers, walk the beach - miles and miles of it. And, the best part is the completely different personalities Galveston can have depending on the time of year. Since 1981 we've spent the week of Thanksgiving there- the beach is clean, air is cool, the water is almost always clear (certainly not the norm!). And, by the way, the brownish color of the water? It's NOT dirty - that's because of the makeup and color of the sand. The now-rare tar balls? They are naturally occurring, oozing from the sea floor. Okay, enough - if you've never gotten off the sea wall, you have NOT seen Galveston...but, maybe that occasional bad impression people have is what keeps it uncrowded and affordable, though! LOVED your post, Cass, and I'm glad I've been next to you, laughing and walking and shelling and spying and eating for SO many of those fun times....the tradition continues with a new generation :-)! Ali

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  5. Looks like a super fun trip...your kids are ADORABLE! Must take after their mama! :)

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  6. Galveston looks like a great place to visit, Cassie. Thanks for the tour!

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  7. Aw what a beautiful vacation. So glad you enjoyed and love your passion for it. Thanks for sharing. (Though as much as I love your kiddo's faces I would have liked a few pics of your mug peppered into the post.)

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  8. Ditch the kids and hunny and lets on on vacation -- I am WAY more fun (wink). But honestly, I may have to go a quick jaunt down to see this place...it looks uber fun.

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  9. Loved this post - this looks such a nice place! The little ones are looking gorgeous!
    Rachie xo

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  10. Hey girl! We love Galveston too! We go every year with 2 of our best friends...3 families totaling six kiddos equals amazing memories!! Love The Spot and the vintage ice cream parlor on the Strand. Cheers to Galveston!!

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  11. Love the quote at the end of the post- so true! Beach trips are the absolute best!

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  12. Gaidos = yum! I haven't been down there in a while, but seeing your post makes me want to head down there soon! Looks like you guys had a wonderful time!

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  13. That looks so beautiful and charming, now I need to add that to my list of places to visit. I love spending time at the beach (in the shade) it's so peaceful and refreshing and gets your mind clear!

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  14. That really does look like the perfect little family trip! I had no idea that Galveston had so many awesome things to do and see! Whodathunkit? (c: I am totally impressed with how sweet your two munchkins are with each other...every time I see one of those cute pictures I'm just praying that someday mine actually like each other! (c:

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  15. Galveston looks so fun and relaxing! I went to Destin for Spring Break, but it was super crowded and there was a weird jelly fish invasion going on so it was scary to swim!

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  16. While living in Corpus for a while, I made the trip to Galveston and fell in love with the old Victorian homes.. reminds me of Cape May.. so beautiful.. nice post!
    Sandy

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  17. Such a nice post....I too LOVE the beach (and Galveston!) My family is headed there this weekend (an annual trip for us over the past few years)-SO EXCITED!!!! We are praying that the tropical storm leaves us a few rays of sunshine, but I'll take any day at the Beach :) Thanks for the great ideas about things to do, places to dine and shop..so glad you had a wonderful time!

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  18. Hi Cassie! Thank you so much for sharing my painting, "Salt Water" on your blog. Would you mind crediting me with a name and a link? :)
    Thanks so much,
    Mae Chevrette

    http://maechevrette.com
    http://maechevrette.etsy.com

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  19. Hi Cassie! So, I am probably the last person on earth to read your blog, but I have been going through it for hours and am in LOVE! I had to comment on this post though because we share a love for this great island! I too have grown up going to Galveston for a week every 4th of July ever since I can remember. My aunt and uncle own a beach house (on stilts) on the west side of Galveston and I have so many memories of going to the same places that you mentioned above! I mean, is there anything better than The Strand? Or Fisherman's Wharf? We get our shells and goodies on the seawall at Murdoch's and always ride the pedal buggies down there too :). And oh, the drip castles! We still make those, and I'm 26. We go back in a few weeks--can't wait!!

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    1. Hi Katy!!! So glad you found my blog and you're enjoying it!! Love hearing your experiences in Galveston...it definitely has my heart! We've been back every summer since my kids were old enough, but unfortunately, we won't make it this summer. The condos we usually rent have gone sky high in price, and it's just too hard to justify those crazy prices!!! Hopefully they'll level out soon and we can go back. Have a great trip next month!!

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  20. What beach did you guys visit and where did you stay? The beach pictures look so CLEAN and secluded! I must be going to the wrong part of Galveston! lovely family!!

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    1. Hi Natalie! The last few years, we've been staying on the east end, near the ferry...there are a few condos out there. The beaches are more private, less crowded, and you're close to town!!

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Your comments are like popcorn with milk duds, I just can't quit them. Thanks for taking the time to share your positive thoughts! xoxo, cass

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