Our visit to the Friendly Texas Town of Smithville:
We’re still not really sure why we picked Smithville as a night stop during our short trip from Houston to Austin but are we sure glad we did.
We knew we had 24 hours to make the trip as our reservations for Austin were not good until the Monday but we didn’t really fancy a Sunday night in Houston.
Smithville looked kind of in the middle on Google maps and a quick accommodation search pointed us towards the impressive looking Katy House B&B website. The property was situated right in the middle of the small town.
Our initial call to owner/proprietor Sallie left us with a problem though. We were just an hour or so away but she was in Austin running errands and would be at least a couple of hours. She did have a suggestion, “You could park up and head across to Huebel’s Bier Garden. A few scenes of the movie, “Hope Floats”, staring Sandra Bullock, were filmed in that bar.”
This seemed like a plan as we were (well, I was) gasping for some beer and the idea of some accommodation within crawling distance of a bar is always appealing to us Brits.
There was one other point we needed to cover though. Apparently something called the ’Superbowl’ was taking place on this Sunday evening and as most of America would be watching it we felt we should too. “Oh, they do have a large TV screen,” confirmed Sallie.
We reached Smithville at about 5pm, parked outside the beautiful (but empty) Katy House B&B and headed straight over to the bar. I must have looked helpless when asked what beer I wanted but as it was my first visit to Texas I asked for something local. I was passed a ‘Lone Star’.
Jo panicked when all she thought she could see was a beer list but was soon calmed by a cold Chardonnay. There was just one other table in use as we sat there cooling off from the drive and it was soon apparent these were the sort of friendly locals we would never have met in Houston. And that wasn’t just because some of them were dressed in cowboy hats and boots.
I guess English accents aren’t heard too often in Smithville so within a few minutes one of them, Tom, had joined us, within five he had bought us another drink each.
It was at this point I remembered a recommendation in one of our guide books that went something like this – just because somebody in Texas comes up to you and says ’hello’ doesn’t mean they are the local lunatic. Trust me, if this had happened in London we would have already been collecting our coats to make a quick exit.
Within a half hour or so Sallie was on the phone informing us she was home. We finished our second drinks, said a temporary goodbye and headed over to unload our bags into the fabulous Bluebonnet room we had been assigned at the Katy House.
Here we got our second warm Texas welcome, this time from Sallie and her dogs, but hey the ‘Superbowl’ was about to start so having freshened up we soon left her in peace and headed back to see our new friends in Huebel’s.
By now we were invited to join their table and settle down for the ‘Superbowl’. Now to us ‘football’ is normally a game played with ‘feet’ and the last time I remember seeing the Cardinals on TV they were playing out of St.Louis but I think we could just about follow what was going on on the big screen.
Some excellent wings and pizza (and some great complimentary cinnamon sticks) came from the ‘Pizza Shack’ opposite and we continued to neck further beer and wine as we were given a fine rundown on the history and economy of our new favourite little town in Texas by our friends. And it seemed there was always another beer or wine on ice waiting for us.
By the end of the evening, after an exciting Superbowl was decided in favour of the Steelers with just a minute or so left on the clock, the bar jukebox was switched on and it wasn’t long before Jo was whisked onto the dance floor by Don (after he politely asked if I minded). Unfortunately his attempts to teach her the two-step were doomed to failure.
At some indeterminable point in the evening we said our goodbyes and headed back to the Katy House, a little the worse for wear but feeling right at home in Texas, for a restful night’s sleep. After an awesome breakfast with Sallie the following morning and an interesting look around Smithville we headed onto Austin.
We won’t forget our night in friendly Smithville in a hurry. Maybe we’ll be back for the 2010 Superbowl. Keep the beers (and wine) on ice.
Matt and Jo, London, England.
P.S. I did go swimming in Barton Springs. Matt