Bring on some world travelers!

Last week we hosted the German Marshall Fund Marshall Memorial Fellowship program as they took a tour all over the City of Houston.  We picked up the group of 7 Europeans (representing such countries like France, Austria and Romania, to name a few) from their hotel downtown and began our journey around H-town! 

We wanted to take advantage of the remaining daylight we still had left so we made our first stop at the infamous Beer Can House which according to their website (http://www.beercanhouse.org), has over 50,000 beer cans on it.  

Cool Bus Houston at Beer Can House

The 2nd stop was the "We Love Houston" sign at the intersection of I-10 and Thompson.  Parking is a little tricky over there so, if you decide to go on your own, it will need to be a quick stop.  

3rd stop was the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park located in front of the Williams Tower in the Uptown District.  This is a popular backdrop for tourists and locals alike.  Many an engagement, prom and family portraits have been taken here.  The waterwall was built in 1985 and renamed after Gerald D. Hines in 2009 for his impact on Houston architecture over the last six decades.

Cool Bus Houston at Waterwall

After the touristy stuff, we needed to get our grub on , so we stopped at Himalaya Restaurant (6652 Southwest Frwy, Houston, TX 77074 - http://himalayarestauranthouston.com) which is some of the best Authentic Indian and Pakistani food you will ever eat!  

From there, we headed to Washington Avenue to take in some of the Houston nightlife and where else do you take some Europeans when they come to Houston, but Rebel's Honky Tonk (5002 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77006 - http://rebelshouston.com) for a little country western dancing and mechanical bull riding! 

One of my favorite scenes from the trip was when we were pulled over on the side of the street waiting for everyone to unload, but the group stayed on the bus and just kept dancing on the bus!

Cool Bus Test Ride numero dos

The 2nd official Cool Bus ride is in the books and had a few more lessons learned and ideas that crept up in the ol' head to further enhance the bus experience.  

Overall, I think the night was a success.  We met at the Sawyer Heights Lofts by Target on I-10 and Taylor Rd around 9:00 PM and promptly hit the road.  Like I planned, we went to Kay's Lounge first which might've been not such a good idea.  The only reason I say that was because Kay's was closing that weekend, so everyone and their mom's wanted to get in on the action and say their farewells to a long time Houston establishment.  Therefore, the bar was packed and our guests had a tough time getting drinks...so not the best start to the night, but we kept on! 

Second stop was in Midtown at Irish Cowboy.  We probably arrived around 11pm and stayed there for roughly an hour.  We had a few of our bus riders peace out at this point and go about their own way for the remainder of the night.  

Around midnight, I picked the remaining folks up and dropped them off at Rebel's Honky Tonk for some late night country western dancing.  As 1:30 AM rolled around, everyone was ready to call it a night.  So we loaded up and I dropped everyone back off and proceeded to head back and drop the bus off.  

I really wanted to get a feel for what an actual night would be like and entail.  I was very curious as to how the timing of everything would work.  I currently keep the bus out in Jersey Village (290 & Beltway 8) so it takes about 30 min to get to/from downtown Houston.  So i wanted to test out the actual process of driving my car to the bus, prepping the bus, driving the bus to the designated pick up location and running the bus through the night.  Then to finally drop everyone off and return the bus, clean it up, and then drive my personal car back to my house.  

After it was all said and done, I think my head hit the pillow around 4:00 AM Sunday morning. And such will be the life of a party bus driver/owner/Ambassador of Fun.  

A few things I learned on the trip - 1) Make sure their is plenty of gas in the generators that power the A/C, 2) Look in to adding more fans in the bus to keep it cool, 3) Interact more with the passengers, 4) Be careful when pulling up to lights and dont stop suddenly in order to prevent people from falling over in the bus, and finally 5) Get another handrail or support beam across the roof of the interior of the bus for people to hang on to.