Sitting in a cushioned Whitaker chair on a 3rd story balcony viewing the beautiful sunrise with the breeze in my face but, partially blocked by a 40 ft. Palm tree; I sipped on my coffee reminiscing on the past days of our vacation. As my wife and I relax after the best night sleep we have had in six months from the incredibly comfortable bed, we prepare for the upcoming day and breakfast in a dining room fit for a King and Queen. The cool breeze and the light clouds from the ocean, typical of any island, the atmosphere is amazingly wonderful after being hit by a category 4 Hurricane just 12 months earlier. No, we are not in the Caribbean but, we are in the most luxurious and relaxing Bed and Breakfast in Galveston. As we prepare to dine for breakfast, we know that the food will be better than any hotel or restaurant we have dined at previously. We know this because we have just ended our 3rd day at the Grace Manor in Galveston, TX.
Walking up to the door of the Grace manor up the red painted steps viewing the gardens, adobe structure and the three story towering windows with shutters, we already gained the feeling of luxury before entering the beautiful house that was built in 1904. Walking in to the house the view is something similar to one would see in style to the Bishop’s Palace. All decked out in stained hardwood from the floor to the walls and on up to the 20 ft. vaulted ceilings, the paintings, antique furnishings, and decorations made us feel we took a step back into the early 20th century. With a sitting room to the right with books, a chess board and beautiful rugs, we were greeted by owner and manager Barb and her Cocker Spaniel, Gracie as if we were the King and Queen of England. As she checked us in she gave us a quick tour, and offered breakfast at our time the next day. Barb took us to our room, the Island Palm, up about a stair case made of stained hard wood; the sun was shining through all the stained glass and a beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling almost 40 feet above where walked in through the front door. Next was the walk through our room where she explained the walk through double window to the balcony decorated with the cushioned Whitaker chairs. The bathroom furnished with antique bathtub large enough for a 7 foot man to lay and relax. A stand fixed over the bathtub contained a book for pleasure reading and a blue stained wine glass.
Galveston has made a remarkable recovery considering the devastation of Hurricane Ike. Although making a pit stop in Clear Lake on Labor Day hoping to miss the Galveston crowds, Space Center Houston was packed with wall to wall visitors. The hopes of missing the crowds came true somewhat but, arriving in Galveston late afternoon Labor Day, the Island was still packed like a Sardine can. Road side parking and the beaches were jam packed with cars and visitors. Although some businesses did not recover from Ike, we still could not visit every restaurant and store we desired in five days. The Strand was hoping every night we were in Galveston and during the day the streets were packed with patrons. Many of our favorites such as the Chocolate Factory were business as usual. We watched the Chocolate factory make candied apples with many types of caramel toppings. The ever image of the Strand, the horse and buggies were standing by to take visitors on the city tour. Galveston is Galveston again for they have bounced into the future with a near full recovery.
Many of the beautiful 100 year old Oak trees did not make it through Ike but, the majority of the palm trees still swayed in the wind keeping Galveston looking like a tropical island. Many more houses one could see have been rebuilt than compared to the count of those that still showed damage. Some exhibits we visited lacked some such as Moody Gardens but, at Moody Gardens only the Rain Forest lacked some animals. The remaining tour was business as usual. Build out and repairs continued at the Bishop’s Palace yet for a Wednesday afternoon, our tour group was more than 20. That is for a non-holiday, non-weekend, Galveston still had many visitors to the Island. The Lone Star Flight museum was open and offering the flight into the past with a real ride on a B-17 Bomber. Many airplanes from WWII and on were on display. Crime, homeless people and trash we did not see but, police were visible in the business district, at the Strand and along the beaches. The beaches were clean, debris free and the water was clean. The stories you continue to hear about New Orleans is not apparent in Galveston. The community picked up, built up and perked up all in one year.
Every aspect of our Galveston vacation, including the dining was amazing. The icing on the cake though was the Grace Manor. Both of us felt this vacation is the best of our seven year marriage and will plan many more visits. We will reminisce of the breezy nights on the balcony of this relished Galveston Bed & Breakfast, the gourmet breakfast but, most of all, the hospitality from Barb and Gracie. Featured on the front cover of the September issue of Coast magazine, the Grace manor lived up to every expectation. Every time my wife bakes chocolate chip cookies, I will be reminded of walking into the Grace Manor in the afternoon. We look forward to many more vacations to Galveston but more so, to the Grace Manor.