Sandy beaches, palm trees and fresh salty air surround historic island architecture.
Early architecture in The Strand's 26 square block Historic Landmark area.
I loved the feel of a slightly-skewed culture, where the unexpected is more normal than not.
Galveston is known as one of the ghostiest towns in America, which was my excuse for the visit, research for an assignment about ghosts.
Galveston's past lends itself to uneasy spirits, as the island hosted cannibalistic natives, pirates, civil war battles and casualties, a yellow fever epidemic, mysterious fires, and in 1900 a Cat 5 hurricane that covered the island in saltwater, scouring a third of the town from its foundations and killing more than 6,000 people, including all but three in a sizable orphanage.
I found more, much more, than I could use. Perhaps the most well-known teller of tales was a tall blonde man in a long dark coat. Dash Beardsley started his ghost tour of The Strand as night fell.
In daylight you wouldn't think of The Strand as haunted. People stroll the historic streets enjoying boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and bars.
But Dash knows dozens of tales.
I also heard residents' stories. A ticket-seller at the Pier 21 movie theater had a visit from his deceased mother naming her murderer, a waiter at Gaido's (fine-dining seafood, don't miss the best crabcakes in Texas) wondered if wraiths near his mid-town place were spirits still wandering after their bodies were burned where they had washed up in the 1900 hurricane.
At The Grand 1894 Opera House, folks have heard strange noises and footsteps in deserted areas,felt moving cold spots in upper regions and seen people wearing turn-of-the-century dress waiting for the curtain to go up when the opera was not in session.
You know a town is good when folks don't want to leave even after they're dead.
We stayed in the Hotel Galvez, a century-old beach-side beauty known for comfort and hauntings. Our room was across the hall from the one favored by the hotel's most famous spirit, the Ghost Bride.
No noises or scents of gardenia or shadow-people interrupted our sleep. I'm thinking maybe we should go back and give her another chance, in the name of research of course, nothing to do with the pleasure or the waterfront view from our room...
Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.