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Home Road Trip Houston man road trips to 11 Texas cities named after places in Europe

Houston man road trips to 11 Texas cities named after places in Europe

by Staff

Eiffel Tower landmark in the city of Paris, Texas. The tower was constructed in 1993 and is a model of the French one but with a red western hat on top of it. Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Matthew Gamble has never been to Europe but now he can say he’s been to Paris, Dublin, Italy — and he’s even ventured over to Moscow.

As a 33-year-old Houston third-grade teacher, Gamble’s summer vacation is about to come to an end. It’s common practice to have returning students describe their summer vacations, but Gamble’s recent travels are likely to take the cake. That’s because he figured he would do one last adventure — a solo Texas-European road trip, driving more than 1,200 miles, for more than 20 hours, stopping in 11 cities with names made famous by larger cities abroad.

“I couldn’t afford Europe on such short notice. I was like, ‘What can I do in Texas?'” Gamble recalled in a conversation with the Chronicle. 

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At first, he only planned to go to Paris, Texas — the first city that came to mind. But after he researched the Lone Star state’s version of Paris, London, Texas came up. 

“Then a few other Texas towns came up that were European and I said, ‘Wait a minute, are there more of these towns here,'” Gamble asked. “Then I just started going to Google Maps and typing in different towns at random and I started making a list.”

Gamble said he had a list of 15 to 20 towns to visit before he started whittling down his list. He knew some of the towns just wouldn’t be interesting, so it wasn’t hard for him to decide where to go.

“Some of these towns are so small, they just had a welcome sign and that was it. No landmark, nothing unique about them, there was nothing to do there,” Gamble said. “So I wanted to avoid those as much as I could. I wanted to actually do things.” 

Gamble isn’t the first Texan to come up with the idea to do a road trip through Texas’ European cities. A Facebook page ‘Texas Traveling Family‘ went viral earlier this year after they posted a route through more of Texas’ European-named cities. Fort Worth Magazine also published a similar guide in 2019.

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“A journey through Texas’ European-named towns is really a lesson in the state’s lesser-known history,” Kyle Whitecotton wrote for Fort Worth Magazine.

Matthew Gamble, 33, recently took a Texas European roadtrip by visiting 11 cities named after places abroad.

Matthew Gamble, 33, recently took a Texas European roadtrip by visiting 11 cities named after places abroad.

Matthew Gamble

So how does the teacher grade his itinerary? 

“It was pretty awesome,” said Gamble. “Most of the towns were very interesting. There were cool landmarks and restaurants with good food, but there were a couple of cities that were definitely places I would never go to again because there’s nothing to do and there’s nothing cool to see.”

As a self-proclaimed history buff, visiting places of significance was front of mind as Gamble began his trip Monday.

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His first stop was the city of Nederland (Netherlands), then he made his way to the cities of Moscow, Athens, Paris and Italy — all during his first day. On the second day, Gamble drove to the city of West (Czech Republic), Dublin, London, Stonehenge, Fredericksburg (Germany) and Mission Concepción (Spain) before he returned to Houston Tuesday. 

Gamble said the town with the best food on his trip was Fredericksburg.

“They had so many German restaurants it was hard to pick just one,” Gamble said.

Gamble also described himself as a “soda nerd,” which made Dublin, Texas — famous for its “Dublin Dr. Pepper” — his favorite city on the quick trip. Dublin also was proclaimed the official “Irish Capital of Texas” in 2005.

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“Dublin, Texas has (its) own brand of sodas, they have a museum that was really fun, and the city was Irish-themed. There were pretty cool shamrocks and pots of gold decorated everywhere,” Gamble said. “It was a cute little city.”

His least favorite cities?

“It comes down to either London, Texas, or Moscow, Texas,” Gamble said. “Neither one of those cities had any (theme), they had no landmarks, they had nothing reputable there at all. I don’t know why some of these towns are named that way when they have nothing to do with Europe.”

Gamble said the trip did inspire him to one day go to Europe to compare the “original” cities to their Texas counterparts.

“Even though I was in Texas, a lot of these little towns felt like they transported me to Europe,” Gamble said. “You don’t feel like you’re in Texas. It really felt like I was going to these other worlds.”

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