Dallas, Texas. Skyline photo credit: ragingwire
GUEST ARTICLE: We arrived at Dallas, Texas pretty late at night and got a bus transfer from the airport to our hotel (Hyatt Place) located in the suburb of North Irving. We were packed in with a few military personnel and some people sporting the famous Dallas Cowboys jersey.
Everyone was in a great mood and really excited about the upcoming football game. Initially we thought how lucky we were to have arrived just in time to potentially see a Dallas Cowboy game, unfortunately our enthusiasm was quickly doused when we heard how much the tickets were (if any were available) – each one a whopping $350US – Yikes!!
The next morning we decided to head into downtown Dallas. One thing we hadn’t counted on was the vastness of the city, it is absolutely massive! And another were the price of things, for example to take a cab into the city was going to cost us around $60US. We had initially booked a rental car but cancelled it because we had just been caught in a really bad freak snowstorm in Las Vegas.
That storm was headed toward Dallas so we thought better of it, especially after the chaotic ride we had had on the roads in Vegas at that time. Instead we decided to check out their bus and train transportation system. Unfortunately and strangely no buses ran near our hotel so we decided to catch a cab to the nearest train station. $26US later, we arrived at a deserted looking station in South Irving.
Our train ride into the city was pretty interesting we met some very friendly people who had no qualms about filling us in with regards to the places to see and the ones to definitely avoid in Dallas. For example South Dallas is notoriously known as a very bad area rife with crime. We found it somewhat unnerving to find out that in such a beautiful city that there were particular areas that could be potentially fatal for you to walk around?
I live in Sydney, Australia also a very large city but there are no areas that I can think of that I would be afraid even in daylight to walk around in?! An hour later we arrived in the city centre and headed towards one of the most famous spots in Dallas – where John Kennedy was shot and murdered on November 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald.
As we neared the street where two painted X’s marked the spots where he was shot, vendors selling paraphernalia about that tragic day drew small crowds while explaining that particular day’s events, various theories and even copies of newspaper clippings.
I had seen the video footage of the shooting numerous times and I had thought the street they were on was much bigger, flat and with big buildings all around. In actuality the street isn’t that big and it’s also on a slope that winds down through a tunnel.
The infamous red brick building (the School Book Depository Bldg)that Lee Harvey was is in only has 7 floors, also the “Grassy Knoll” seemed to be nothing more than a little grassy mound with a few tiny shrubs ? Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is, is that it just seems almost impossible for no one to have noticed a supposed second gunman in those little bushes, one would have thought a sniper would have picked a less conspicuous spot.
Downtown Dallas is quite nice and being only a few days before Christmas we found it to be very quiet. We wandered into the Historic West End district, a really beautiful area with numerous little shops and restaurants. For lunch we found a nice pasta restaurant and got a real taste of that lovely Texas hospitality and fantastic food. The portions were certainly ‘Texas size’ with diet cokes served in 1 litre glasses! One thing is for sure you certainly get your money’s worth in Texas!
Next we caught their very cool old fashioned Mc Kinney Trolley which took us from the West End through the Arts District. It was a really great way to get to see more of the city and it was free! At the end of our tour we were still looking for some action so we lucked out by flagging a cab down and got him to take us to one of their massive shopping malls.
We arrived at the gigantic Galleria shopping centre and as soon as we stepped into the mall we were greeted with the biggest Christmas tree we’d ever seen! It was beautifully decorated and was situated right in the middle of a giant skating rink surrounded by hundreds of twirling bodies, what a beautiful sight!
After we had our fill of the massive mall we decided to head back home. Unfortunately it was impossible to get a cab (because of the football game and last minute Christmas shopping) so we decided to take a chance and jump on the first transit bus we saw and hope we could get dropped off as close as possible to our hotel.
We didn’t actually know exactly where we were (remember Dallas is huge!) but fortunately it wasn’t only but a few minutes before we had a group of other passengers giving us directions, I guess we must have had tourist written on our foreheads. We had started our bus journey at about 4pm; little did we know it would turn out to be quite an adventure…
First off, we weren’t on the right bus (of course), in actuality we were headed exactly in the opposite direction. Because our hotel was one situated among hundreds along a very popular hotel area and was also fairly new, nobody actually knew the exact location (yes even with the address?!).
So after listening to a few suggested routes we ended up catching a connecting bus but after looking at our map we soon noticed that we were about to take the ‘long way’ home. We had a few funny characters on the bus and we also had a chance to see some ‘interesting’ suburbs. I don’t think I’ve seen so many skeletal homes in my life, the recession has certainly hit Dallas, there’s no doubt about that, the situation is so very sad.
It was around 10pm when we finally arrived at our hotel after several more connections, getting off at the wrong location, tramping through fields, freezing our buns off running across a major freeway in order to get something to eat, you know your typical Saturday night stuff?! Our flight the next day actually ended up getting cancelled due to the freak snowstorms that had hit the northern part of the country.
Fortunately we were able to fly out the day after but soon found ourselves stuck in Vancouver, Canada for a week due to more snow…cancelled flights…that my friends is another story!
Overall, we actually quite enjoyed ourselves in Dallas but ‘of course’ we would highly recommend renting a car with GPS no matter the weather! We would love to go back one day for a proper explore since there are so many beautiful areas to see and of course to reap some more of that wonderful Texas Hospitality!
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!