The Concrete Jungle

Dallas Travel Blog

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Shiner - a dark beer brewed in Texas.
Temperate climate is a good thing in Dallas at this time of year, but for those of you who hold this city near and dear to your heart I urge you to look away.... and quickly!  My experience here as a solo traveler was that of an unwelcome tourist.

Doing hours of research before my trip as I usually do, accompanied by fistfuls of maps, information, and printouts online, I descended upon this city with enthusiasm and glee to see how the city has changed since I was last here twenty years ago. 

What I learned about the city of Dallas:  Rent a car.  Parking is plentiful.  Expect to leave Dallas to see the good stuff.
  Don't bother with the train.  Mix with the locals as they are the best part of the city.  Don't expect to get inside any of the landmarks.

I landed at DFW one of the smaller terminals and began my hunt for a sign pointing to the DART train.  After all, there is a train station called Centerpoint/DFW Airport.  I also called my hotel beforehand and told me I could catch the train from this airport.... and the hunt began.  I headed out to the curb as directed by the signs for "INFORMATION."  After a few minutes of looking for an information booth I realized that the "information" the signs referred to was a pre-recorded telephone message at two exits.  When looking at the sign above these phones I selected the option 9, which was for info on Public Transportation.  About six minutes into listening to shuttle information, taxi info, and parking lot info, I realized there was absolutely NO info for city buses OR any reference to DART and there was no option to transfer to a person.
.. recorded messages only.  So, I had the brainchild to call my hotel from that same phone by selecting #2 for Hotels.  Yeah....... that function was not working.  I tried both phones byt two different exits.  Since I am a believer in being prepared I headed back up to the ticketing area where I could hear better.  I called the DART helpline directly for route planning.  I quickly reached the customer service line and the woman told me the route needed to get to my hotel via train.   SURPISE!  2 hours and 36 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!    The DFW train station was about 2 miles from the airport and a combination of shuttle bus and city bus were needed to get to that station from the airport.  POOR setup!  My next best option was to catch a SUPERSHUTTLE at the curbside, which I did, and scored an extra discount by showing my AAA card.
  $15 plus tip was the cost of the trip to get to my hotel at Market Center from DFW.

So I finally get to my hotel and check in.  I bid and won this Crown Plaza Market Center hotel room on priceline for the rock bottom price of $40.00 per night.  The hotel was pretty and the room was really big, more like a suite.   With a king bed, couch, and overstuffed chair, the room felt nearly the same size as my house.  The weather that evening was stormy so I chose to stay inside the hotel and check out the restaurant for dinner then turn in early to get a jump on the next day.

Cutting to the chase:

Here is what I experienced as a tourist.  The tourism map features all the following buildings to "see" but has no updated information telling visitors that all are closed to the public.


Reunion Tower - the ball tower attached to the Hyatt that is a lighted at night and is a major feature of the Dallas skyline - I learned that the tower closed to the public in about May 2008.  The observation deck is now controlled by Wolfgang Puck Restaurants and Visitors are not able to go up and view the city anymore UNLESS you make a dinner reservation - which is booked out about 4 to 6 weeks.

The Majestic Theater - closed to the public with no tours offered at any time.  As I walked past on a Friday morning two employees were standing outside for a smoke. When I asked them about touring the inside or taking a sneak peak they informed me I was very welcome to buy tickets to a performance and attend at night "like everyone else.
"   The theater looks, on the outside, beautifully restored but I couldn't get in even though the building was fully staffed.  Drunk homeless people congregated in the alley behind the theater so it is a bit seedy.

The Renaissance Tower - the building with X patterns on the outside that are lit at night.  It is an office building with no observation deck so the lobby is just granite with no signage explaining the history or architect or anything. It is a major feature of the skyline but basically misses any opportunity to capitalize on its status by deterring visitors -- basically, closed to the visiting public.

Thanks Giving Square - a triangular shaped greenspace that is comprised or several innovative water features all the way around it.
  Algae covered and on the smelly side... not very clean and welcoming - A chapel underground makes it feel just a little more like a mausoleum than a park for reflection.

Union Station - a building that now is primarily used as the hub for trains.  The building outside is a nice, historic design and is simple but sports elegant details.  Inside it is nearly empty except for a few racks with train route information and a few benches.  The train office is located here but the door was locked.  An employee cracked the door to out to offer help as I browsed the train schedule but she admitted that she didn't know where the nearest station was that I was looking for as she doesn't ride the train.  Strange.

The Chase Bank Building - another skyscraper that was supposed to be an alternate tower from which to access an observation tower since Reunion Tower was closed, according to the Tourism Volunteer.
  This building was also closed to the public due to a security breach the week before and a bomb scare.

Cathedral Guadelupe - Closed to the public except during church services during certain times of the weekend.

Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Book Repository Museum - Though I had to wait until 10am for this to open (I arrived downtown about 8:10am) I was able to access the 6th floor museum - which was interesting and worth a look but was crowded - and then took the audio tour of Dealey Plaza - which was a waste of time.  You get a map with a code to punch into your telephone and hear about 20 seconds of description and history for 8 locations on the map such as the grassy knoll, etc.  Nothing to look at and not much more information than all people already know.
 

Free Trolley - While it is true that the trolley is free to ride and is a good way to weave through the Uptown shopping/restaurant district, the trolley actually broke while I was on it----- the cables came down across the front of the trolley at the "Y" part of the track where the trolley makes a turn to head back in the other direction.  Literally, the trolley was stuck in the middle of the street and had to call maintenance to get the car moving again. I couldn't wait around for it as it would take about 45 minutes before help could arrive. So, I hoofed it.

Dallas Museum of Art - during my visit nearly 1/2 of the gallery was closed as the exhibits were being changed.  Figures!

Visitor's Center - In the cool looking red building there is a visitor's information room.
  The man was so friendly there. I believe he was a retiree.  There are computers inside this room with free access. Some websites are blocked on it, but I was able to get to my hotmail account, though I repeatedly got warnings that popped up on screen.  Tourists can get maps here, but as I mentioned, the maps show the streets and buildings, but are misleading as many of the buildings shown are not open to the public.

West End - Great little entertainment district a few blocks east of the Book Repository that is known for live music in the streets on Fridays, a very nice selection of restaurants and bars and is easily walkable.  This was about the best part of the city I found, and I found it only at the end of my day and visit.



(to be continued)







carlydc1985 says:
I live in Dallas and this is similar to my experience of the last 6-ish years. Austin is a much better trip if the options are open.
Posted on: Mar 26, 2012
Nella85 says:
Wow! Dallas wasn't friendly to you! However, if you come back. I could definitely give ya some tips! :)

Posted on: Nov 11, 2011
sweetsummerdaiz says:
Much appreciated, Nick!
Posted on: Oct 08, 2011
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