Dallas. 'Nuf said.

Trip Start Mar 30, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let's get this straight: I'm in Dallas for King Tut. I had no plans on coming here, so let's summarize:

(1) Dallas is ugly. Repeat, ugly.
(2) It has a 6-lane freeway.
(3) The signs on this freeway move you from one lane to the other, then back again so quickly that the GPS lady is absolutely freaking out.
(4) You see a store, any store. Four blocks later, you see the same store. Another four blocks, the same store.
(5) Dallas has a store named Condoms to Go. I swear. I almost drove off the road.
(6) People do not walk in Dallas. I had to drive 1/4 mile from my hotel to a restaurant because I knew I'd get run over crossing 4 lanes of traffic if I walked.
(7) Dallas stinks. Literally.
(1) Dallas has an amazing arts district.
(2) Dallas has a peculiar, funky street called Harry Hines, where you'll find multitudes of fabric outlets, Mexican nightclubs, furniture warehouses, and strip clubs.
(3) Dallas has a store named Condoms to Go. Hey, safe sex is better than the alternative. (Is the alternative unsafe sex, or no sex?)
(4) Dallas has the best Greek food I've eaten since living in Detroit. Maybe even better.
(5) Dallas has the best steak I've eaten. Period.
(6) Dallas has a stunning Arboretum, and I've heard great things about the Aquarium and the Zoo.
(7) And, finally, Dallas has very, very nice people.

Okay, it's 4am and I'm trying to catch up the blog before heading off to who-knows-where to camp and hike. Please, please, let me find a peaceful, warm, dry, non-windy place to camp and hike! I know there will be no wi-fi, so I must get everything in before I go. For those of you who call me, all I can say is that I do check voice mail whenever I'm within range. Of course, I often turn the phone off regardless of range but, again, I check voice mail.

After several days in Dallas, here are the highlights:

The King Tut exhibit was good. It was interesting and educational, but not emotionally engaging. Room after room featured items that weren't in King Tut's tomb, but rather his predecessor or relatives, although that really doesn't matter much. Once I reached the final three rooms that did contain his things, it was almost an anticlimatic. Again, the artifacts were interesting, but there was no ta-da moment. They used the blue and gold head for marketing, but it wasn't there; nor were any of the 7 (8?) layered sarcophagus. The exhibit just petered out and slung you into a huge, crowded gift shop. Very Disney.

The most intriguing item in the entire exhibit was a chair, which had its original rush seat, intact after all this time. The figures on the inside of the chair where very slim, with long limbs and necks, as we're used to seeing in Egyptian art. But the figures on the outside depicting gods as lions had broad African facial features, very distinct. The detail was astonishing. I had many questions (as usual) about some of the things I saw, but there was no one to ask, so I shelled out $50 for the coffee table book. If anyone would like to see it, just check in with Mom; it should arrive by the end of this week.

By the way, since I'd gotten a good hotel/Tut deal and downtown parking is hard to find, I decided to use the valet. I followed the sign and drove a few feet off the sidewalk, then asked the guy if he'd have enough room so there wasn't anything parked too close to my truck. He pointed behind me and said it would be parked over there, against the wall of the museum, immediately outside the main entrance! Well, you can't get much safer than that; how much does it cost? $30. Thirty dollars. To drive my car about 20 feet. Oh, well, it will definitely be safe. And I only pay $10 to camp. Rationalize, rationalize.

When I came outside to pick it up, I couldn't believe I had to stand there and watch him walk a few steps just to drive it over to where I was standing! What a hoot. I tipped him $2 just because I couldn't stand not to, but I told him he sure didn't earn a tip. We had a good laugh, although he was definitely getting the better deal. (Hey, Dean, there was a huge high school group milling around when I was getting in the FJ to leave. You should've heard the "wows"! Hey, I've never driven anything that ever got a wow, and definitely not from a high school kid. :-)

Marijka cannot live on hamburgers alone, and french fries are not a vegetable! Can I tell you how hard it is to eat on the road? I feel better when I'm eating chicken soup and oranges in camp. Being in the city makes me fat! Yuck. Who would've thought finding a salad would be so hard, and restaurants just don't offer plain vegetables anymore. So I'm trying to eat one good meal a day and supplementing with fruit and protein bars, but I'm craving grilled chicken and vegetables. I did have two memorable meals here in Dallas, though.

If you are anywhere, and I mean anywhere, near Dallas or Houston, go to Pappas Bros. and eat steak. Eat lots of steak. I splurged and took myself out to this amazing restaurant and, boy, was it worth it! Cesar salad, fresh warm bread, haricot verts swimming in butter, and an 8 oz. filet mignon. I ate every bite, except for a few pieces of romaine. It was heaven. They have another restaurant in Houston, so guess who'll be eating steak when I get there? (Oh, and Dean, the valet guys elbowed past each other to hop into my FJ. They did the same thing when I left. Said it was "much sharper" than the Hummers the "suits" drive. Sorry to keep bragging about it, but I know you understand.  :-)  www.pappasbros.com
I learned to eat in Detroit. Up to that point, I was a country girl living on beans and taters. Well, not quite, but ethnic was a pizza from Mr. Gatti's or homemade spaghetti with home-grown ground beef. I ate middle eastern in Knoxville, but that was about it. Detroit hosted a different ethnic festival every weekend that summer, and the Ren Cen (Renaissance Center) was filled with food, music, dancers and crafts. Detroit has Mexican Village and Greek Town, and numerous restaurants serving eastern European, oriental, African, and every other food you can imagine. Oh, and you can't get pickle relish in Detroit, so I learned to love brats with kraut and spicy mustard, and haven't looked back! (Although I still love relish on chili dogs.)

So imagine how happy my little taste buds were to find Stratos Greek Taverna. I was there for lunch, so I avoided the heavier moussaka and pastitsio, but ordered a gyro with Greek salad. It was all so fresh and wonderful! Max, whose grandfather started the restaurant, also brought me an appetizer called skordalia, a potato puree with garlic, olive oil, and other delicious things I don't remember. I even brought dessert back to the hotel, although I don't have a clue about the name. It was like a smooth orange custard surrounded by phyllo, with a cinnamon honey glaze reminiscent of baklava.  I'm just sorry I wasn't there for dinner and the belly dancing! www.clubstratos.com

I won't bore you with details about fabric shopping. Just know that I'm having to UPS the stuff home. Friends, you do realize that you still won't see me once I get there -- I'll be locked up in the studio! ha

Finally, I spent this radiant Sunday at the Dallas Arboretum. This is what must keep the Dallas folks sane, a way to escape the ugly and live in the pretty. The parking lot was full, but once inside the gates, there were no crowds. Everyone spread out among the gardens, had picnics on the grass, played in the storybook houses, and posed for portraits. It was four hours of bliss, and a wonderful way to complete this part of the journey. Warning: lots and lots of photos. www.dallasarboretum.org/

Now, off to camp and hike. For days and days!
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marijka on

Re: Skyline Chili
Jamie - can't believed I missed your comment! YES, love those 3-ways with a little coney on the side. Mmmm

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