On Sunday, I flew down to Dallas for my first ever business trip, complete with company credit card. I was scheduled to attend Casualty School, which sounds more exciting than it actually is. Four and a half days of training. Woohoo….
I arrived around 6pm, picked up my rental, and was at the hotel restaurant in Richardson (a northern suburb of Dallas) by 8. We stayed at the Hilton Doubletree. Pros: King-sized sleep-number bed, free breakfast, gigantic room, literally 3 minutes from the office, free warm cookie with check in; Cons: no mini-fridge or microwave (some of my coworkers had them, some, like me, did not. I was not pleased); during the free breakfast buffet the wait staff hovered constantly, looking for any way to get a tip (as in, literally taking the glass from your hand as you approached the juice machine).
Training ran 8-4:30 Monday-Thursday. I headed downtown on three of the four nights. Though I had a rental to myself, traffic in the Dallas area is HORRID, so I elected to walk ten minutes and take the train.
Monday night I saw the infamous grassy knoll. There was an ‘x’ in the road where JFK was assassinated. Slightly morbid. I then walked around the Downtown Art District, taking in the architecture.
Tuesday I planned on going to Fair Park, where the State Fair is held every year. It had a 4.5 star rating on Trip Advisor and was rated one of the “best public spaces in America” with a lot of art deco style buildings. What all the reviewers neglected to mention is that Fair Park is in the ghetto. I started getting uncomfortable on the train based on the scenery, but I assumed that Dallas was like NYC, where one block is ghetto and the next (generally a tourist-trap) is perfectly fine. Boy was I wrong. I got off the train and attempted to walk the few blocks to the entrance of the park, but I felt completely unsafe and turned right back around. Even I have limits to what I’ll do in the name of exploring. If I don’t feel safe, it isn’t happening.
Wednesday I stayed in the hotel. Boring, I know.
Thursday is the day when the art museums are open late. I hit up the Dallas Museum of Art and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. DMA was a bit bigger than the STL Art Museum and had a nice variety of exhibits. The Crow Collection was tiny and wouldn’t have been worth a trip on its own, but it was a nice add-on to the DMA. I especially loved the photographs by John Thompson.
Class ended around 11:15 on Friday, and it took me until 12:30 to return the rental car. The trip should have taken 20 minutes, but things tend to slow down when a major highway is reduced to one lane in a venue which already has some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen (I was out around 8:45pm two of the nights, and it was still like rush hour traffic).
The best part of travelling on business is that all your food is on the company’s dime (within your per diem limit, of course). I took the opportunity to get in touch with my inner Thai. I highly recommend Ruang Thai, Noodlewave, and Bambu if you’re in the Richardson/Plano area.
I tried Indian one night, but discovered that I’m not a fan of cardamom.
Another day we had lunch at a Mediterranean buffet. Mmmm falafel. I also had lunch at a place called Twisted Root Burger. The teriyaki and swiss black bean burger with sweet potato chips was delicious, but the atmosphere was dive-y. Later on I learned that it had indeed been featured on the Food Network show Drive-Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. And, of course I couldn’t pass up the chance to have the company pay for the Cheesecake Factory.
Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Dallas, and I’m glad I didn’t spend my own money to come here. I suppose I’m just a Coastal girl (imo Chicago is better than Dallas and STL, but pales in comparison with NYC, Boston, and San Fran). The Richardson/Plano area did have some amazing restaurants, and the weather was pleasant, but the atmosphere of the city itself was…grungy for lack of a better word. That said, it is another pin to add to my map and another story to tell 🙂