Tag Archives: dallas skyline

The Tourist

2 Jul

Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes.   In the past 2 weeks, I’ve enjoyed all three.  Both as a tourist in my new hometown (Dallas, TX) and my old hometown (Arlington, VA).

Over the first 100-degree temps this summer, we had a wonderful visit with Kevin’s mom who stayed with us for 5 nights.  Besides enjoying the time together to catch up, it was a great opportunity to explore Dallas.  So often when you live somewhere, you really don’t take the time to see all of the “touristy” things right in your backyard.  Man, this sure was the case in D.C.   Most folks don’t really take advantage of local museums, attractions and tours until someone new comes to visit.  Then it’s fun to show off all the cool things about where you live, and you get to enjoy them in the process!

So off we went, shopping in Knox-Henderson and Highland Park.   We visited the Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Garden.  Both were great activities for a scorching hot summer day and beautiful facilities.   Little did we know we’d get to attend for free, as Kevin’s cousin Grant, who also visited for a short time, is a member of the U.S. Army and is entitled to free admission for active duty personnel and up to 5 guests at 1,800 museums in the U.S.   This program is called the Blue Star Museums Initiative and runs Memorial Day through Labor Day of 2012.   What a great program in support of both our military and the arts.  I will give some credit for that one, Michelle Obama.

We also stopped by Reunion Tower for drinks and spectacular views of downtown Dallas.   This rotating lounge/restaurant holds a special place in my heart, as I frequented it often as a young girl with my dad and guests from out of town.   Back then I drank virgin strawberry daiquiries.  Now…  $15 martinis!   My favorite part about this visit though was watching my husband’s giddy reaction to seeing the Dallas skyline in all its glory.   Barnski adores skylines and skyscrapers.   The joy on his face was priceless.   You can see Kevin’s post about Five Sixty, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant inside Reunion Tower, on his last Watering Hole Wednesday review.

We also went to check out Jersey Boys, the Broadway touring production, at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Winspear Opera House.  What a gorgeous, modern arts facility!   I’m often struck by the beauty of historic theaters, but the finishes of this place were not lost of me at all.   I’d definitely recommend seeing a show or concert here.  And while it was my third (3rd!!) time seeing Jersey Boys, I enjoyed every second of it.   So did Kevin and his mom.

After a long weekend full of sightseeing and eating well (including Danielle’s kitchen), I hit the road early Tuesday morning for a work trip back to DC.   During this trip, I spent the majority of my time in the office or at the gym.  Doesn’t sound touristy at all does it?   It wasn’t.   I fell straight back into my old patterns.   I visited my fav restaurants, taught my old classes, caught up with great friends.  It didn’t feel strange or different at all.  That was the good part.

The bad… I realized just how much I didn’t like D.C.   I miss friends, co-workers and my classes OF COURSE.  But I do not miss D.C.  My two least favorite things in D.C.:  Traffic.  And Tourists.   (HA!)    Getting around was a nightmare.  First night, I sat in stopped traffic on I-495 at 10:30 at night (that 20 minute trip took an an hour + 20 minutes).   Next night, someone hit my (rental) car in the parking garage and parked so close I couldn’t open my driver side door.  I had to crawl in from the passenger side.  Joy.   Last day, I got caught up in a logistical nightmare and just barely made my flight back to TX.   I couldn’t wait to get out of there!  And yet, I almost didn’t.  OH THE IRONY.

All my moaning aside, I came back to Texas knowing we made the right decision to move here, and I couldn’t be happier.  Well, maybe if I could bring all my friends here with me.  :)

While we’ve been enjoying feeling settled and like we really live here in Dallas, I think we’ll try to be tourists a little more often as we continue to get to know this great town!

Hope everyone’s off to a great start this week.  Any big 4th of July plans???

Till next time.  :)

Watering Hole Wednesday: Reunion Tower – Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck

29 Jun

Barnski here with your second edition of Watering Hole Wednesday!  Yes, I realize its Friday, and sorry to leave you hanging with bated breath since my last update.  In addition to be extremely busy in our professional lives, Danielle and I also had the pleasure of hosting my Mom and cousin for a recent visit to Dallas.  I think I sold my cousin on the merits of the Nodding Donkey in my last write-up, since we made a bee line to the Donks for several drinks this past Saturday when he was in town.  After numerous draft beers and Donkey Punches (the name of the house drink in case you missed my last post) we engaged in an epic battle of giant Jenga.  The stakes were high as the loser had to address the entire bar at the top of their lungs and profess their love for Jenga…fortunately I won, sparing myself of the embarrassment.  As you can see from the picture below, we had a pretty impressive stack going.  We even garnered a small crowd that gave me the nickname “soft hands” due to my surgeon like block placing skills.  I won on a potentially controversial block placement that was okayed by the impartial judge of the bouncer, but my cousin gave me a very good run for the money and could have easily prevailed.

Jenga

While hosting my Mom and my cousin, we elected to take them to a staple of the Dallas skyline for a drink – Reunion Tower.  For those of you who are watching the remake of Dallas on TNT right now (JR is such a Gentleman with a capital G btw), you are likely familiar with Reunion Tower as it is heavily featured in the iconic opening sequence of the show.

First a little history courtesy of Wikipedia.  Reunion Tower was completed in 1978 as part of an urban redevelopment project that also renovated the historic Union Station.  When it first opened, the tower included radio station KOAX-FM, now KRLD-FM 105.3 FM, once owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting (“Live twenty-four hours a day from five-hundred feet above the city.”).  The tower closed for major renovations in 2007 and now plays host to a great restaurant and bar called Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck.

On to the review.  We went to Reunion tower on Saturday afternoon hoping to enjoy an early beverage and take in some of the panoramic sites of the skyline and surrounding areas from the bar/restaurant at the top.  Unfortunately we arrived too early as the bar/restaurant at the top doesn’t open until 5:30.  No problem, we hung out at the bar in the Hyatt hotel (which is attached) until it opened.  5:30 rolls around and we bound up to the gate of the tower only to be told that we couldn’t get in because my cousin and I were wearing shorts (it was a blazing 100 degrees after all), which apparently doesn’t comply with the bar/restaurant’s business casual  dress code.  After some finagling that included informing the host of my definition of business casual, letting him know that he was shooting down an active duty serviceman in the U.S Army (my cousin), and a small bribe, I was able to get us all in.

I promised structure around these reviews, so let my dive into my categories from here.

  • Location: Just outside of the more vibrant parts of downtown, Reunion Town is a destination that takes an effort to get to.  As I mentioned it is attached to the Hyatt, but parking is somewhat inconvenient with the choice of expensive valet or a pay parking lot that isn’t really that close.  Once you’re up there though, the views are astonishing.  Danielle and I definitely plan to make this a go-to spot to bring our out of town guests.  As you can tell from the picture I snapped on my phone, the sweeping views of the skyline are quite impressive.  I’m sure they are event better at night, but unfortunately we couldn’t stay to witness sunset.Reunion Tower
  • General Vibe: As you  can probably from my anecdote about the dress code limitation, the bar/restaurant at the top strives to achieve a classier vibe.  Generally, I’d say they hit the mark,  but err on the side of perhaps trying a little too hard.  Once again, I can easily forgive that given that the views easily compensate for that shortcoming.
  • Differentiators: Did I mention the views?  In case that’s not enough, oh yeah, the whole restaurant rotates, so we were able to get a panoramic tour of Dallas without leaving our seat.  It is impressive to see how flat and green certain parts of Dallas are once you rotate away from the venerable skyscrapers that consume downtown.
  • Beer Selection Depth: Pretty shallow here, but then again this is more a restaurant first and bar second.  Of course Shiner is on the menu.
  • The Signature Drink of the House: There really isn’t one per se, however Danielle ordered a Pear martini, which I stole a sip of.  She raved about it, and I was certainly a fan as well.
  • Price Point: This place is definitely on the pricier side.  If memory serves, I think cocktails were around $12 to $15 each, and beers ranged from around $7 to $10.
  • Overall Rating on a Scale of One to Ten: I’m going with an 8 here given the cool factor of the views and overall structure, but am docking points for price, a snooty  dress code policy, and lack of beer depth.

Until next time, cheers! Barnski

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