Let me start by saying Texas is very flat. I had no idea! While I don’t actually come from the great back-hills of NYC, this place made the Bronx feel like high mountain country! I also found out that the air/ environment is quite dry…so don’t let TSA take your skin care products — keep it under 100 ml/ 2 oz. (Found that out the hard way🙁)
We stayed at The Gaylord Texan, and it’s a HUUUUUGE campus/complex; but it’s gorgeous and the staff is amazing. A major advantage to staying here is that everyone seems to know exactly where it is. Google it, you’ll see why: (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dalgt-gaylord-texan-resort).
I Uber’ed over to Grapevine from the hotel and then used public transportation since I was sightseeing without my partner in all thing touristy (he was in training sessions). Grapevine also has it’s own local shuttle bus system. The line that serves the Gaylord has a delayed start during the week but I was able to take advantage of it for return trips ($5/day pass) (www.grapevinetexasusa.com/plan/shuttle)
DAY 1: Check in – a breeze.
Next – find our room. Seemed like an easy task – we had a map and mobiles to use as a compass. Just when we thought we were within reach of our room – BLAM!!!! SUPER “AIR CONDITIONED FOR YOUR COMFORT” blasts of chilled air from head height vents. You might think this isn’t a bad thing since it’s Texas except — we’d only just escaped from 4 degree NYC in January temperatures.
By Wednesday we probably looked stupid but were really working our ‘duck-the-vent’ skills.
On to – tour the hotel, get our bearings… find pub, food, coffee bar – all the essentials of life!
For me, some other things to keep me entertained were the gym, pool and spa. Note: Make your spa appointment when you first get there. #treatyoself
DAY 2: Tour the local town – GRAPEVINE
Now, in case you’d not figured it out from the name – Grapevine is a winery town, so I like it already! A whole town full of tasting room and I’m not driving, for this trip – so, I got this!
First stop.. food. Farina’s Winery and Cafe. Cool looking western looking bar, kinda looks like a old western movie set. Hey – remember I got no other guidelines. I’m here for the “I’ll probably never be here again” adventure of it all! I had the most amazing beer – Revolver Blood and Orange – oh, and some just-adequate lasagna (Sorry – NYC standard’s are high)
Lunch done.. on to (obviously?) Grapevine Visitor and Information Center office… you bet they’ve got one(www.grapevinetexasusa.com). It used to be the Mercantile Exchange, and it’s a really cool building. Amazing architecture. Nicely restored/preserved.
The concierge here was hospitable and informative.
So – armed with a map of the walking distance tasting rooms – I’m off.
In my typical OCD-fashion, I start on the south end of Main Street intent on zig-zagging my way back toward the shuttle bus stop at the north end back towards the hotel. Sounds like a plan right? You have no clue who we’re talking about – very easily distracted!
…I saw a jewelry store over that side. It was closed as were most of the tasting rooms the other side of the road. Change of plans–just cruise the block and see what there is to see…
Paradise was found in the form of Bingham Family Vineyard (www.bingham.wine), Tessa(pour mistress/ consultant), and her cohorts/customers – Morgan and James! Great conversations about wines, cheese, sightseeing in Dallas area, life on oil rigs, building/designing models/sets, engineering, raising teenager vs. being teenagers, and so much else – we chatted ’bout almost anything for nearly 3hrs! See Morgan works for the Warhammer Citadel (www.facebook.com/pg/WarhammerCitadel) shop next door and James is, well; Jay Mendez, an intimidatingly tattooed man with a wickedly interesting life-story (MS and MMA) and he’s also a devoted dad. Both were equally fascinating people and excellent wine pimps. They talked up a Merlot or Petit Verdot and Tessa would pour it – excellent salesmanship (They must practice!!)
But it couldn’t work if the wine wasn’t good!
Be prepared to take your wine home in your checked luggage
…shipping wine from Texas is difficult to say the least!
Realized I’d need at least another day to hit more tasting rooms – lucky for me I’m here for a few more days. Morgan and James recommended visiting Fort Worth Stockyards. After all – this is Texas and when else am I going to get to see both cattle and cowboys IRL??
DAY 3: #treatyoself DAY
Started the day with a trip to the hotel gym (more options than your average hotel gym). I was actually spoiled for choice with all the gym’s toys.
Now on to the best part of killing time ’til my spa appointment – a long relaxed breakfast followed by a nap. Rise and shine! Time for your full-body massage, Madame!
Such a life of leisure!
These are the teachable moments and I’m an eager student!
And, yup – you probably guessed it – my masseuse put my ass to sleep.
Kinda embarrassing, but didn’t she just say that it was a compliment & that it means she’s done a good job?!!
I hung a little longer; after all I had access to all the spa’s amenities for the day and as I’ve been saying when is this going to happen again?
(I highly suspect this is going to be my new vacation motto!)
The spa was an experience I probably could never justify the expense of at home. But, I wasn’t at home, was I ?(!)
Day 4: Fort Worth
You’d think I’d want to go to Dallas – and I probably will with my tourism buddy/extra set of watch-my-back eyes, but a city is a city …kinda.
I’m sure Dallas has it’s own coolness. I’m sure it’ll be a cooler place to visit with my hubby, rather than without him. It’s not a lack of independence or anything but my hubby’s got keen eyes and even keener wit. I couldn’t “do Dallas” without him.
So I was off to see real live cowboys (and cowgirls) drive real live cattle, even if it was a Disney-style setup. But when am I going to see this again? (Turns out they do it 2x a day – but let me not digress…)
Thanks to my ‘Grapevine Advisors’, the tourism office concierge, and team Bingham winery – I learned where to pick up the, newly opened for service, TEXRail line into Fort Worth, which for the next few days was free!! So I obviously hop a train to the Fort Worth Stockyards (www.fortworthstockyards.org).
On this impressive commuter train, I met retirees out for the day, and a transplanted Texan who works for Walmart in Portland but was home visiting. My luck – more advisers! I must have ‘hopeless tourist’ written on my face.
I’m not being sarkie or anything, because I was, in fact, in need of some ‘how to get there’ advice. Not a lot of clear signs on this trip and GoogleMaps was not forthcoming with mountains of helpful info. Locals to the rescue!!
I’ll let the pictures do the talking for this bit…
During my livestock photo-session at the holding pens I met a young cowboy from Wisconsin who pointed out the differences between long horn and dairy stock (I get chatted up by all sorts)
Makes sense but I never thought about it – wherever cows live so do Cowboys.
Things that make you go hmmmm!(That’s a C+C Music Factory/Arsenio Hall reference – google it – life lessons, baby!) …So cool – a real cowboy with spurs and every thing.
A video of the actual Cattle Drive can be seen if you CLICK HERE
Last hurry up trip on the way back from the Stockyards…more wine tasting back in Grapevine. I hadn’t forgotten. Silly reader – you had!
I hit the tasting rooms most recommended by the retirees (respect your elders!)
Homestead Winery (www.homesteadwinery.com) sits slightly off Main Street in a 100+ year old Victorian-era house that seems to be sinking into itself. Kinda cool in a creepy-house way but no one seems concerned and I’m only here to taste wine.
Lastly there was Messina Hof (http://www.messinahof.com). Wicked good wine and they ship to NY.
Brilliant – because I’ve yet to figure out how to get my other bottles home (I’ll probably fed-ex my clothes home and check the wine in my luggage).
Day 5: Off to Class with Honey then shuttle to airport
I spent the day with hubby at the vendor/supplier site he was here to train with, as he was allowed to bring a guest. This company and the instructors were most gracious, as were his fellow trainees. Hubby and I both work in the same field so I could keep up with all the lab lingo. Last year I dragged him to Chicago for a professional seminar of my own. He explored a little while I was stuck in class. I can honestly say I really like hanging with my hubby!
Overall, Texans seem to be gracious and loquacious people, and very tolerant of this ‘excited to be here!’ Bronx girl.
I had a good time.
**AND NOW – A FEW WORDS FROM KEN…
As stated by my lovely wife, in her mini-journal above – I was in Texas for a training course, which is why I didn’t get to see as much of the great state of Texas as she did.
However, I did enjoy exploring the massive hotel we were in, and there were two evenings when the host company – Abbott Diagnostics – took us trainees out to dinner.
The first such meal was at the Hard Eight barbecue restaurant. This was some seriously good food – with almost too much meat variety available!
The second group meal was at Saltgrass Steakhouse – an authentic Texas steakhouse (so, you know Gabby just HAD TO have a huge steak!)
This meal was attended by some of the class instructors also, and the atmosphere (helped by a few Texas Teas and other libations) was comfortable, convivial, and fun.
Also along for the trip was one of my coworkers – Monica, who I think had a good time – especially when her husband was able to come down and keep her company for part of the week and it was a genuine pleasure to make his acquaintance.
I’d like to visit Texas for real with Gabby, one day, and for us to be able to explore with much more time to spare, and – more importantly- to have time together.
And, next time – I’m coming back with my very own cowboy hat (no matter what she says!)