Whenever work takes me to a new city I try to get out of the conference hotel and experience a bit of the local culture. Sometimes that is a bit more challenging than others, but its always worth the effort!
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Sharlene and I decided to take advantage of the local bus to Grapevine after a long day of chatting up potential new members at the NHSA Family Engagement Conference. We walked to the bus stop outside the Gaylord Texan and were confronted by masses of people loitering around what appeared to be several bus stops. Having researched the bus schedule and route, we assumed we were right on time. A less than helpful Gaylord staffer quickly disabused us of THAT notion.
He claimed that the bus only ran once per hour. We mentioned that the website and the brochure that the hotel gave us both mentioned that there was a bus headed downtown at :24 minutes past every hour. He said he can’t control that because it’s a city bus. Since we appeared to have a breakdown in communication and there was no bus in sight, we gave up and went to find a taxi.
When we got in the taxi the first thing we asked was if he accepted Visa. He assured us he did. He asked where we wanted to go. We told him we wanted to go to Downtown Grapevine. He asked us where that was. This confused us, since apparently the hotel is in Grapevine. He said he would put it in his GPS if we could get him an address. So while Sharlene googled an address from Grapevine, I routed my phone to downtown Grapevine.
Eventually we found it. I offered my Visa card and the cabbie said “don’t you have cash?” I said “you told us you take Visa?” He said he did but would prefer cash. Sharlene told him we only had $10 in cash and not the $15 he was charging us for teaching him how to drive the 1.5 miles to Grapevine. He said, “that’s good enough”. So we handed over our cash. Then he said “what, no tip?” We said “you told us you didn’t want to do Visa? If you want us to pay more we have to use Visa, that’s all the cash we have!” He said nevermind. We climbed out and set off to explore the city…
Having no real destination in mind, we immediately opened the door to the first bar on the street. As soon as we did, every head in the extremely well lit establishment swung our way at the same time a veritable wall of cigarette smoke hit us. We quickly backed out but not before we heard audible gasps and moans. Sharlene began to pray they wouldn’t chase us down and hang us!
We continued down the road until we spotted a small wine bar with some cute little sidewalk tables. We sat down and ordered a glass of sparkling wine and as soon as we did the Christmas Light Extravaganza began, and it was right across the street!
While the extremely well choreographed light and music show was on, we sat across the street and enjoyed the view. It was a really warm night, and the people watching was exceptional!
The next place we popped into was the Chic Boutique. Decorated entirely in pink, the store was a vision! There was a large pink tree decorated with glittery white ornaments, hot pink walls and a large variety of pink chandeliers and ornaments suspended from the ceiling. Honest to God, it was the most beautiful Christmas decor I have ever seen…
Next up was a fancy wine bar/antique shop that actually sold Dornfelder by the glass! We enjoyed a lovely spinach dip and another glass of wine and then wandered out to the back patio to enjoy the fire.
Except it was too hot for a fire, so we finished our drinks and moved on. Our next stop was all the way at the other end of Main Street. We stopped into the South
Prairie Market and Eatery primarily because there was a large signs in front that said “Dine In $4.99”.
The place was tiny, brightly lit and super clean. The proprietor stood behind a U shaped counter. There were a couple of men on one side and a married couple on another. Sharlene and I sat down and ordered a glass of wine. Someone asked where we were from. We replied DC. The guys sitting across from us tossed down their napkins and said “DC? Guess we can’t talk politics” and walked out the door.
The other couple struck up a conversation with us. They mentioned that they were from Buffalo originally and then offered to drive us back to the Gaylord. We decided to order some dinner and asked the owner what he recommended. He told us we had to have the Texas Tamales with chili and onions.
We got them, and boy howdy were they delicious! My mouth is still thanking me! We learned that Will (the owner) was adopted as a small boy by a wonderful couple there in Grapevine. He had a lovely childhood though his adoptive parents died when he was relatively young. He’d been running his place for years and one day a few years ago a woman came in and told him she was his mother and was there to apologize to him. She was dying of cancer and didn’t want to go without letting him know she had regretted giving him up all those years ago. She died shortly after, but he was able to get to know her and spend time with her before she left.
The other couple (we never did catch their name) then herded us out to their car. Like innocent lambs to the slaughter, we trundled along after them and climbed into the back seat of their texas sized sedan. I began to worry when they started heading in the wrong direction, but it turned out the wife was just directionally challenged and had just made a wrong turn. They dropped us off right at the front door of the Gaylord and waved as they drove away.
When we entered the hotel, we realized that our adventures had only taken a couple of hours and it was only 8 pm. We headed to Zeppole to cross another hotel bar off the bucket list.