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A View of Dallas From Abu Dhabi’s The National

Old Red got a mention, but Reunion Tower did not.  photo by Matthew Rutledge/Flickr
Old Red got a mention, but Reunion Tower did not. photo by Matthew Rutledge/Flickr

The National is an English-language paper based in Abu Dhabi that serves the United Arab Emirates. Today brings a travel story about Dallas, the “brash Texan star of the South.” Let’s grade their recommendations.

On Summing up the city:

Insecurity isn’t something that plagues Dallas. It chases money rather than love. Big, brash and business-minded, this sprawling Texan behemoth isn’t a city where being trapped behind tour groups or running a gauntlet of touts is ever likely to be an issue. Yet that allows visitors to disappear into real life rather than sigh in dissatisfaction through endless just-for-tourists experiences.

When you start delving in, mini personalities emerge. The Arts District shows a desire to do culture as well as commerce; the Deep Ellum neighbourhood retains a creative, dressed-down heart; uptown has a youthful, skittish enthusiasm for sampling the latest hot restaurants. Efforts to dig beyond first impressions will bring rich rewards.

Grade: They’re saying there aren’t a lot of sights to see, which is true enough. Dallas is a nice place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit. However, I thought the biggest complaint about the Arts District is that there isn’t nearly enough commerce (daily street life)?  B-

On Hotels:

The Joule is the most spectacular spot in downtown Dallas – it’s pretty much an art gallery and social gathering point as well as a hotel.

Grade: The Joule is nice, but “the most spectacular spot in downtown Dallas”? Really? They also recommend the Indigo and the Belmont. So, B-, I guess.

On What to See:

On the other side of Dealey Plaza is the former courthouse, now the Old Red Museum. It tells the Dallas story, from backwater river crossing to major world city, and gives an insight into the city’s ferociously business-minded character at the time. The building is also home to the tourist information centre – pick up the leaflet that maps out the key public art installations and use that as an engaging walking route. The Cattle Drive – 49 bronze bulls being “driven” through Pioneer Plaza – is the most ambitious piece, while the Nasher Sculpture Center ­ is the best of the arts museums.

Grade: They also deserve points off for referring to the School Book Depository as the place from which Lee Harvey Oswald “supposedly” shot. But a greater offense is calling the cattle at Pioneer Plaza the “most ambitious” (read: biggest) public art piece and resorting to recommending it at all. C-

On Where to Eat:

For something more casual, Deep Ellum, to the west of downtown, is the most likeably rootsy area of Dallas, wearing its blues history on its sleeve and still hosting plenty of live music. Twisted Root ­is the best place to fuel up.

Grade: Madness. I mean, Cane Rosso is right across the street. C-

On the Imminent Dangers:

Driving is almost essential in Dallas, but it’s a pretty terrifying experience at night – street lighting is awful and reflective markers on the road are rare. This makes it incredibly difficult to see road markings – especially if it’s raining. Either be prepared for this, take a taxi or use public transport – which is decent between major areas.

Grade: I had no idea I’ve been risking my life daily on our decrepit streets. And the definition of “major areas” seems to be limited to downtown, Uptown, and Deep Ellum.  D