Ride the historic M-Line trolley in Dallas

Are you in Dallas and at a loss what to do next?

You have already been to the 6th Floor Museum and stood on the Grassy Knoll looking towards the spot where JFK was shot. You have been to as many steakhouses and eaten as much BBQ as you possibly can. You have hit swanky bars on McKinney Avenue. You have shopped till you dropped.

Now it’s the time to ride the vintage M-Line trolley.

The Green Dragon lumbering down McKinney Avenue
The Green Dragon lumbering down McKinney Avenue

Head to the Arts District, allegedly the biggest in the country, and wait at the St. Paul & Ross stop, near the Dallas Museum of Art, until you spot a trolley trundling down the street. It could be Rosie (1909) or the Green Dragon (1913), Matilda (1925), Petunia (1920) or Betty (1926.) Watch out for cars when you step off the curb-some drivers are either careless or naughty. An attendant will help you, anyway. The ride is free of charge but a donation is appreciated because the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority is a nonprofit organization.

The motorman will greet you warmly. If there are small children with you or if you are a child at heart, he will let you step on the horn pedal. What fun! You sit on a hard-backed wooden bench and away you go, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

Motorman and attendant
Motorman and attendant

You ride along McKinney Avenue, past bars and restaurants and chic boutiques, all the way to the M-line Uptown Station, where the trolley is turned around on the turntable. You have enough time to stretch your legs and snap photos of your trolley. Some passengers alight, some board and the trolley starts again. You might decide to get off at the West Village and take a stroll, do a little window-shopping, or actual shopping, soak up the ritzy atmosphere, and maybe have a cocktail. You hop onto the next trolley back to where you started.

Turning round at Uptown Station
Turning round at Uptown Station

You can hop on and off at any of the stops, should you decide to do a little exploring. Do you feel like an elegant French meal? Step off at stop 9 and walk a few yards to the Saint-Germain Hotel. Are you in the mood for art and culture? The St. Paul & Ross stop is right next to the Dallas Museum of Art and round the corner from the Nasher Sculpture Center. The gardens at the Nasher are, in my opinion, the most beautiful in Dallas. Would you like to enjoy some peace and quiet? Head to Klyde Warren Park, an oasis in the middle of a busy city. If you are into local history, go to Greenwood Cemetery, where prominent citizens and veterans are buried.

Klyde Warren Park on a sunny day
Klyde Warren Park on a sunny day

 

 

Hours of operation
Monday: Thursday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday: 7a.m. to midnight
Saturday: 10 a.m. to midnight
Sunday and holidays: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Go to www.matag.org for information about stops

An evening of tango and classical music with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra

One of the radio stations I listen to while driving around Dallas is Classical 101 FM. The other day, I heard the end of announcement about tango and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I thought it was a good combination worth exploring. So I did.

2. Dallas City Performance Hall
Dallas City Performance Hall

Accordingly, we got tickets for one of the Remix Concerts organized by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and held at the Dallas City Performance Hall. The concert started at 7. There was also a live tango performance in the foyer at 6, as well as free snacks, like mini empanadas, and drinks, which we had to pay for. We brought together our two cultures by ordering a cuba libre (me) and a gin and tonic (Sean).

7. Dallas City Performance Hall
Dallas City Performance Hall foyer. The spire of the Cathedral of Guadalupe in the background.

We hung out, drinking and nibbling, people- watching and chatting. It was fun and relaxed. I though I’d match the evening’s theme by wearing a short black dress, a red jacket and a red flower in my hair. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines!

11. Dallas City Performance Hall
Red and black theme

It was open seating. I must say I was impressed by the concert hall. It’s not too big –as these places go- and modern and cozy at the same time. And the seats are comfortable.

It was conductor Tito Muñoz’ debut with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and he put together tonight’s concert. His idea was to “keep it light and fun… all these pieces are fun.”

18. Dallas City Performance Hall
Inside the Dallas City Performance Hall, ready for the concert to begin

The first part of the program was Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks (1938), Tempo giusto – Allegretto – Con moto. It was a 15 piece ensemble. I’m not a music critic or connoisseur but I enjoyed the music very much.

Then came the tango. It was Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro estaciones porteñas.) This time there were 35 musicians on stage. I absolutely loved it. The music took me back home. It brought images of the streets of Buenos Aires, its iconic buildings, its chaotic traffic, its people. It captured the atmosphere of the city perfectly. Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla revolutionized the world of tango with his nuevo tango style and his pieces capture the essence of Buenos Aires. The Four Seasons is a good example. The audience seemed to like it as well, as there was a standing ovation.

20. Dallas City Performance Hall
The full orchestra

The concert ended with Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, Spring (1841) with the full orchestra this time. It was magical.

Another well-deserved standing ovation to end this wonderful evening.

Art, wine and good company (i.e. Hubby)

Every year, Savor Dallas organizes a food and wine festival whose motto is “Celebrating Wine, Food and the Arts.” This two-day event takes place in late March, Friday and Saturday. Many events are held on the Saturday, like lunches, classes, tastings and the International Grand Tasting.

By far, my favourite event takes place on the Friday: the Arts District Wine Stroll. The idea is that you stroll from one venue to the other, tasting wine, beer and spirits and eating good food. You’re given a wristband and a wineglass when you check in. You have to return the glass before going out because it is illegal to carry an open container of alcohol in the street. Even if you’re walking and not driving.

The Nasher's gardens

The four venues are the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Meyerson Symphony Center and the Winspear Opera House, all located in my favourite part of Dallas, the Arts District.

We bought our tickets in advance online. They cost $35, which is a great deal considering you can taste as much wine as you can and eat great food provided by local restaurants. There is even a dress code: smart casual, which makes the whole thing special. And the good thing is that although there always are a lot of people, it isn’t insanely crowded like other food and wine events here, especially in the summer. Crowds and heat: bad, bad combo.

Last year we had time to do the symphony center and the opera house. We had such a good time and there was such a good vibe that we decided we had to do it again. This year we started at the Nasher Sculpture Center gardens. It was beautiful. We strolled around the sculptures, sipping wine, taking photos, watching people, sampling good food. I was reluctant to go to the next venue.

Last year, at the Winspear

Since the whole thing lasts only two hours, from 5 till 7, we had enough time to go to the DMA and taste a couple of wines and eat some cheese and crackers.

It was all so civilized and genteel. I thoroughly enjoyed this event.

Last year's event
This year, at the Nasher

Dallas for culture vultures

Dallas may not be internationally renowned for its world-class museums or opera houses but that’s not to say there isn’t some culture in the Big D.

Dallas Museum of Art

The city’s cultural epicenter is the Arts District, located a few block southwest of downtown Dallas. This is one of my favourite areas not least because it’s pedestrian friendly, a rare occurrence in this town where everything is spread out and the car is king.

The Dallas Museum of Art is the biggest museum in the city by far. Its permanent collection ranges from wonderful Aztec artifacts to colonial furniture to African art. Their Late Nights are fun: the museum stays open until late on a Friday once a month and there is live music.

The Nasher Sculpture Center is across the street from the DMA. They sell a combined ticket for both museums that is a little cheaper.  I think that the Nasher’s best feature is its gardens. There, modern sculpture (including one by one of my favourite artists, Henry Moore) seamlessly blend with nature. The cafe terrace has gorgeous views. Highly recommended.

Nasher Sculpture Center

Across the Woodall Rogers Freeway from the DMA and the Nasher are the Meyerson Symphony Center and the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Both concert venues are sleek and modern.

A short walk from the Winspear are some other Dallas landmarks, like the Belo Mansion, the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Dallas’ Catholic cathedral (in case you haven’t noticed) and the First United Methodist Church (circa early 1900s)

The Meyerson

A while ago I signed up for a walking tour of the area, which I didn’t take because I showed up on the wrong day (hey! I can see you rolling your eyes!). Since it was a lovely spring morning, I decided to create my own private tour. I ambled to the First United Methodist Church  -I like to visit churches- but it was closed. I started chatting with the gardener tending to a flowerbed. One thing led to another and then he called a mate of his who was inside and asked him to unlock the doors for me.

Thy say that God helps those who help themselves.

First United Methodist Church