Category Archives: Restaurants & Bars

the yums and the not so yums

Seeking Standard Service

Photo from Yelp

TRAVEL HERE:  SECRET SERVICE MIGHT BE A BETTER NAME FOR ROCKWALL’S NEW RESTAURANT

If you lived in the Rockwall area and I told you a new restaurant was located behind the Sonic on Ridge Way, you’d have a clue about where to look, but unless you actually went behind the Sonic, you’d never find Standard Service.  The restaurant fills a space on the back side of a crossfit gym.  The only signage is on the front of the restaurant and can’t be seen from any of the nearby streets.  You’d never see it if you turned next to the Sonic and headed to Lowe’s, which is the destination of most of the traffic.

My Secret Agent 

Loree Posard Kiethly does my hair and she’s my primary source of info about what’s happening in Rockwall.  I have no idea who all sits in her chair, but they have the inside scoop on all kinds of things, from what restaurants will open soon to where the local swingers rendezvous.

“Have you been to Standard Service?”  I thought she’d found a new garage or service station, but come to find out it was a new restaurant.  Then she told me its location – near a corner I pass pretty much every time I come or go to my house.  I didn’t want to accuse my friend of lying, but it sure didn’t sound like a good spot for a restaurant and I certainly hadn’t seen it.

The gist of her information was that a restaurateur opened Standard Service as test, because he was considering building near The Harbor.  As soon as he opened the awkward test location, he instantaneously had a loyal following, so the lake-view restaurant is a go.  Obviously, a trip to Standard Service was required.

The Standard on a Sunday Afternoon

Our visit to Standard Service was on a Sunday afternoon in May.  Perhaps the traffic was slow because of May’s many distractions, like moms and grads and brides.  We also arrived mid-afternoon, rather than at a meal time.  Most of the patrons were at the bar gazing into the multiple tv’s spread around the restaurant.

Bill and I walked away from the experience with two totally different impressions.  He loved the place.  The tall shelves full of wine and liquor were fascinating to him.  He thought it had a good vibe for a local place and a good number of patrons for a Sunday afternoon.  He didn’t particularly like what he ordered, but said he’d come back and try something else.  He couldn’t wait to get home and tell a friend who’s opening a liquor store about the tall shelves.

That wasn’t me.  To me the layout was confusing.  We entered a foyer that seemed like a dead end.  Once we got our bearings we saw double glass doors to the right.  There seemed to be two bars, one on each side.  The primary bar is to the right and then another smaller one is on the left.  There aren’t many tables.  The look is industrial, complete with the exposed air conditioning ducts – not one of my favorites.

The service is good enough to put a lie to the name of the restaurant, but I wasn’t crazy about the food.  It wasn’t bad.  The small burger had an unnecessarily greasy bun in my estimation, but it did have a reasonable price.  The sweet potato fries were the food hit of the day.

Much of the things I don’t like about Standard Service have to do with my personal taste, so that should be taken into consideration.  The industrial look of it, the televisions all over the place, the paper service items – these might be the very reason you would visit, but they don’t beg me to come back.

So, should you go visit Standard Service?  If you live out here in Rockwall County – I’d say, for sure.  If you’re out here anyway, you might as well, because while our restaurant selections have been improving since I got here a few years ago, this is about as good as it gets.  No reason to drive over from Dallas until the new place by the lake gets built.

Come on back Wednesday, for tales about the Fairmount in Heliopolis, Egypt and then next week I’ll share another Dallas area adventure.

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Shopping Extravaganza

Another Lazy Afternoon at Watter’s Creek

TRAVEL HERE: WATTER’S CREEK AND THE ALLEN OUTLET MALL

Having safely escaped the Lavender Festival, Deb and I pursued a couple of our favorite pastimes, holiday or no holiday – dining and shopping.  Come along with us.

It Shouldn’t Have Been a Secret

I’d been keeping a secret from my bestie and didn’t even realize it.  Watter’s Creek is a favorite haunt of my husband’s.   The whole multi-purpose development is built around a charming open space.  A grassy hill slopes down to a creek.  Water fowl wander among gleeful children.  A sampling of beautiful people hang out on the patios of a handful of restaurants surrounding the park.  It’s a relaxing oasis from the hustle and bustle, with just enough hustle and bustle of its own to be entertaining.  Many a Sunday afternoon Bill and I make our way to Watter’s Creek for an early supper.  A quick perusal the pictures in my Facebook feed could verify that I’ve made several attempts to notify the world of this pleasant place to hang out.

There’s another reason I didn’t realize Deb was unaware of the charm of Watter’s Creek.  Countless times we’ve shopped the Allen Outlet Mall and then gone to Watter’s Creek and had lunch at Brio, usually on the patio.  I can’t begin to count the number of times Deb and I have lingered on that patio solving the world’s problems and venting over some of our more irritating challenges.  I could have sworn that at least one of those meals ended at DSW, checking out the clearance racks, but I guess not.

As we discussed where to have lunch, we tipped our hat to Brio, but Deb was in the mood for adventure.  When I told her there were other great restaurants in the same complex she gave me an accusing look.  I’d been holding out on her!  She thought the whole thing was an apartment complex with Brio and a Cheesecake Factory stuck next to the highway.  She navigated her car to Watter’s Creek and I directed her around the side of our usual hangout and into the main shopping area.  She immediately loved it.  We parked in one of the garages and headed to a restaurant I had mentioned.

As we strolled, I realized the restaurant ratio at Watter’s Creek was rising.  Bill and I had peeked in the window of the Village Burger Bar, but had never even seen Firewater Kitchen and Bar at the end of the row.  Deb and I turned a corner headed to what I thought was Savor, a tasting restaurant Bill and I had enjoyed on one of our visits – but Savor had become The Cellar.  It looked more barish than foodish, so I recommended we head around the corner to Bonnie Ruth’s Cafe.

A New Favorite is Found

At Bonnie Ruth we opted for the patio and almost immediately declared it our new favorite.  One of the reasons Deb and I are such fast friends is that we love the same things and one of the things we really love is al fresco dining.  If food is good inside a restaurant, it’s our opinion that it’s even better on the patio.  Hubby will join me al fresco – if the weather is perfect, the sun is at the right angle and he’s in the mood.  For Deb and I, there either has to be a snowstorm or pounding rain to deter us from choosing the patio.  Otherwise we’ll at least try to convince the hostess to let us sit out there.

I’m glad to finally have someone who loves Bonnie Ruth the way I do. I’ve tried to indoctrinate Bill, but he’s resisted me.  We’d visited the Frisco location several times and it just didn’t click with him.  I’ve suggested it several times at Watter’s Creek, but he’s always more interested in the restaurants that border on the park, so he can watch the beautiful people and the ducks.  So I sigh and follow him to another choice.

I even tried to get Mom to enjoy Bonnie Ruth’s back when we spent our Thursdays together.  As most of you know, she now spends all her days on a higher plane, but I still keep a catalog of restaurants to try out on her.  See, Mom loved to eat out, but had you been her chauffeur, as I was for many years, you wouldn’t think so.

Finding Restaurants for Ruth

Mom was perpetually on the look out for the perfect cafe.  It needed to have sandwiches, soups and salads – and there were extra points for quiche.  She didn’t want to stand in line to order.  They should have tablecloths and eschew serving food in paper or plastic.  Servers should be attentive and the price had to be right.  That’s a pretty tall order.

Most sandwich and soup places, like La Madeline, Panera and Corner Bakery, start with a line, have bare table tops and the service never adds up.  Then for some reason none of my other favorites, like Bonnie Ruth’s or Lavendou’s, passed her test.  Lunch time would roll around and I would start listing every spot I could think of, but she’d keep that I-don’t-think-so look on her face until I thought I’d expire from exasperation.  Then she’d happily settle for Cantina Laredo, Chili’s or some other place that didn’t match any of the criteria she’d spelled out for the perfect cafe.  She didn’t do al fresco at all.  I loved her, but not for the same reasons I love Deb!

The Yes Hook at Cabi’s

Back to Bonnie Ruth’s Patio

So there I sat on a lovely patio drinking a glass of wine with my bestie.  Heaven – short and simple.  The food was good.  I had a sandwich with poached pear and cheese on delicious bread.  Deb thought she was ordering a Chicken Pecan Salad sandwich, but she ended up with just the salad.  Both were delicious, but the poached pear number won the day.  I’d tell you the name of it, but it’s not on the menu on their website.  We topped it off with some insane chocolate cake drenched in praline sauce.  No calories there, right?

After dessert we hit a few stores.  One was DSW where I got four delightful pairs of shoes for about $60.  In case math is not your strong point, that’s an average of $15 each.  Bestie paid more than my total for one pair of shoes to work out in.  No wonder I don’t like to exercise.  Who wouldn’t rather have four pairs of shoes over one pair of sneakers!

Then we went on to our shopping mecca – Allen Outlet Mall.  Warning, there is all kinds of construction going on there, so your visit will be painful, but your pocketbook will be happy.  My two favorite stores are Cabi and White House/Black Market – and they didn’t disappoint this time either!  WH/BM offered up a pair of leather and suede jeans -originally $450 – that I got for $19.99.  There were a couple of pairs of leggings (suede fronts, stretch backs) that were originally $350 each – yep I got them for $19.99.  A pair of black capri’s and a black divided skirt wanted to come home with me for similar prices.  Cabi was having a 50% off sale that included clearance, so I dropped a few dimes there, too.  How can I resist buying size six trousers?

So, I went a little long today, but it was a fun day.  See you next week!

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Happy at Heathrow

Lunch at Huxley’s

TRAVEL THERE: A DEFINITELY DELIGHTFUL LAYOVER

No matter how pleasant an Atlantic-crossing flight may be, I need a break when it’s over.  Hanging out in an airport may not be the most fun I can have, but it can be some fun – and this time it was.  It had been a while since I’d been to Heathrow and I have nothing but nice things to say about it.

Welcome to Heathrow

Our bags were checked through to Cairo, which was a blessing, but we had to change terminals.  That’s never fun.  At Heathrow that means you take a bus to the first terminal, follow the purple signs forever, take another bus to the other terminal and get delivered to a skillfully-organized dime-dropping opportunity.

After our brisk walk following the purple signs, I was ready for lunch.  We arrived in the departure lounge and were a bit overwhelmed.  This place is a shopper’s paradise and they have some pretty good food, too.  After checking out the possibilities at the terminal map, we made our way to a place that sounded sort of pub-ish.

My Post Fish & Chips Grin

Hungry at Huxley’s

One nice thing about Heathrow was their choice of restaurants.  You weren’t stuck with your usual food court choices.  I was craving authentic fish and chips, so we made our way to Huxley’s, described on the Heathrow website this way: 

“With its handsome dark-wood chequerboard floor and leather banquette seating, Huxleys could pass for a new-wave gastropub, but the menu has no such pretensions. Expect simple compilations of the best ingredients: slow cooked pork belly, old English pork sausages and 21 day aged steak. Thick-cut sandwiches, pie and mash, all-day breakfasts, beer battered fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding continue the British theme. “

I had to look no further than front and center on the menu to figure out what I wanted and Huxley’s did not disappoint.  The British Classic was everything my taste buds had been craving – and the minted peas?  Marvelous!  Bill had some sort of sandwich and a beer.  I wanted a beer, but I opted for a diet soda instead.  I was still trying to watch my weight at that point and I was busting the calorie budget with my beer-battered fish.

As we waited for our food to be served we observed what others were having and admired something called an Eton Mess as it was delivered to another table.  Fresh strawberries, crushed meringue, whipped cream and ice cream.  What was there not to like?  We toyed with the idea of finishing our meal with the same, but there was no room in the tummy after I inhaled all the gorgeous fish and chips.

Let’s Go Shopping

To me, the star of the shopping mall was Harrod’s.  Not only is it a British classic, the space it occupied was spectacular.  I saw at least six things that I wanted to come home with me before I even entered the shop.

Bill was attracted to the duty-free shopping.  That’s where he discovered that I had been right about the Jack Black Scotch.  We could have bought it for a great price at the airport and not had to sacrifice pounds in our luggage.

There was another little shop that represented another brand now associated with all things British.  I’m not a Hogwart fan, but I had to take this picture for Hannah Beth.  We were able to enjoy both floors of the Heathrow Terminal 5 shopping opportunity before they posted our gate on the departure monitors, but we managed to keep the credit cards in our pockets.

I caught up on my travel journal – it’s always quite detailed in the beginning, but by the end of the trip I’m not such a faithful diarist.  I wandered around a bit, trying to take advantage of this chance to stretch my legs.  I also made my pre-boarding potty stop.  That’s when I found this guy biding me farewell and  I couldn’t resist capturing him for you.

Our flight was called and we boarded.  Come back next week for our exciting arrival in Cairo!

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And She’s Back

In the Fairmont Heliopolis

TRAVEL THERE: AN EXTRAORDINARY EGYPTIAN ADVENTURE

I just got back from Egypt and I want you to visit this amazing country.  You’re not going to believe some of the exciting adventures I had while I was there.  I hope that as you read my blog in the coming months, you’ll start planning your own trip in your head.  As much as I want you to go, I have always been totally honest with you – sharing the good and the bad.  So it is only fair that I start this series by warning you that Egypt is not an easy country to visit.  You have to overlook a lot to see what is valuable, but there is great value.  In the coming weeks I will rave about spectacular hotels and jaw-dropping sites, but I have to start here, with the not-so-pleasant reality of Egypt today.

Apartment Buildings

Then and Now

This was my second trip to Egypt.  The first was in 1996 when terrorism was an occasional, rather than a daily, thing and the only terror incident associated with Egypt was an attack on a busload of tourists in 1990.  The world has changed a lot since then.  Days before I was scheduled to leave for this trip, bombs went off in two different Coptic Churches.  It didn’t stop us from going, but it did give us pause.  It shouldn’t stop you from going either, but you need to know what you’re getting into.

The imminent threat of violence was the most obvious difference between this trip and the one we enjoyed twenty years ago.  Security was a pervasive presence, everywhere we went – whether we were visiting a museum, an airport or a church.  Every time we entered our hotel we had to put all our belongings through a scanner and ourselves through a metal detector.  I was glad for the security, but saddened by the need for it.

It was the same thing pretty much everywhere we went and you just got tired of it.  Take a romantic walk on the beach and come back to the hotel for a thorough search.  By the time you prove you have a right to be there and you don’t have any WMD’s, the romance has dissipated.  This adds to the stress of travel and distracts from your ability to really relax.

One evening we accompanied a niece and her husband to a hotel where they stayed on their honeymoon.  They wanted to take a walk down memory lane.  Our taxi went through one inspection at the gate to the property and we were put through a thorough search at the front door.  Then as we headed out to the pool to look around, we were stopped because we were not actually guests at the hotel.  We had to go to the front desk, explain ourselves, show them our room keys to a sister property in town and give them a passport to hold before we were allowed into the pool area.  By the time we actually made it down there, we had more thoughts about the intrusion of security than we did Maggie and Shady’s honeymoon.

Forget Lowe’s or Home Depot, Shop for Home Improvements Streetside

Related Changes

The threat of terrorism has devastated the country.  Tourism has been at the center of Egypt’s economy for a very long time, but  they have nothing to take its place and little with which to woo the tourists who actually show up.  Yes, they have some of the most splendid sights in the world, like The Pyramids, Luxor Temple, The Valley of the Kings and such, but the hassle associated with visiting them is challenging.

I thought Egypt was the dirtiest place I had ever visited the last time I went.  Well, now it is beyond dirty.  It’s down right filthy and much of it has been abandoned.  Whole blocks of Cairo and Alexandria’s city centers are just empty graffiti-covered buildings, surrounded by piles of trash.  Everywhere we went, unfinished new construction showed signs of being abandoned years ago, when their hope of an Arab Spring turned into a nightmare.  Don’t plan on wearing the same clothes over and over.  A day of touring will render you and everything you are wearing disgusting.  You either need to pack more or plan on a budget for laundry.

An Egyptian Family on a Motorcycle

And Then There’s the People

Egyptians, as a whole, are wonderful.  They are happy people who want to get to know you and they love pleasing you.  They want you to love their country the way they do, but right now they are a little embarrassed – as if you caught them between working in the yard and getting a shower.  They’ll point you towards the freshly planted flowers, hoping you won’t notice how dirty and sweaty they are.

However, they are also frustrated and tired.  At almost every hotel we observed someone having a meltdown in the lobby and it was usually an Egyptian guest.  Life is hard.  The economy is impossible.  Traffic is horrendous.  Everything is harder to do than it should be and after a ten minute walk your white shirt just isn’t white anymore.  Still, given the chance, most of them will bend over backwards to accommodate you and try to create a smile.

At the same time, we noticed there is also a trend that distances the female population from visitors.  There was a greater number of women completely covered from head to toe.  During our last visit, most women dressed very conservatively and the majority covered their heads, often with a bright colorful scarf.  Many would be sharply dressed, while sporting a more conservative hijab.  There were some who wore the more old-fashioned gallabeya  and hijab, but only a rare woman was covered and veiled in black.

This time gallabeyas and hijabs were the norm.  Young women wore leggings or jeans with a tunic, but the hijabs were everywhere and they were not brightly colored scarves, but solid blocks of neutral colors.  However, women covered from head to toe in black were no longer rare and I noticed most of them also wore black gloves.  They were moving shadows with just a sliver of their eyes showing – distant, aloof, unapproachable.

In the Cairo Museum we saw a young couple taking a selfie.  The woman was completely covered in black.  We wondered at the incongruity of hiding yourself and then taking a selfie.  The young man’s outfit was standard casual fare, but she was covered in plain black without even a bit of embroidery.  A lot of mixed messages there.

So I will tell you the story of our trip.  I’ll remind you of the difficulties from time to time, but I’ll leave it to you to remember that everything was dirty, inconvenient and noisy, whether I mention it or not.  Come back next week and we’ll hit the road.

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Egypt Here We Come

TRAVEL THERE: CAIRO, SHARM & ALEX

In less than a month we’ll be winging our way to Egypt for a family wedding.  While it’s primarily a family trip, you can rest assured that Museum Girl will be taking in the sights.  The itinerary is firming up and I thought I’d share a few highlights.

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

As excited as I am about the rest of the trip, the reason we’re going is to participate in Bassem and Mariam’s wedding.  We’re all agog with excitement.  Bill and I will arrive in Cairo late in the evening on a Saturday night and be whisked away to the Fairmont in Heliopolis.  On Sunday afternoon we’ll attend a luncheon for all the families at an “oriental” restaurant.  When I wondered why we were having Chinese food, I learned Egyptians call Middle Eastern food “oriental.”  I learn something new every day.

Monday is the day of the wedding, and it is also a national holiday, so I’m told I will see the residents of Cairo enjoying themselves in parks and other areas of leisure.  I’ll spend the day getting all gussied up for the wedding.  Egyptians know how to party and they expect guests, especially the couple’s families, to get all decked out.  I’ll be wearing a long formal gown bedazzled with crystal beads.  For the church ceremony I’ll wear a sheer over-blouse cinched by a jeweled belt, which will cover the spaghetti-strapped straight bodice of the full-skirted gown. Pictures to follow.

Let the Sightseeing Begin

On the day after the wedding we’ll be transported to the elegant Mena House Hotel, in the shadows of the pyramids.  Some folks tried to convince me to hire a guide for sightseeing for the day, but 8:30 AM was entirely too early to start a day of touring, especially after partying late into the night in the ballroom of the gorgeous Fairmont.

So instead, we’ve arranged to be transported mid-day and ease into the sightseeing.  We’ll enjoy the gardens of the Mena House, walk around with our mouths agape at the splendid architecture of the place, dine around the pool and then watch the Sound & Lightshow at the Pyramids from our room’s balcony. Who knows, there might even be time for a dip in the pool.  Personally, I plan to have at least one picture of me taken in the pool with the Pyramids behind me.

Then we’ll do the Pyramids.  Since we’ve already done the Giza Plateau, I plan to go further afield and check out the Step Pyramid at Saqqara and the Red Pyramid at Dahshour.  I’m also interested in the Meidum Pyramid, but I’ve been told it is too far out – drat.  Instead we’ll go back to Giza and see the Solar Boat Museum, something that’s been added since our last visit.

A Family Reunion Extraordinaire

After our second night at Mena House, we’ll head to the airport and make the short hop to Sharm el Sheikh.  Some of the family lives in the beautiful city by the Red Sea and others will have gone there when we headed to Giza.  We’ll have a family reunion of sorts for about five days along one of the most spectacular beaches in the world.

The diving and snorkeling are supposed to be awesome, but I’m not much of a guppy.  You’ll find me at the  Marriott Naama Bay Resort pool with an exotic cocktail of my choice somewhere near the waterfall.  Yes, the beach is beautiful, but no way am I going to smear sunscreen all over and then sit in the sand all day.  Not this girl’s idea of a good time.  I’ve been promised activities like a star-gazing visit to the desert, some shopping opportunities and other attractions.

In the evening, look for me along the boardwalk.  It’s one of my favorite memories of our last journey to Egypt.  Every evening the tourists come out in all their sunburned glory to stroll along and enjoy the wide variety of entertainment available on every side. On our last visit the Macarena was all the rage.  I  wonder what earworm will bite me this time.

On to Alex!

We’ll fly back to Cairo and then have a driver take us to Alexandria where we’ll be in the center of the action at the Cecil Hotel.  This elegant old dame gives a nod to Alexandria’s heyday with plenty of modern updates.  What’s more, I’m supposed to be within walking distance of many of the sites I want to see – that is if I can ever cross the street.  I remember the traffic being deadly in Cairo and Alexandria is supposed to be more of the same.  Pedestrians don’t have the right of way and stoplights are merely suggestions.  I’ll be right across the street from the beach, but may never actually get to the sand!

My wish list for Alexandria is long and includes a visit to a Coptic monastery on the way back to Cairo.  Once back to Cairo, we’ll visit Old Cairo and seeing the famous churches there, something I never got to during our other visit.  I think we’ll spend our final nights at the Fairmont.  We have to be to the airport bright and early for our return.  Then it’s back to the grindstone!

That’s it so far for Egypt.  Keep dropping by.  I’m not sure what I’ll be up to in the weeks to come, but I promise not to disappear.

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The Young Monet at the Kimbell

wife-on-beach02202017TRAVEL HERE: DID YOU MISS IT?
Seems like I’m doing a lot of apologizing of late and here I go again!  There’s been a wonderful exhibition on the young Monet at the Kimbell in Fort Worth and even though I’ve been several times, I didn’t tell you about it.  By way of atonement I’ll warn you that another Impressionist and European Masters show is on its way in May.  In the meantime, I’ll fill you in on what you missed, if you did, in fact, miss it.

Early Monet

Monet is a known entity for most of us.  He’s that Impressionist guy who did all the water lily paintings.  Over the years, the Kimbell has offered several very good Monet exhibitions, so those of us in the DFW Metroplex have had a better than average chance to get to know him.  One of the reasons is a large beach scene in shades of gray and brown – more Van Gogh than Monet when you first look at it.  This shoreline landscape was the first piece Monet showed in a Beaux Art Salon and the Kimbell owns it.  That’s how it gets all the good exhibitions.  Want to borrow my Monet?  Include me in the exhibition schedule! 

Thanks to them (and lots of study on my own) I knew Impressionism was something Monet grew into.  He started out as a fine landscape painter in the traditional sense, but grew into less exacting ways of capturing a scene.  Most of us know another reason for his style is related to his vision.  As he grew older his eyesight got worse and he painted what he saw.  That’s the reason some paintings of Venice ,from late in his life, look almost as if he abandoned representational painting altogether.

I had all this floating around in my mind, but this latest exhibit fleshed out what I had learned.  The exhibition took him from a very traditional landscape painted in his teens, through his first Salon painting and on to the height of Impressionism.

You may be wondering why I don’t just quit jabbering a go ahead and show you some art.  Fine!

 

The most delicious painting I can’t show you, because they didn’t have a postcard.  It was a scrumptious snow scene, which at first glance seemed to be all white, but then the more you looked at it, the more color you could see.  Then there were all the bittersweet paintings showing the rift, his art and significant other caused, between him and his family of origin.  Oh, and the luscious picture of the melon with the blue and white china…. Well you get the idea!

Joe T.'s Fiesta Garden

Joe T.’s Fiesta Garden

Double Dipping

One of the reasons I feel so bad about leaving you out of the loop is that it’s not like I went during one of the last weeks and just missed by a few days.  I first went a few weeks after it opened with my bestie.  I made a day of it for her birthday.  That’s when I picked up all these postcards with the best of intentions and snapped this gorgeous shot at the entrance to Joe T’s wonderful Fiesta Garden.  Of course, we went to Joe T’s.

My second visit was with the Buffalo Gals.  In case you didn’t know, that’s the Bible Study group we have here in my neighborhood.  We’re on our fifth Beth Moore Bible Study together and we always take a play date to celebrate our friendship somewhere along the way.  Here’s a few shots of that expedition!  Come back next week, because I have to catch you up on what’s been happening at the DMA, too.

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Steel City Stories

birmingham02202017TRAVEL THERE: BIRMINGHAM FOR BUSINESS

My business is ministry and that ministry targets Central Asia and the Middle East, so I can’t always be an open book about where I go and why.  However, I can tell you I made a visit to Birmingham, Alabama for business at an unspecified time for an unspecified reason.  While I can’t give you those details, I can tell you some of the stories related to the trip.

The Crack of Dawn

In the DFW Terminal

In the DFW Terminal

My traveling companion for this particular trip was my work buddy and good friend, Hannah Beth.  I’m old enough to be her mother and she’s gracious enough to treat me as if I’m her age, and I love it.  Our flight to Birmingham was ridiculously early and we had to bring along some signage, so both of us were concerned about getting there, getting checked in and getting on the flight.  In our eagerness we got to the airport hours before we needed to.  We were there so early I had plenty of time to walk around and take pictures of the mosaics on the floor.

over-easyAn Over Easy Arrival

We arrived in Birmingham in time for breakfast.  While I’m used to being the tour guide pretty much anywhere I go, I was happy to turn the reins over to Hannah Beth on this trip.  Her sister goes to school there, so she has the inside track.  She proved that when she took us to Over Easy.  She had a breakfast-something and I had lunch-something.  Both were delicious.

The decor and atmosphere was very California:  modernesque  furniture and semi-hippie waitstaff.  Because it was a late morning on a weekday, most of the clientele were students who didn’t have early classes and a few moms who’d dropped the older kids off at school.

We arrived at the restaurant via her sister’s campus.  We Uber-ed there from the airport.  I’m not a natural Uber-er, but Hannah Beth treats it like it’s her second car.  We may work together like two peas in a pod, but we do come from opposite sides of the generation gap.  At the campus, we picked up her sister’s car – another evidence of working in ministry.  No rental cars or swanky hotels.

Speaking of the lack of swanky hotels, we stayed in a La Quinta.  Don’t get me wrong.  There was nothing wrong with the place.  It was clean and convenient.  The breakfast was good.  It was a fine place to stay, but let’s face it two stars is not exactly plush.

So that’s the basics – an early morning flight, a little transportational shuffle, a hearty breakfast and an economy hotel.  The rest of the meals were either breakfast at the hotel or something served to us at the thing I can’t tell you about.  However, this was me and I had Hannah Beth with me.  Adventures are in store.  By the way, Birmingham is called the Steel City, because it used to be the home of most of the world’s steel mills.  More about that next week, so please come back to visit.

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Filed under Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL, United States