There was a time when the Irish flooded across the Atlantic grabbing bargains in malls like Woodbury Common but the strong dollar has seen a slowdown in travel shopping. However, with the Euro making a slow comeback I arrived in to Dallas FW Airport with an empty suitcase to see if I could make up my fare like we used in the halcyon days. I booked my flight in the January sales for €498 − good value to the United States despite travelling to Heathrow to get a direct connection. I stayed at The Fairmont Hotel, located conveniently Downtown, close to the arts district and buzzing McKinney Avenue where the best restaurants can be found. The views from our hotel room were on par with JRs office! Great coffee making facilities and a huge bathroom are another bonus.
My travelling companion is an avid shopper and accountant, great help when working out conversion rates. We set off on our first excursion to the highly recommended Stampede 66 Texas restaurant. The decor is very cool with wire sculpted horses protruding from the ceiling. Dallas is buzzing and it’s no surprise as the state of Texas has the 13th richest economies in the world, on par with Saudi Arabia.
After dinner, the Fairmont Hotel sent its courtesy car to collect us FOC and brings us to Reunion Tower. It’s just one of the nice luxuries included in our room rate in a hotel and ten minutes later we are on the Geodeck, observation point on the 68th floor. With spectacular views of the Dallas skyline it’s well worth a visit day or night and helped us to get our bearings. For an outlay of $44 the Dallas CityPass booklet covers the entrance charge. The CityPass is good value and covers admission into four major attractions, good value for a weekend sightseeing.
We took a cab to Deep Ellum next, the trendy music district for the rest of the evening. Most of the bars have live bands with no cover charge. We choose The Free Man, a Cajun bar and lounge, where the beer is reasonably priced and the band exceptionally good.
Next morning, thirty minutes by car took us to The Grand Prairie Premium Outlets, which opens at 10am and where designer and name brands are at savings of 25% to 65% everyday. We found great shops and excellent value at Columbia and Aeropostale. I brought a cardboard cut out of my daughter’s foot to help find a pair of runners in the Nike store. I picked up a pink pair of trainers for just over $30. The Vans store also offered savings. For my tween daughter, Justice is perfect and one of the last stores that can’t be found in Ireland. Everything in the shop had 30% off on the new season range. Reasonably priced trendy gear and different to all that will be seen on the streets of Dublin. The Converse store was another with great offers – two Tshirts for $25 working out at just over €10 each.
A brand purchase like a Micheal Kors handbag is where real savings can be made and a big purchase like an engagement ring from Jared Vault could save the price of flights or hotel or both. It’s worth noting that US gold carat measurements can be different to those commonly used in Europe. The exchange rate doesn’t mean that all items are as cheap as they used to be but they are definitely about 30% overall cheaper than at home. Shoes are up to 50% cheaper in some cases. The food hall was great for lunch with a choice of Asian or local food and before we maxed out our credit cards we decided it was best to return to the Fairmont and offload our bags.
The hotel courtesy car brought us to the Sixth Floor Museum and Book depository, saving on taxi fare. The sixth floor museum is a must do. It takes visitors through the final hours of JFKs life and I left with more questions than answers about who actually killed him. The Grassy Knoll is marked with a bright yellow banner and the actual spot where the president was shot is marked in the middle of the road by a white x.
With spring in the air the Dallas arboretum is a wonderful attraction and including the admission to the Sixth floor museum we have already more than made up the price of our CityPass. Art isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Dallas but any city that is booming and prosperous has funds to support the arts. The Dallas Museum of Art is currently showing an exhibition of Dutch masters including Vermeers. The space and interactive information areas makes this one of the most impressive galleries that I have been to in a while.
The city that gave us hours of viewing in the 80s, and where the much beloved JFK came to a sad end proved to be a wonderful destination for a fun filled weekend.
For more information visit www.visitdallas.com
Fights to Dallas with www.United.com start from €600
Shopping information see
www.simon.com or www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/grand-prairie
Register online to download coupons and make savings
Dallas City Pass is $44
For Fairmont Hotel details see the www.fairmont.com/dallas
Rates start for a double room from $255pn