Travel There: Friends Are Worth the Effort

It takes a long time to grow and old friend!

It takes a long time to grow an old friend!

Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest do not make up for face time. Sure it’s great to read that tweet or see a picture, but even the next best thing to being there isn’t as good as actually being there.

The Disco Kings of Virginia Beach

In case you didn’t already know, the guy on the left is my long-suffering husband, Bill.  Next to him is Ludger.  They met as young men.  Bill was from Egypt, building a career in food management.  Ludger, from Germany, worked for a sports equipment company based in his home town.  Somehow, in the seventies, these two immigrants met one another, became roommates and built a friendship that has endured through the years.

Fast Forward to the Nineties

Regardless of their disco nights, Bill and Ludger’s both went on to have very successful careers.  Ludger eventually became the VP of American operations for his company.  Bill moved to Dallas, transitioned into technology and built a profitable computer hardware company.  When Bill and I called Ludger to tell him we were engaged, we discovered we’d only beat Ludger to the news by a few moments.  He and Tammy were about to pick up the phone and share the same news with us.

Ludger and Tammy came to Dallas for our wedding.  A few weeks later, we went to Germany for theirs.  What’s more, we even went on their honeymoon.  When people say they’ve had the trip of a lifetime, they are talking about our trip to Germany.  From the beautiful wedding in an ancient cathedral to ballet in Schönbrunn Palace, it was a remarkable experience.

The Years in Between 

Life gets in the way of good intentions.  Tammy and Ludger set about having a family almost immediately.  Bill and I didn’t take that route.  Over the years the two couples found reasons to get together, but in truth, the occasions were few and far in-between.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault, we were all just very,very busy and we didn’t exactly live around the corner from one another.

A month or so ago we got a call from Tammy.  Ludger’s birthday was coming up and their whole family was going to an island paradise for the celebration.  Along the way, they’d have an overnight layover in Houston.  Was there any chance we could get to Houston to see them?  Are you kidding? Of course we’d make the four hour drive!  Their girls’ ages were in single digits the last time I saw them and since the youngest one is graduating from high school in June, that’s been a long time.  Though we’ve managed to connect here and there over the years, Bill more frequently than me, I have to confess I’d never even met their teen-aged son.

Surprise!

Ludger had no idea what was going on.  Tammy almost gave it away a couple of times, but was able to make the necessary saves.  Bill and I checked into the hotel a few hours before the family’s flight arrived and waited until they were seated in the restaurant downstairs before we made our appearance.  The result was the smiles you see above.

The reunion was joyous beyond description.  They invited us to tag along to their paradise, but we just had too many irons in the fire.  However, we don’t plan to let decades pass again before we all get together again.  Friendships are too valuable and the distractions we have either move away from home or pass away.

And Where Did We Stay for the Reunion?

Funny you should ask.  Here’s a review I wrote for Yahoo Voices: Battle of the Sexes Includes Hotel Amenities, because Bill and I had differing opinions about the Doubletree Inn.

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Travel Here: Local Universities – a Wealth of Entertainment

Support your local universities!

Support your local universities!

In an area like the DFW Metroplex, with so many voices calling for our attention, it’s easy to forget our schools offer many entertainment opportunities. What’s more, tickets for their productions cost only a fraction of what the pros want us to pay.

Play Ball!

Sports are an obvious example.  The worst seat at a college game will put you a lot closer to the action than the nosebleed section of any pro arena, yet you’re going to pay a lot less.  In some cities, that might mean tickets to a Podunkville game, but here that means top ranked teams like SMU and TCU – and the sports range from men’s football to women’s volleyball and everything in between.

But sports are just the beginning.  What’s your interest?  I assure you, at least one school in town is devoted to producing graduates in that area of study.  You like Jazz?  Check out UNT.  Chess?  See UTD. And that’s just a couple of examples.

Intellectual Property

Many of our schools have significant collections, exhibitions, libraries and museums.  Ever heard of the Meadows Museum?  It’s a spectacular museum of Spanish Art, right on the SMU campus.  Remember the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition a few years ago?  Southwest Seminary in Fort Worth was the host.  Did you know TCU had the Monnig Meterorite Gallery on it’s campus?  I didn’t either, until I googled TCU and poked around a little.

Would you like to learn more about anything, but don’t want to sign up for classes.  Then how about attending lectures from time to time.  I know SMU has an amazing lecture series, just from hearing advertisements of very famous people who will speak.  More interested in spiritual subjects, then check out Dallas Theological Seminary.  Lecture series are an integral part of most universities.

Singing, Dancing and Such

Any school with a fine arts department will have frequent exhibitions of the students’ creations.  I’m a graduate of UTD and if you click here, you can sign up for the Arts and Humanities mailing list to be notified of the exhibitions, poetry readings, concerts and more.   With a little clicking around, you could find the same thing at pretty much any university.

My husband and I enjoy these opportunities – when we remember to utilize them.  Thankfully, both UD and UTD, our alma maters, do a great job of reminding us to come see them.  Most recently we accepted UD’s invitation to see a dramatic production on campus.  Here’s the review I wrote for Yahoo: Chekov’s Three Sisters Presented at University of Dallas.

 

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Travel Here: Dallas Museum of Art Presents Exhibition of Islamic Art

Invitation to the NUR Preview

Invitation to the NUR Preview

NUR: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World Opens at the DMA

Though I loved absolutely everything about the recent preview party for NUR, I almost didn’t get there. Bill and I were working on a project and even though I’d reminded him, all day long, we had to finish up in time to get to the museum, when it was time to go, I was physically and emotionally drained.  “Maybe we should just blow it off,” I suggested.  Bill nearly fainted.  He knew I’d really been looking forward to the exhibit and preview party, so he all but scooped me up and put me in the car.

In the visor mirror, I tried to get my reflection to look like something other than a windblown mess, but I don’t think I did much good.  I was dressed right for the event, but I felt out of synch with the idea of having fun.  Though I usually have an event’s schedule committed to memory and a plan for getting the most out of it, on this day, I wasn’t even sure we were arriving at the right time.

As we waited for the elevator in the museum’s garage, I asked Bill if I’d given him the invitation and membership card.  He showed them to me and I took the invitation from him to look over the schedule.  As I studied the card, the elevator opened and I stepped in.

Now I know that you should always let the people off the elevator, before you enter, but I was operating on auto-pilot.  I’ve been going to the museum for after-hour events for decades.  It used to be that no one would be riding the elevators down.  Even so, I should have glanced up, right?  You’re absolutely right, but I didn’t.

As soon as my foot crossed the threshold, I knew something was wrong.  Some tardy alarm went off in my head, “People park down here for other stuff, you know!” I started apologizing before I even raised my head to see who I’d been rude to, but the offended party was already dressing me down for my faux pas – and in no uncertain terms, I might add.

You know when something happens in seconds, but you remember it in slow motion.  That’s how this situation went.  I dove into the corner to get out of the way as the offended party stepped out of the elevator.  My husband and a couple of other people followed me into the elevator and the doors closed.  Standing there outside the elevator was a mother holding a child, yelling at me.  The mother had switched from English to another language for good measure and her child began to howl.

As if I hadn’t already felt bad enough, now I was miserable.  I turned to the two strangers and tried to explain what happened.  Their sympathetic faces suggested that maybe I hadn’t been the rude one after all.  My husband, who is quick to point out the error of my ways, was red in the face.  I braced for the lecture, but all he had to say was directed at the woman who’d been so agitated at me.  When the elevator opened I asked him if he thought I should go back down and try to excuse myself for my mistake.  “Don’t you even think about it,” he warned.

Things got better after that.  We were late for what the invitation said was pre-lecture comments, but we did get up to the Founder’s Room before all the hors d’ oeuvres and wine were gone.  As we admired the re-purposing of the old restaurant and enjoyed the view from the Founder’s Room Balcony, Bill and I reminisced about meeting one another in that very place over twenty years ago.  The angry woman faded from my memory.

After a while, we moseyed down to see the exhibit and listen to the formal lecture and it was delightful.  Here’s what I said about it on Yahoo:   Islamic Art Shines in Dallas, Texas.  I hope you’ll take time to see the exhibit, but please remember your manners or you might run into a little elevator rage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel There: The Garden

I snapped this shot along the Three Capes Loop in Oregon.

I snapped this shot along the Three Capes Loop in Oregon.

And now for something completely different. The first thing I ever had published was a poem in a literary journal. It’s been a while since I penned any verse, but I submitted a favorite piece of poetry to Yahoo Voices to see what would happen. They published it! Here is is: http://voices.yahoo.com/weeds-12593572.html

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Travel Here: Great Wine Bars in Far North Dallas

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This was lunch at Mercy Wine Bar, not a centerpiece, and it was delicious.

Mercy Wine Bar Leads the Pack by More than a Small Margin

In a recent Yahoo Voices article, I praised Mercy Wine Bar.  The parameters of the assignment only allowed me four hundred words and I had to include three other wine bars, along with my favorite.  I was grateful for the assignment, but I could have bragged on Mercy for a lot more than four hundred words and never mentioned anyone else.

Great Word of Mouth

Before I ever went to Mercy Wine Bar I knew I was going to like it.  My bestie started raving about it several years ago, but I didn’t have much time for hanging out at wine bars, then. So I just put it on my wish list and kept on trucking.  The next time I heard good things about Mercy, I was talking to my nephew’s then-fiancee-now-wife.  She spoke from the complete opposite side of the generation chasm.  Now I was really interested.

The Bottom Line

Some of the places I frequent are favorites because of a specific dish or atmosphere, but I love Mercy because it’s a variety of experiences all at once, with great food and beverage, at a reasonable price.  I’ve had a quick lunch in the middle of the day. I’ve tasted wines out on the patio all of an afternoon.  I’ve met friends there, in the evening, to celebrate an occasion. Obviously my nephew appreciates the romantic factor.

I think you’ll like it, too.  The other wine bars I reviewed, all of which I enjoy, are: Sip & Savor, Ziziki’s Taverna and Cru.  Here’s a link to the article:  http://voices.yahoo.com/dallas-area-wine-bars-big-city-eclectic-choices-12582497.html.  And if you visit one of these great places, let me know what you think.

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Travel There: Yahoo!

Traveling Beyond the Boundaries of WordPress

Do you Yahoo?  Most of us belong to one Yahoo Group or another.  Some of us use Yahoo for email or as our search engine.  I have one friend who uses Yahoo as her primary news source.  Well, now I Yahoo in a big way and I hope it takes my writing career to the next level.

Surrounded by Fans at My First Poetry Reading

Surrounded by fans at my first poetry reading in 2008

A Writer’s Journey Towards Fame 

Most ordinary people I talk to (you know, the ones who don’t claim to be writers) think the hard part about writing is the writing.  Au contrare mon ami!  That’s the easy part – at least for me.  Finding an audience, especially one that wants to pay me, has been quite challenging – and from conversations with other writers, I know I’m not alone.

In the olden days, writers sat in their garrets writing their masterpieces and the agents and publishers were responsible for finding an audience for the work. Those days are gone.  Today, many writers find their own audience or “platform” through blogging and social media, bypassing traditional publication models.  Even if an author wins the publishing lottery and someone pays them an advance, the writer is expected to get out there and promote their book.

So while writers wait to be discovered, most of us pound the pavement of social media, trying to build a foundation for that elusive “platform” all agents want us to have.  And BTW, we wouldn’t mind finding a way to make a few bucks  while we’re at it. Free-lancing fills the gap for many people, before and after they’re famous.

Enter Yahoo

So, after reading a few blogs on the subject of freelancing and discussing it with several writers, I decided it was time to put my toe in the water.  I also needed to get a little experience under my belt before I started demanding big bucks for my valuable words.  I decided the least threatening and most helpful thing I could do was sign up for the Yahoo Contributor Network. (Writers, feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about writing for Yahoo.  I’ll be glad to send you the link.)

What that means for you, my faithful blog audience, is that if you like what’s here, you’ll probably like what’s there.  If you’ve been visiting for long, you know my blog is all about travel, so of course I’ll be writing travel articles for Yahoo, like this one: Lost Wedding Guests on an International Wild Goose Chase; but I’ll also get the chance to explore other subjects, such as the ones listed below:

(Disclosure:  Yahoo Voices pays its writers in several ways and one of them is a few cents per bazillion clicks, so if you click on one of the links above you are helping to feed a starving artist – me!)

Since this blog is about living in Dallas and traveling elsewhere, any Yahoo article about that will be mentioned here and you’ll see it whatever path you used to get here.  But if you’d like to keep up with my other articles (and help feed me by clicking on the links), then here are a couple of ways to do that:

  1. Go to my “Jane Sadek, Writer” Facebook Fan Page and like me.  (This new page is more writer-specific than my personal page, where I go to let it all hang out.  If you’re connected to my personal page, you’ll see less and less of the writer there.  On the Writer page, along with sharing some of the best of the Web, I’ll also post a link to all my Yahoo Voices articles whenever they come out.  As I spread my writer’s wings, the reach of the page will also expand.)
  2. Follow me on Twitter.  I browse through a lot of blogs everyday and share many good ones on my Twitter page, especially if they are related to travel or Dallas. I also post links to anything and everything of mine that gets published.
  3. Add me on Google+. I still haven’t figured it out yet, but I do post my publications there.  If you get it, then please explain it to me.
  4. Connect on Linked In. Since that’s about professional networking and I’m a writer, I’ll be posting many links there.

Thank You!

A final word – I’ve got the best friends in the world, in the flesh and digitally.  You guys have supported me in a million ways.  I took the time to explain this process, because from time to time someone will ask me what they can do to help me in my career.  This helps and if you enjoy browsing the internet, then I’d love to get all the clicks I can.  If following my personal Facebook page or occasionally reading one of my blogs is more your style, then please know, just having you among my buddies is an honor I cherish.

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Travel There: Stranded in a Frozen Dickens

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Galveston‘s 2013 Dickens-on-The-Strand Suffered from Chilblains! 

“You can’t always get what you want!”  The Rolling Stones were spot on with that one – especially when it came to this vacation.  The Polar Express gypped me out of my luminaries on the Riverwalk and then followed me to the beach.

My mom used to say things like, “If you had the sense God gave a goozle,” (and  I’m not exactly sure what a goozle is) but I’m sure my husband was thinking the same sort of thing as we froze our assets off, strolling down the Strand.

Important, but Chilly Anniversary 

I was expecting big things from this British-flavored festival with its side order of Victorian literature.  This was the fortieth Dickens-on-the-Strand and for the first time, it was a three day festival, not just an overnight flash in the pan.  What I didn’t expect was London!  Actually London has been warmer the few times I’ve been there.  This was more like the cold, wet, windy day I’d visited Coventry Cathedral and had nothing but a thin windbreaker between me and the chill.  I think that’s the coldest I’d ever been up until that day in Galveston.

Bill really does deserve the Champion Husband of the World Award – at least in the travel department.  Anyone with any sense would have headed back to Dallas after our frozen stay in San Antonio, but not me.  I was going to Dickens on the Strand and I had friends to see.  The friends were worth it.  Dickens? Not so much.  The festival may have been in full swing the day before, but on it’s inaugural first Sunday, it was a ghost story, and not in a cozy Christmas Carol way.

Still, we found a cheap place to park, walked several blocks to the entrance, paid our fee and landed virtually nowhere.  A few braves souls strolled the streets in their Victorian finery, but we had to decide who was dumber for showing up – us or them.  A few performers mounted stages and tried to entertain the lost souls wandering the Strand, but it was cold enough out there without stopping and standing in one place.  The greatest hub of activity was an area for steam-punk enthusiasts, an important factor in the popularity of the festival, but try as I may, I have very little, beyond a passing interest, in steampunk – and Bill had less than that.

When All Else Fails, Eat

We might have had an interest in chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but most of the heat seemed to be at Yaga’s Cafe.  The crowded interior didn’t seem to suffer from it’s lack of an identifiable theme in the decoration or menu.  The service was friendly, if not adequate, and the food adequate, if not tasty.

Lunch behind us, we explored the island by car for awhile and decided we’d certainly return, but next time, we’d rent a beachside cottage and the weather would be warmer.  For dinner we drove back towards Houston to meet some Pearland friends, Jimmy and Melanie, at Pappas Seafood House. Now that was good seafood and good company.  We are fortunate in our friends, even if we don’t always make the best decisions about when to visit the beach.

So, should you go to Dickens on the Strand?  I might go back someday, but I’d check the weather, go on Saturday and stay somewhere besides the Beachfront Palms.  Come back next week and we’ll start thinking about a new trip!

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