Waking up at 3.30am, our suitcases packed and ready to go, showering, complaining about being tired, and calling our Uber, we couldn’t believe that after months of planning and build-up – our road trip was finally starting!!
Several hours later (a flight to London, 4 hours watching Gilmore Girls on my laptop in Pret at Heathrow, and a 9-hour flight with several films) we emerged, surprisingly alert, at Dallas Fort Worth. To be honest, we had been worried about being interrogated at the border after hearing so many recent horror stories about British people being turned away, detained and having their laptops searched, but the process of entering the country was pretty painless and everybody seemed pretty friendly.
After meeting our friend at the airport, who had come all the way over to help make sure we knew how to drive, we took the shuttle bus to the car rental shop and waited for our papers to be sorted. All you need is your British driving license for this (and, thank God, we don’t have those paper counterparts to the license any more), although we got International Driving Permits just in case – which you can get from selected Post Office branches for £5.50, just take some ID, your driving license and a passport-sized photograph. Look up the requirements based on your country, because you might need this if your license isn’t printed in English.
Alamo’s customer service had told us that it would be fine to drive the car to Canada, but we were told by the guy at the counter that we would have to exchange the car with another Alamo one up nearer the border to be allowed into the country, because Canada won’t let American cars in… so, stay tuned to find out what happens on that front! Most people we’ve mentioned this to think it sounds untrue.
Anyway, we were led to a car park (or parking lot, as we now say) where there were tons of cars to choose from, so we selected a black one with white leather seats. We named her
Daisy, although we mustn’t get too attached as she may be taken from us near the Canadian border.
We arrived at our host’s house (Michael, who is a friend of Anna’s friend Sherry from her choir in London) quite late, and despite having been awake for over 24 hours we decided to go and get some food. He took us to a bar called The Libertine, where we had spicy buffalo wings, sweet potato fries and a delicious pulled pork and avocado burger.
The next day, we drove downtown to see the site where John F Kennedy was assassinated. To get there, drive towards Dealey Plaza – we parked by the Old Red Museum’s parking lot, which is $10 max for a day. We started off at the Urban Blend coffee shop, which is attached to a church. I spotted some $7 parking around there, near the 7-11.
We started walking towards the centre, where you can see a lot of historic sites and museums. Our first interaction in Dallas was the following:
Man by bus stop: Excuse me, what colour is your shadow?
Anna (looking at shadow): Erm I don’t know… grey?
Man by bus stop: You just didn’t want to say black!
Anna (looking at shadow again, getting more insistent): It’s not black! It’s grey!
Man by bus stop: What you talking about, I ain’t never seen no grey man!
Anna still insists that her shadow looked grey. Gwynnie pointed out that shadows are really just darker shades of whatever colour is underneath.
In downtown Dallas, there’s a Holocaust Museum, the Old Red Museum (about Texas, we think) and the famous Sixth Floor Museum, which is actually located in the old Texas School Book Depository – the building from where JFK was allegedly shot. Now, it’s been turned into a museum about JFK. It’s $16 and we decided we could find out enough by walking around the downtown area; there are historical plaques everywhere telling you about Dallas’s history, and a few self-appointed tour guides wandering around.
After looking at a replica log cabin (the kind in which early settlers may have lived), we were approached near the JFK memorial by a guy handing out historic “newspapers”, containing a blow-by-blow account of the assassination. Before we knew what was happening, he was leading us around the corner to show us the Book Depository and getting us to pose in a variety of ways, pointing to the window from where the shots were fired, the grassy knoll, and even getting us to jump into the road when traffic stopped to point to the spots (actually marked with Xs) where Kennedy was shot. It was all a little
morbid, to be honest.
After showing us around for a while, the guy started to tell us that his newspapers cost $10 (or $20 for the extended version). We muttered something about not having cash and he seemed annoyed, saying “well, I helped you” so we felt a little bad/scared and gave him $10. We then went to Chipotle to get lunch – the plan was to eat it on the grassy knoll (might as well roll with the inappropriateness), but Anna had forgotten to pick up cutlery and had left the $10 newspaper in Chipotle so we hurried back and ate there, instead.
Although our friend had said that Texas was “quite cold” at the moment, the weather was glorious and we sunbathed a little. You have to remember that we are British, and so as soon as the temperature crawls above 20C we instinctively strip down to our summer clothes and run outside to catch some precious, precious warmth. Add to that the fact that we live in Prague and had been wearing our winter clothes for about 6 months, this was bliss!
Then, we wandered into 7-11 and looked at the Slurpie machines. The pictures showed something between a Slush Puppie and an ice cream, although what came out of the machine was this disgusting, bright green sludge. We decided to back away slowly and hope nobody minded us wasting their ice/food colouring/sugar.
That was pretty much it for Dallas; we were jetlagged and needed to get to Austin, so we set off around 5pm and were able to have our first drive-thru experience at Whataburger. Anna was very excited (“Eating in the car!? So American!”) and we were all surprised to find that one meal – a burger, fries and a huge malt shake – was enough to fill three of us.
We also stopped at The Czech Stop, an actual Czech-style bakery that sold bratwurst,
cakes, sandwiches and “kolaches” (kolači is Czech for pies/pastries) that were ultimately not that Czech, but there we go. We took some photos and decided we didn’t want to buy anything and went on our way!
It was around 11pm when we finally arrived in Austin and fell asleep straight away.