Traveling isn’t only about places. It isn’t about checking off all the boxes on your bucket list or seeing all major sites in one city. It isn’t about how many countries – though sometimes it’s fun to brag as well – or how many flights you had in your lifetime. It’s about stories. People. Memories.
The reason I visited Dallas, wasn’t because I had the sudden urge to put Texas into my travel scheme or I desperately wanted to know how life is in the state where everything’s bigger. I visited because it’s the place where my friend J. lives. J. and I met almost two years ago in Krakow, Poland – he’s quite the traveller as well – and soon after that he visited me in Belgium. I visited him in Poland, he came to Belgium and I went to Poland. We became friends, though distance makes it hard to see each other often – hurray for skype -. A couple of months ago he decided to temporarily move back to the USA, giving me the reason to make a stop in Texas as well. We hadn’t seen each other in almost a year, so I couldn’t be happier the moment I saw him and his smile waiting for me at DFW airport, ready to show me around in his hometown.
First of all, Dallas and especially Athens aren’t places particularly made for tourists. Here I got to know how rural America can look like: cars, cars and distances. J. told me his hometown isn’t as big as mine….maybe not in people, but definitely bigger in square kilometers. Even the smallest activity involves taking your car and driving somewhere. A whole difference with cities as New York and DC, where you can go around by walking and using the subway. Taking the car is part of the culture, roads are fringed with drive-thru restaurants and advertisements.
Food is another big part of the culture, so combining eating and driving is a common thing. I’m becoming a pro in eating in a car without spilling ketchup on my clothes – it only happened to me twice – and the food, oh the food, is delicious. BBQ, catfish, hamburgers, fajitas, flapjacks, donuts, kolachi’s, pizza, lasagna, fried chicken,…I spend some time in food heaven – I might go on a diet at my next stop -.
Since there’s not that much to do in Athens, we enjoyed ourselves by playing some bowling – who beat you two times J. ? –, seeing a movie, driving around to do some house/people watching and paying a visit at the Athens Fisheries Center to see some local animals – alligators -. We drove to Dallas two times, once to see the Art Museum and to visit the Dallas World Aquarium – more alligators and a manatee, oh and pink! flamingo’s – and once to be thrilled by one of the world’s biggest rollercoaster drops at Six Flags over Texas.
Did I see a lot of Texas? No. Do I want to see more? Definitely yes. What was the best part of my trip to Texas? Sitting in the car, windows open, music loud, threathening tropical storm outside, hot but humid, realising if I wouldn’t have met J., I wouldn’t be there that specific moment. If I hadn’t travelled, I wouldn’t have met so many wonderfull people so far. How much my life has changed the passed two years and how much I enjoy my time here. Simply sitting in a car and remembering why I love travelling so much.
And how much I hate saying goodbye, again.
Next stop: Las Vegas!