Museums, High Ceilings, & the Brightest of Lights…
This was my fourth trip to the Nation’s Capital. The first time I was on an educational field trip with the rest of the eighth grade class. The second time it was only a leg of a 7-day Explore Northeast tour. The third time I was there for two days, staying near Howard University, where Sefunmi went to school. So really, this time was the only time that really mattered. It was really also the first time I traveled to a place where I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t stay with a friend. I didn’t really meet up with any people I knew in the area. But all I can say is that after this trip, I fell in love.
Once I stepped foot off the plane, there was this sense of… elation, and it just continued as I walked to the baggage claim. Maybe National Airport just pumps a whole lotta oxygen into the air filtration system to make people feel great? Or maybe I got incredibly lucky with the weather gods because the sun was out every day, yet there were cool breezes and almost no humidity. Unlike Texas, it wasn’t blistering heat, which I had somewhat expected after speaking with a few people from DC.
The weather made it very comfortable to walk everywhere, which is a joke in Texas, where everyone drives their Dodge Hemi truck a block from where they live to pick up a few items off the grocery list. I was prepared, yet unprepared, to travel places by foot. Perhaps I was unfamiliar with the hill-y terrain of the places I explored, but my trusty driving mocs and flips flops were not great support for all of the walking I was doing. Even after resting for several hours, my shins and calves are still driving me crazy. So next time, if I’m going to spend an entire day in Georgetown with its ridiculous cobblestone streets where I (and other people) almost face-planted several times, I am going to rely on my sneakers, or learn how to ride a freaking bike and use that mode of transportation.
The public transportation was no surprise – trains and buses were relatively efficient. The maps were easy to follow, and I didn’t run across any homeless people sleeping on the benches or beggars in a hidden corner somewhere. The only issue I have with the rail is the announcement of the next station. The older trains had a crackly intercom, so sometimes you barely heard what the next stop was, and the LED panels at the top of the train only let you see what line you were on, so the only way you knew where you were going was if you lived there or stared at the map every few seconds so you wouldn’t miss the door closing on you. The LED panels were available on the bus I was on, though, with a nice driver to let me know where to get off.
Coming from Texas, I know a lot about good ‘ole Southern hospitality. NYC surprised me the most recent time I visited when I randomly stopped some guy to ask where the best local bagel shop was located, but DC… it’s a northern city. Yanks aren’t very nice are they? Wrong. The people are some of the nicest I’ve met. Every single person I encountered. Maybe the stars aligned for me. Maybe I am just an unintimidating, petite girl. Maybe I just had the word ‘tourist’ written all over my face (and to be frank, I played this up a lot), but these people helped when you walked up to them and asked. They’d stop what they were doing and lead you in the right direction or suggest some really great places to eat and even invite you along to what ever awesome place they were headed.
Before my trip, I talked to Julia to give me a few pointers on where to go and what to do, and of course, she did not disappoint.. These are a few of the places I went; some of these were her suggestions and some of them were from people I met along the way:
Uni. Located in Dupont Circle, you have to walk a few ways down from the Metro station. It’s on P Street between 21st and 22nd, on the same side of the street as CVS pharmacy. The restaurant is located on the second floor – above a bagel shop – and has a direct view of the Hotel Palomar from the bay window. It wasn’t dinner time yet when I arrived, but there were still a few tables occupied. I ordered the eel and cucumber & the mango salmon makis. Each had about 6-8 pieces, which satiated my hunger and left my mouth happy. Not only that, it was rather inexpensive too.
Madam’s Organ and Tryst are both located in Adams Morgan. I was told it would be a long walk from the Metro station to the ‘bro row’ itself so I should cab it from the station, but apparently, I missed that memo… Luckily, after a loooooong ridiculous escalator ride up to the street level, I bumped into a group of suited-up Asians who were ready to get their drink on after a day from a work conference and were also willing to do some walking with me. Both places are located on 18th Street, and in fact, they are right next to each other. There was a live jazz band playing at Madam’s Organ, so we had to pay a $4 cover. Lots of entertainment ensued, even thought I didn’t drink here. Tryst is more like a coffee/ restaurant/ bar. This place also had a live band. No cover, self seating. There is free wi-fi so a lot of people’s faces were illuminated by their laptop screens. In addition to closely placed tables, there were also lounging chairs and sofas. I started the night with a Adams Morgan Sunrise, basically a Tequila sunrise and finished off with a DC Iced Tea (3 guesses of what this one is like..) They were hella strong, and I was gone 15 minutes before midnight.
Small interlude: Why do trains stop at midnight on the weekdays??? Hm.
Bodega is a tapas restaurant located in Georgetown, on M Street between 31st and Wisconsin. It’s right next to a Haagen Daas and directly adjacent to an Urban Outfitters, so you can’t miss it. I got the name of this place from one of my many shameless attempts at flirting/ striking up a conversation with the locals. I took the Georgetown Metro Connection bus (for $1, no SmarTrip or Metro pass slots) from the Rosslyn Metro station and just turned around to ask the cute guy sitting behind me about his favourite place to dine. Turns out he was meeting some buddies for dinner, so he invited me along. The grilled chicken and steak, shrimp paella, along with other plates (don’t remember some of the names, people just ordered and I stuffed my face) and the sangria were great.
Rhino. This was a locals recommended place, AND they had a huge Red Sox banner hanging on the outside of the establishment, which is what sold it for me, really. This place is also in Georgetown, on M Street and 33rd. I spent a lot of time here. I watched the Red Sox v. Royals game from beginning to end, and I stayed a few hours afterward. It’s 2-stories with a bar on each level; as the night progressed, the laid back bar turned into a dance club, especially the second level. I met a lot of locals and even became Facebook friends with some! Hahaha. It was great times.
I came home a little earlier than I expected, with very few disappointments, and I’d really love to go back as soon as possible because there were so many other things on my list that I wanted to do but was too wimpy to complete due to the shin, calf, feet problem. This morning I went to tour the American University Washington College of Law campus; I think it deserves its own update, so be on the look out for that in the near future..