Somehow I managed to make it to D.C. within an hour of dinnertime, completely catching my friend Kate off guard. Luckily for her, dinnertime in D.C. means one thing: traffic crawling at the pace of a slug. So in the hour it took me to travel a few blocks, Kate stopped by a delicioso Ethiopian restaurant in the cute up-and-coming neighborhood of Bloomingdale in which she lives and was ready to mangia by the time I arrived. We spent the evening catching up, chowing down, and watching Singing in the Rain (a great classic. If you haven’t seen it, jump on that!)
The next morning we spent breakfast at Big Bear Cafe oggling indie boys and discussing the world’s problems, and by 11 we found ourselves sitting on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial trying to decide what to do next. Oh yeah, did I mention that the Washington Monument (the phallus-like structure that dominates the D.C. skyline) had apparently been affected by the August 23rd earthquake and was closed for repairs? Yeah, weird, I know. Maybe they will change the name to the “Leaning Tower of Washington” or the “Leaning Tower of Pisa II” (if they’re feeling particularly original). Ok, yeah, so it’s not actually leaning. But that would be cool, right?
I also got to experience the D.C. Metro – which is a bit like a nuclear fallout shelter crossed with something out of a sci-fi film. It also runs like a zebra in the Sahara being pursued by a lion: only because it has to. And it sucks most when the lion catches up aka a bridge is being worked on.
We walked down the mall next to the long stretch of museums. D.C. is awesome for a number of reasons, but I think by far the best thing about it is how FREE most/all of its museums are. This is probably an attempt to make up for how friggin expensive everything else is…but we’ll take what we can get.
I wanted to do something not every tourist does in D.C., so we decided to check out the African and Asian art museums that are situated right in front of the Smithsonian Castle (Arts and Industries building). On our way there, we passed through the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, a quaint walled public garden that had tree branches and vines hanging overhead, brick walkways, and a number of different species of plants. There were a handful of businessmen and women eating their lunches quietly on benches in the garden, and birds hopped around picking up crumbs. It was incredible to see such a beautiful natural space in the middle of the downtown area of a big city.
We also walked through the Hirshhorn and National Gallery of Art Sculpture Gardens on our way to the African and Asian Art Museums. I spotted another of Louise Bourgeois’ huge spider sculptures (you may recall I saw one in front of Ottawa‘s Museum of Art), a Rodin, and a number of other really neat sculptures (see the slideshow below to check ‘em out!).
We finally made it to the African Art museum and explored its multiple floors complete with video presentation before heading to Teaism for lunch. This is a must-do if you are close by and like sushi and/or tea at all. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but definitely worth it. They even serve you your meal in little sushi boxes just like in Japan! Seriously, go there. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
On our way to the Sackler Gallery of Asian Art, I was glancing around the street like a child with ADD, when I noticed two people waiting at the crosswalk next to us. I recognized the girl from somewhere – suddenly I realized that she was one of my friends from college! I flagged her down and we all decided to meet up for drinks later that night.
At the bar that night, Kathleen told Kate (whose full name is coincidentally Kathleen) and me that her boyfriend (another college friend) was working in Alexandria, and suggested we grab lunch with him the next day. Who knew this would be just a huge Richmond reunion?
The ridiculousness continued the next day when we ran into yet another Richmond friend having a coffee on the porch of a Starbucks on King street in Alexandria. Apparently Washington D.C. is where everybody goes after graduating from UR.
We also checked out a cute coffee shop called Misha’s that was expensive (I know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record), but it had a really unique vibe and a line practically out the door.
Later, we met Richmond friend Ryan for lunch at another Ethiopian restaurant (we really like Ethiopian food), spent some time catching up, then saw him off to his stage managing duties for a local theater company.
That night, I met up with a couple other Richmond friends I hadn’t seen in forever at H street bar Church and State, which was small, hipster and had real confession booths! The bartenders were friendly and the music was good, but it was very expensive. I discovered later that all D.C. bars are expensive (well, everything in D.C. really), but let me just say, $21 for a rail double G&T should just not happen. Especially when you can get a Hendrix G&T for $6 in other parts of the world *cough* Richmond *cough*.
The next day I said goodbye to Kate and headed off to Richmond, VA: my last stop before home!