Thursday, April 18, 2013

Washington as a "world capital"? ABSOLUTELY!!!

Washington D.C.   - Our nation's capital, and fabulous world city.

Doorway topper- Capitol Hill
Vietnam Memorial 

Botanical Garden

United States Botanical Garden

Jefferson Memorail 

Dupont Circle Farmers Market

Georgetown- Exorcist Stairs

Martins Tavern- Georgetown

Martins Tavern- Georgetown

Cherry Trees and Tom and Sunrise

Korean Memorial

World War II Memorial 

Capitol Royunda

The real American

I had decided on a long, early April weekend in Washington D.C. It was only an hour flight, and my husband had never been. I, myself, had only been twice before, as a 12 year old tagalong with my mother on my way to my to my uncle's wedding in 1981, and me tagging along my own 2 children about 12 years ago. This was my first time a real adult, with another adult in tow, my husband Brian, where we could walk for hours, visit museums, take tours, drink beer, and eat any kind of food appealed to us whenever we wanted.

We flew out of Providence on a Thursday evening, landing at Reagan International one hour later. We boarded the Metro for our hotel at DuPont Circle, and headed out into this bustling, diverse neighborhood for a quick bite to eat.

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle is in the heart of the capital's diplomatic environs. Embassy Row begins here and branches out onto Massachusetts Avenue. It's a wonderful sight to see the flags of other nations lining the streets of Washington. The embassies themselves are housed in beautiful old homes, in neoclassical, Edwardian, or Greek design. Columns, arches, turrets line Massachusetts Ave, and the colors of Japan, Croatia, Sweden and Turkey adorn the cherry tree lined streets. Every ethnicity is found here. It only strengthens the fact that the United States is a country unlike any other, one of a vast ethnic identity, brought here by all nations of the world. Washington D.C. exemplifies with magnification, with its people, its architecture, its tributes, its layout, and even its food.Every aspect of Washington pays tribute to other cultures, who have lent their ideas and culture to all what the United States is.

Embassy Row

St. Jerome, Croatian Embassy

Regardless of your political views, we should all remember that there is only one Native American race. Washington D.C., not only proves this point emphatically, by embracing all other nations of the world, but has finally given the Native Americans their voice in Washington, long silent, long absent. The newly constructed and beautiful Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian is a moving tribute to this country's native peoples. I cried as I walked through the galleries, reading the atrocities visited upon an entire race of people..  It is a poignant reminder that those of us who think of ourselves as Americans, owe our existence here in this country to many who had never even heard the word, "America".  The architecture of the building stands out amongst its brothers and sisters along the mall, with their columns, marble, and domes, the museum is constructed with earth toned bricks and a curved facade to resemble the earth and the wind.

Museum of the American Indian
Museum of the American Indian


Throughout our visit, we ate raviolis that rivaled those of Rome at Darlington House, had veggie hash and eggs at an all-night bookstore, duck confit at Bistro du Coin, and ok,  a burger,                        

at the
satellite location of Ray's Hell Burger, now closed, and moved to Ray's to the Third. (I'm not a fan of burgers, but I had the Au Poivre, with sherry sauteed mushrooms and onions, and guacamole, and it was damn good. Even Barack likes them). 

One of Washington's strengths is its dedication to tribute. As you walk along the National Mall, or throughout Arlington Cemetery, or down Embassy Row, or even the zoo, or Georgetown, Capitol Hill, or downtown, the architecture, monuments, signage, words, all dedicated to those that helped shape our unique culture or inspired it. The mighty Egyptian obelisk, dedicated to the city's founder and our first president, is the tallest structure in Washington proper.

The mighty dome, designed by an Irish architect, looms at the end of the Mall. The Greek columns, of the Great Emancipator's shrine, reminds of  the values put forth by all Americans.


His mighty Gettysburg Address, inscribed to his left, send shivers down my spine every time I read his humble words. Union Station's Roman Soldiers, standing watch over travelers and commuters throughout its Great Hall.

Union Station

Union Station

 The cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin, a gift from Japan in 1912, attract thousands every year as they bloom and showcase a fireworks display of color along the water, embracing the dome of Jefferson's memorial, and the stark granite and waterfalls of FDRs sprawling memorial site.

Cherry Blossoms


And even the zoo, with its prized possessions of panda bears, a gift from China, a showcase of thanks and pride. Quotes adorn the city from Americans and non-Americans alike. Herodotus, Martin Luther King Jr. , Pericles, Caesar Chavez, Geronimo, Moses, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela. Its a truth that America should come back to. We have strength in ourselves because of others. Origins of the doctrines of democracy, of law, of wisdom, of education, of art, of nature have all inspired the building of this city and this country. No where is this more evident than in our own capital.

Washington is a very walkable city. We put in miles and miles. We took self-guided walking tours of Embassy Row, The National Mall and Tidal Basin, Foggy Bottom and the White House area, Georgetown, and across the river at Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn. Bring comfortable shoes. The Metro is extremely easy to navigate and highly affordable. It can take you to all points of the city worth exploring, except for Georgetown, which is about 3/4's of a mile from Foggy Bottom Metro stop.


Changing of the Guard- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


But walk to Georgetown!!! It's beautiful and flat and plenty of places to stop in for a bite or drink or some shopping. - Oh and the Exorcist Stairs!!


It should be walked and explored. And all the museums are FREE!!! It doesn't make sense, but it's pretty awesome. You can spend 10 minutes or three hours, you can always go back. I was pressed for time, I ran in to the National Gallery of Art, ran to Gallery 6, saw this hemisphere's only Leonardo da Vinci. and didn't have to pay a dime. It was a whirlwind trip. Highlights included the beyond impressive Library of Congress, United States Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the sunrise stroll through the cherry blossoms and along the Tidal Basin, the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a tour of the Capitol and a walk through Georgetown.

One COMPLAINT! I had contacted my Congressman's office weeks in advance for tours of the White House and the Capitol. We filled out all of the required security paperwork. Our tour of the Capitol was approved immediately. It took several weeks to hear about the White House. Finally an email- due to sequestration, White House tours had been canceled. Those idiots of Congress managed to finally screw with my travels. If they could get out of each other's way, take a walk around their own city, look at the quotes, remember why they are there, maybe at some point, hopefully, they can finally do something that resembles representing the people.

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Regardless of the boneheads residing in Congress, I can't wait to go back. Places missed and still on my list; The U Street Corridor and Colombia Heights, The Museum of Natural History, The National Zoo, the National Cathedral, a day trip to Mt. Vernon, and an opportunity to bike and hike the environs with its trails and parks. Wake up America, Washington D.C., isn't all about incompetent legislators, it's about how we have grown as a nation in it's good and bad times,  our embracing of our multi-national culture, and our thanks to all that have helped us achieve that culture.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and wonderful pictures. Thank you for sharing. D.C. is unlike any other city. If you are in a hurry it's just a ugly city. However, if you take time to look around, it's beautiful. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and enjoy.