The last city on our three day va-cay was Washington, DC. We felt a little guilty having swept through the other two cities so we made a point to spend our last day flaneuring about the city and actually have one relaxing day.
Our day in Washington actually started at a no cover Sunday night at Eighteen Street Lounge on 18th St. It’s home to Thievery Corporation and other music acts. I loved this space. It had multiple rooms with different styles of house music (deep and funky) playing. Plus everyone was dancing. And there were some sick (I don’t use that word often) moves on the floor. And the vibe was probably the best I had experienced in years. Did I say it was a Sunday? And this is a government town? (Obviously throughout the whole trip J and I drew many comparisons between Ottawa and Washington as capital cities). The photo above doesn’t do the vibe justice – it’s actually with the lights on at the end of the night.
To top it off, we were serenaded after we left the club. It couldn’t get better than this.
The hotel we stayed at – Hotel Helix- was a winner, definitely in our top five hotels/hostels. Greetings and acknowledgements every time you were in the lobby, friendly smiles (and not those fake hello how are you smiles), carrying your luggage up the steps, free wi-fi, great location off Logan Circle. Think of a super nice modern hostel with impeccable service. Note that instead of chocolates they leave politicians on your pillow (no not really, these were greeting cards J scored in Baltimore at the American Visionary Art Museum gift shop). It would be a pretty cool pillow topper though.
Breakfast the day before was from Whole Foods (again, love their breakfast bar) in a cardboard container but still delicious for a takeaway meal. So for breakfast that day we headed around the corner on P street to the neighbourhood bar The Commissary where there’s “honest pricing”. Good prices indeed but the food wasn’t too honest and Whole Foods breakfast in a box still won out. (Unfortunately no photo was taken of this moment as we enjoyed conversation instead of documenting breakfast).
The area around 14th and U Streets was our first and only neighbourhood stop. I found out that most of the stores we wanted to check out were closed on Monday. I had been looking forward to Miss Pixies and Ruff and Ready to fill my need for a vintage find during the trip. Sadly I snapped some shots through the window.
We did happen upon a red brick walk-up that housed Som Records, which J checked out, while I headed up the steps to Treasury (1843 14th St. NW, second floor), a cute little vintage clothing shop with some really nice pieces. Seamstress Kristen (who is also opening her own store on U street in the coming weeks) was kind enough to give myself and another shopper from Australia some info on other places to check out in the area. Here she is looking busy and some trinkets from the store.
As per my urban aesthetic festish, there were some pretty neat eccentricities we bumped into:
One of the higlights of my trip was heading over to Busboys and Poets, which is a restaurant/bookstore/fair trade market/gathering place/my dream space. J had been raving about this place ever since he came here last winter. It did not disappoint. The food was amazing. I love this place. I wish I could put it in my suitcase and take it home with me. One day…
And so it wouldn’t be Washington without a trip to at least one touristy part. So we walked all the way from Capitol Hill to Washington Monument. More tourist photos on my Flickr page, but two things we did/encountered to liven things up:
To mimic the Knit It series I participated in five years ago in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, I brought the project I was working on (a penguin for a colleague) and posed with it and took photos of it in front of Capitol Hill. It’s actually the beginnings of a larger installation project – more info in a future post.
Second, isn’t this a great idea? Screening films on the green space in front of the Hill. Ottawa should look into doing something like that, perhaps through the Centretown Movies group.
And even though I don’t have a photo of this because I had checked my camera, it’s worth mentioning. In my top 5 experiences during this trip: security guards at the Senate asked a very large group of Amish people to hand over any cellphones/cameras/electronic devices in their possession.
And that was that, short and sweet, we headed to the airport in our rental car for the flight home.
Some stuff we learned during our three day trip:
- You may able to get a lower price (or even a great package deal like we did) by flying into a city that’s close to your preferred destination. We scored an awesome deal on Expedia for three-day trip. We initially wanted to fly into Baltimore or Philly since they were cities we had never visited before but there weren’t any direct flights available. So we flew into Washington instead which is a 1 hour drive from Baltimore and a 2.5 hour drive from Philly.
- Avoid renting a car at DCA on a Saturday (at least from Budget). Even though we had made a reservation, we waited over two hours before we finally got our car and hit the road. Also, like most rental car places even though you may have booked an economy or compact-sized car, you will likely end up with a Cadillac or an SUV. So if you want to book a large car, I say try booking the lower priced smaller car so that you pay less but likely end up with a bigger car.
- If you want to go DC –> Baltimore, better to go by car than train during the weekends. Apparently the commuter train between both cities doesn’t run frequently on Saturdays and Sundays. You could try a bus company, like Greyhound or Chinatown Bus but the hours and stops respectively weren’t that great, at least not for us..
Here’s the city + DIY resources we consulted: