Spending the Day in Washington DC: A City in Full Bloom

Another protest going on in DC
Another protest going on in DC

On Monday, I spontaneously got to visit one of my most favorite cities on the East Coast of America. Washington DC – capital of the US, epitome of diversity and city of culture and cherry blossoms. I’ve so far been three times (only) in the past 5 years. But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the short three times I had went.

While I managed to stay for two full days in 2011 and more than a few hours in 2013 for my birthday, this week’s trip was pretty short and sweet. I arrived at 12pm and departed at 8pm already – around 8 hours to spend in a city where having more time is of full advantage.

White House vibes
White House vibes

After grabbing a grilled cheese sandwich from a pretty decent joint around Chinatown, I went on to the obligatory stop when in that area: The White House. Unlike previous visits, the area was fenced off and I was barely able to peek through the fence to the White House, least to say take a proper picture. It was all good though, I know what it looks like without the bars. I managed to ask some of the police officers, who were standing around trying hard to look busy, why there was no single trash can to be found anywhere. One gave me a look as if to say:”Seriously?” and went on to explain how it’s considered a terror threat and whatnot.

White House and I - a love/hate relationship
White House and I – a love/hate relationship

Luckily I found a trash can a few streets down, when walking towards the International Spy Museum. This museum had been on my list for a couple of years already. A friend had went and thought it quite brilliant, but she also spent more than a few hours in the city. After seeing that it would take at least 2 hours to get through it, I opted against it. The entrance fee is around $22 and I wanted to be sure I got my money’s worth. Next time I will stay for longer and check out all the wonders it offers. For the time being, I roamed the gift store and print-pressed a spy onto a 1-ct-piece. Mission accomplished!

Next stop: National Mall. A homeless guy convinced me to “donate” $1 to him if he handed me a tiny flower, which he had probably plucked off somewhere. The idea was cute enough to get my attention, so I went for it. It’s funny how I never consider giving a homeless person in NY anything but food but as soon as I visit other cities all self-made barriers are torn down and I don’t feel terribly bad for the dollar I spent on him. After all, it’s a more unique idea than panhandling through the subway and looking mean while begging for money…

Spring everywhere
Spring everywhere
Spring everywhere
Spring everywhere

On my way to the Mall, I couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous it had already become in DC. Unlike NY, spring had cometh in full bloom only 4 hours south. The snow had completely melted, it was warm and some flowers were out. But no, cherry blossoms were nowhere to be found yet. When I had first visited DC, I had come at the end of March, too. Back in 2011, all cherry blossoms had been out already but this time around not yet. I guess it had been a colder winter than expected. Perhaps this also means that cherry blossoms will bloom for longer when they start later. Fingers crossed!

IMG_4060

I finally got to check out the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Especially the photographer’s section was appealing and informative, as it featured an array of wildlife and great landscapes. This museum also features the Hope Diamond – the most renown diamond originating in India and reshaped through its journey to the British Empire and the French Monarchy. I didn’t know too much about this diamond but it was quite breath-taking to see in person and behind the glass.

Hope Diamond
Hope Diamond

The Museum of Natural History had an array of great exhibitions. I walked through the Mammals and birds section until I found myself in a room that featured pieces and scripts on Indian-American culture. Not Native American, but people originating from India. Since I’ve come to have quite a few friends who classify under this category, I had to send them snaps on this one. It’s quite informative and certainly to recommend, if you happen to find yourself in this museum.

View from the Museum
View from the Museum

Other than a ton of culture, DC offers some pretty good grub and drinks. We lunched in the Old Ebbit Grill, where they serve a mediocre cappuccino but a pretty good lunch special. Cuba Libre offers a great happy hour special, only a few blocks away from Chinatown. Of course, most good restaurants and bars are elsewhere. I remember checking out the area around Dupont Circle, Georgetown, and Adam’s Morgan in 2011. Make sure you head over there if time allows.

It seems that equivalent to other cities in the US, some great amount of gentrification is happening in DC, too. Prices have always been up here and pretty compatible to New York. A friend of mine pointed out that rents have increased in the past 6 years and that you see less and less of the original DC-ers in certain parts of the city anymore. Oh well, not everything can last forever without the hipsterization…

Overall, it had been another eventful trip to the US capital and I was bummed having to leave after 8 short hours. I hope to spend at least 3 days in this city at one point in time. The friendliness of the people always gets to me and makes me never want to leave.

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One thought on “Spending the Day in Washington DC: A City in Full Bloom

  1. We have got to meet up in Asheville sometime. If you think people are friendly in DC (and they are!), then you will be blown away by Asheville. And you will love everything about the city! (Even in spite of the nasty gentrification that’s happening there as well). 🙂

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