I realized I haven’t had a “summer vacation” that hadn’t had some ulterior motive (visit family, language learning, camp, etc.) in a VERY long time. And since I was still in my study abroad money-is-a-minimal-object spending phase, I bought tickets to go visit my good friend Mer in DC!
Believe it or not, I have never been to the nation’s capital – my eight grade class trip was to go bowling at a nearby college. So I am REALLY excited to be able to visit with one of my close friends to show me around (before I go back and sit in a library for eight hours a day in August anyway.)
The flight itself was interesting. I decided to fly standby on a flight that landed slightly earlier than my original one, so I managed to get a great window seat at the front of the plane overlooking some of the most beautiful clouds I have seen in a while. Flying with clear skies is definitely better for one’s mental health (I hate turbulence), but flying above the clouds at sunset is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I mean I got to see lightning being created in a cloud! At a safe distance away from the plane, of course.
As an aside, this was my first time flying Jet Blue and I really like it. Obviously Southwest still wins in my heart of hearts, thanks to consistently cheap flights between Chicago and Boston and 2 free checked bags, but Jet Blue has TVs! Which meant that I got to watch at least part of the US Olympic Gymnastics trails. Also the plane was pretty spacious, which I appreciated despite the fact that the flight was only a bit over an hour.
Anyway, with my amazing luck, I got to the airport while the Metro was under construction – which meant that getting to George Washington’s campus was interesting to say the least. But I met up with my friend and we decided to go out for second dinner/milkshakes and catch up at Burger Tap & Shake. I had my first alcoholic milkshake. I have heard great things about them, and I was… a little disappointed actually. The milkshake itself was really tasty, don’t get me wrong – definitely not the restaurants fault. But I have decided that I need my alcohol to stay in alcohol and away from things that are already tasty, like milkshakes and hot chocolate.
The next day we got off to a bit of a slow start, and decided to get Eritrean food for brunch. Prior to this I had one hazy memory of disliking an Ethiopian restaurant I went to as a child, with the exception of warm milk and honey, as well as the bread. I decided since I made the rare new year’s resolution to be adventurous, I should uphold that and try out this food.
Thank the lord I did. Eritrean food is great. I should eat it for every meal. Seriously. This place in particular, Keren Restaurant and Coffee Shop, is known for its affordable and delicious food. My friend and I split a platter which was more than enough food, tipped at 20% and I got a coffee, for 20 bucks – not bad at all.
After that, I was informed that the Smithsonians were all FREE. This is an excellent use of my tax payer dollars, and so we went to the Renwick Gallery. This place isn’t exactly like a normal art museum. For starters, we were told to go there by several people who wanted us to lie on the floor and look at the ceiling of this one particular installation. Um. Okay?
That was excellent advice, as it turns out. That place was dang peaceful, even though it was Saturday and there were throngs of tourists literally everywhere. I always have a bad habit about complaining about tourists even when I am one – I should fix that.
After the gallery, we walked to see the normal tourist spots like the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the WWII memorial. We also walked past the Vietnam and Korean War memorials. I was suitably impressed by them all.
Our progress was slowed because, like everyone else in the world, I downloaded Pokemon Go this week. My phone’s battery has suffered for it, but I also walked either to or from work (3.5 miles each way) several days this week specifically because of it so is that really bad? I am Team Mystic and convinced my friend to join me on the team of awesome. I mean, we controlled the White House last time I was there so…
After that we took a quick break, and then joined a bunch of other Wellesley students who were participating in the Wellesley in Washington program that I am high key bitter I couldn’t apply for because of study abroad on a “Monuments by Moonlight” cruise.
It was more like “Monuments by Sunset” but everything was gorgeous so I can’t complain at all.
Afterwards, we were pretty hungry, so we decided to try out a place that was recommended by a friend. On the way, we ran into a Black Lives Matter protest/march. I have been to exactly one march, in Boston, over a year and a half ago. I appreciate them, and on any other weekend I would have heeded their calls of “off the sidewalks, on the streets.” But I was wearing heels and makeup, and I just wanted to enjoy my time with my friends. I decided that I had done enough as it is, and I just wanted to eat my ribs and pretend like I could be ignorant like so much of America. I felt a little guilty going into the restaurant while they were out there marching. After all, everyone likes to pretend that if the Civil Rights Movement were now they would be up there with Dr. King marching and rallying with the best of them. I know my strengths – writing, arguing, research, and organizing. I’m sure my mettle will be put to the test, but after vigils for Orlando, Bangladesh, Baghdad, Turkey, Dallas, Alton Sterling, and Philandro Castile, I was basically emotionally drained.
The ribs 100% helped fix that. I wish I had photos of them, from Old Glory, but we were under weird blue lighting which made everything look supremely unappetizing. The ribs weren’t the best I had ever had, but they were also my first time having ribs in over a year (special barbecue food + being out of state/country for most of barbecue season = no ribs, brisket, grilled burgers…) so I made an exception.
After that, my friend and I bemoaned America’s nightlife. In Tokyo, you basically had to start getting ready at 10:00 if you wanted to avoid cover charges, and 11 or 12 if you wanted to make the last trains out. Clubs were open until 5 am. In America, things run for way less time (10 – 2 instead of 10 – 5), they get swinging earlier (11 or 12 instead of 1 or 2), and wind down way earlier. So even though in Tokyo or Copenhagen you could definitely take a nap at 11 and rally for a party at midnight, that wasn’t going to happen in DC. We decided to stay in, and get ready for the next day instead.