Last day at the conference. This is my second time at this conference in DC, but the last time, it was farther away from the city center. I somehow assumed the same was true this time--didn't even bother to check where the hotel was in relation to the rest of the city. Then I was planning on going to meet a high school friend down at his office, and I looked up how to walk there on a map. Bam! There was the White House, right next to it. I had no idea how easy it would be to get to the city center--I'd been doing it the past few days without even knowing it.
In conversation with my friend and others, I also discovered I'd come right at the peak of the Cherry Blossom Season. So that's what all those flowery trees are all around the city. Go figure. I took a walk over to the White House, checking out the trees and the Washington Memorial while I was at it. Definitely beautiful. (Little known facts I learned: LaFayette is not in the middle of LaFayette Square. That's Andrew Jackson. And the front of the White House is the one without the curved part. That's the back.)
We ate at a place called Old Ebbott, which is pretty much right next to the White House. I looked for famous people (a lot of Congressmen and big wigs go to eat there, or so I've been told), but I soon realized that I wouldn't recognize a famous Congressman or big wig if I saw one. Obama wasn't there. I can vouch for that. The food was fantastic, although that might also have been because I was wicked hungry. Who knows?
I've been to a lot of cities, relatively speaking. Not as many as some, but more than a lot, probably. I've spent multiple days in (let me think) New York, Prague, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Cairo, Amman, Leipzig, Dresden, Weimar, Bratislava, Paris, Dublin, London, Chicago, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Austin, San Diego--I think those are all the cities of note I've visited. (Kind of a fun game, thinking about that.) Now I can add DC to the list, since I've been trekking around the city. Not exhaustively, but quite a bit.
My thoughts? I like it. I don't like it as much as the European cities, but it's got a lot of cool architecture, and there are tons of free things to do. (I'm all about the free things.) I think I'll try and come down again this summer with the fam. My kids would enjoy checking out the sights, and since my brother lives here, it's kind of a cheap trip. Drive down, stay for free. (The same goes for anyone who wants to come up to Maine. It's just that it seems not many people end up coming up to our corner of the country--although from February to May, we'll have had seven different people stay with us for about a month and a half of the time. So maybe more people visit us than I give them credit. Or maybe--more likely--that's an aberration.)
I'd love to go to the Smithsonian and the mall. The zoo. The capitol. Summer will be hotter, but such is life.
Why do I like DC? I really like how easy it is to get around. The Metro is extremely well done, and the city's also very walkable. (What's up with people not walking more? I walked a mile and a half from the hotel to the White House, and several people expressed surprise I'd walked that far instead of taking the Metro. It was gorgeous weather, and walking is free--remember, I'm all about the cheap. Plus--free exercise.)
I like that the buildings aren't terribly tall, so you don't really have the feeling of being in an enormous city the whole time. The people haven't been particularly friendly, but they aren't usually when it comes to big cities.
What could the city use more of? Open air cafes, and good ice cream. But then again, I'm a sucker for European cities, and those are some of the things I like most about those. That and the tendency of people to be in less of a rush. Here they are, living in an enormous, beautiful city, and so many people seem dead set on just getting where they're going as fast as possible.
In any case--it's been a good conference and a good trip. It helped to distract me from the burning wreckage that used to be my NCAA bracket. Sigh. Enough of that.
Question for you: have you been to DC? What did you think? What's your favorite city in the world? Why?