I’m on the road again and I feel free. Over the course of the next three weeks, I’m planning to visit eight different states – and possibly Canada, depending on which side of Niagara Falls I end up deciding to go to. The first stop was D.C.
So let’s talk about the nation’s capital. Spoiler: I loved it.
Shout out to Anna for driving me to the airport, so I didn’t have to cry on the bus.
I knew nothing about the public transportation system in D.C., but I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of WMATA – and how easy it was to navigate. I had a photo of all the metro lines saved on my phone and that’s all it took for me to be able to find my way around. Still in awe, if I’m being completely honest.
Cost: $2 for a metro card and $1.75 for a standard route (off-peak)
Food and Drink
I didn’t spend a lot of money in D.C. and looking back over my expenses list, I realise that the reason I didn’t was that I did not feed myself properly. I drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of bagels, but I honestly can’t be bothered to write about my assiago and garden veggie bagels. They were good everywhere. It’s hard to go wrong.
More often than not, I eat pizza my first night in a new place. I continued that pattern in D.C., hitting up Red Rocks in Columbia Heights less than two hours after arriving in the city. I stumbled into an all-night happy hour, so the food was discounted. If you want to take advantage of that discount, happy hour’s all day Wednesday.
I shoved an entire pepperoni pizza down my throat because I had low key forgotten to feed myself properly throughout the day. Added a bit of chilli flakes and a lot of parmesan and that was me set. Note for the food critics: I didn’t add “a lot” of parmesan because the pizza wasn’t cheesy enough as it was. I’m just pure disgusting.
Plan B Burger
My last night in town, I decided to splurge on a quality burger. It just so happened that the closest, non-fast food burger joint was Plan B Burger, so I wobbled in that direction. Yes, wobbled. I’ve spent the past four months doing crosswords at a coffee shop, my feet did not take well to suddenly having to walk around all day.
I waited for a table for an hour. Not because there were no tables, but because the waitress thought I was at the bar. I still don’t understand why she thought so, but I eventually got to order and that’s all that matters! I had a bacon cheeseburger (because I am basic) and it was delicious. Then I had dessert and regretted nothing.
Exploring (Day 1)
Arlington National Cemetery
Before having given my viking genes the chance to kick in, I ventured out to Arlington National Cemetery in -6°C weather. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to get through the day. Boy howdy did I struggle. But I’ve adjusted now and all I can think about is how much the cold smells like Christmas. Yes, temperatures have a smell.
I walked around for a while, but eventually made my way to both JFK’s grave and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I witnessed the changing of the guard, which was pretty cool. It looked cold, though, so I hope the guards are equipped with efficient thermal underwear or something. Otherwise I sure do feel sorry for them.
Washington Monument, Reflection Pool, and Lincoln Memorial
Once I got back into the city centre, I walked around to the famous sights of the National Mall. Thanks to the temperature, there weren’t a lot of tourists outside, so I managed to take some pretty sweet photos. It wasn’t until I uploaded them to this post that I realised just how deserted everything looked. I don’t know. I’m about it.
The White House
I have a picture of the White House saved somewhere on my laptop, but I’m not even going to bother to share it, because the White House is underwhelming. I straight up walked past it without realising. The Capitol is more impressive.
Exploring (Day 2)
National Museum of American History
I was aiming for the Museum of African American History and Culture, but I’m dumb and I was cold, so I ended up at the Museum of American History instead. The curation of the museum was interesting and there were a lot of stylistic changes that made it possible to get all the way through without getting bored.
There was a wall of people who’ve helped shaped America as we know it today and I was ecstatic to see how inclusive it was. The first person was a woman and I thought that was a great start. There were no historical LGBT figures on the wall, but I suppose you can’t win them all. I was just happy to see more than a bunch of white men.
National Museum of Natural Science
I know there are hundreds of other things I should have focused on, but what really stuck with me from the Museum of Natural Science was the exhibit on nature photography. The photos were stunning and I honestly felt kind of at peace looking at them. I wasn’t aware I loved photography that much, but apparently I do.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
As I mentioned in this post, I don’t always understand modern art. That being said, I usually end up in a modern art museum wherever I go and, for the most part, I enjoy it. Such was the case for Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Ragnar Kjartansson had an interesting exhibit at the museum. One particular piece was a video of a singing group of people split across eight (possibly more) different screens, all filmed from different angles, at different locations. The people moved from screen to screen. It was genius. I could have watched it all day.
Exploring (Day 3)
National Museum of the American Indian
I almost passed this museum over in favour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, but changed my mind last minute because I had the thought, “You’ve been to Auschwitz, but never a museum dedicated to indigenous Americans. What are you doing?” Interesting as I’m sure the Holocaust Museum is, I’m glad I changed my mind.
The exhibits revealed a great deal about the different cultures in the various indigenous populations and I left the museum feeling like I had actually learned something, which was a nice feeling. It was interestingly curated as well.
National Air and Space Museum
The Air and Space Museum was hella cool. There was just an awful lot of information and I didn’t know how to go about reading it effectively, which subtracted a tiny bit from the experience. Thankfully, there was enough visual stimulation in terms of exhibits that I didn’t feel the need to read absolutely everything.
There was an exhibit about time and navigation, which I found really cool. There was a five-screen conversation going on about how we’re all navigators. It was empowering. Other than that, I really liked the photos of the moon as well, so I guess at this point, it’s just an established fact that I like photography.
United States Capitol
I don’t have a lot to say about the Capitol, other than the fact that it was more impressive than the White House. I didn’t bother walking around the big body of water because it was late and I wanted food. What can I say, I have priorities.
My stay in D.C. marked the beginning of my Couch Surfing adventures and, in spite of how uncomfortable it’ll make my parents, it’s definitely something I’m going to start doing on a more frequent basis when I travel. I spent four nights with the Glowhouse in Columbia Heights and couldn’t have asked for a better first surf.
There was a lot of shuffling around as far as bed space goes, as there were other people staying there at the same time, but it was an amazing experience nonetheless. I was glad to see that there really are generous people out there who will happily take you in, in exchange for good conversation over pancakes and coffee.