We lived in Washington D.C. for a couple of months last year while I was doing an internship at the Smithsonian. Now, our friends will attest that we talk a lot of crap about D.C., so I thought it’s time to set the record straight. Behind the veil of complaining about the weather and all the other things we like to complain about, there lies a treasury of happy memories and favourite things, listed here in no particular order:
We absolutely loved Bloomingdale, which is the neighbourhood we stayed in. We loved evening strolls or leisurely cycles, we loved playing basketball with random strangers, we loved the colourful little townhouses – it is a part of DC that I felt had a real feeling about it. After spending time in the very federal centre of town it really was a saving grace to return to Bloomingdale.
The Best BBQ in the whole entire District
OH MAN. We moved twice within Bloomingdale during our short stay in DC. But the first place we lived in was maybe four minutes’ walk away from the best BBQ joint in the whole entire District of Columbia, possibly even the whole entire East Coast of the United States of America.
We had way too much of it and yet at the same time it felt like we could not possibly ever get enough of it. So when we moved further away it felt like both the best and the worst thing that has ever happened to us ever.
DCity Smokehouse – I bury all my vegetarian hatchets for you.
Sangria & Jazz in the Sculpture Garden
Every summer Friday afternoon equates to a big jazz party in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden, best enjoyed with pitchers of sangria and/or beer. We managed to sneak a spot on the cool grass after a long walk of memorials and other All American things with our friend Chris, and the cool, citrusy sangria was very, very welcome.
Pro-Tip: Watch out and/or join in with weird-ass jazz dancers
Cycling After Dark
What a fantastic way to enjoy DC. We grabbed some bikes after our pitcher(s) of sangria and zipped around the mall after sunset – when there are nearly no cars or people to spoil your fun (in comparison with the summer congestion otherwise) – cycling around in circles in front of the white house (minus the crowd) pretending to be sober, the cool of the darkness a happy contrast to the sweltering heat. We ended up on our backs by the Jefferson Memorial, docked our bikes, and later convinced our Uber driver to take us to McDonald’s drive through for a McFlurry (he ended up waiting for us in the parking lot).
Pro-Tip: Best enjoyed with a friend and after sangria and jazz in the sculpture garden.
This was my first time living in the States, and Joel’s first time living in a city in the States (and after a long time abroad), so going to lots of concerts of people whose music we love was a big high (especially for Joel who luuurves concerts).
Sufjan Stevens, where I thought ‘is this what dying and going to heaven sounds like?’ at the end. And where we heard Moses Sumney open.
Ben Folds, where I laughed and laughed and bopped up and down (in neighbouring Maryland)
The Weepies, where we reminisced.
Watching the Washington Wizards at a play off game
We were in the area when the Wizards faced the Nuggets in a NBA play off game, and decided to check it out. We felt awkward hanging around some scalpers at first, but bought some tickets off a guy (they were real!) and had the absolute pleasure of cheering for the Wizards, whose fans are crazy!
or, Watching basketball at the only bar in town that plays the sound
We set out one afternoon to find a bar where we would be able to see and hear the rest of the play-offs. We tried a couple places that refused to turn the sound up and ended up finding ‘Climax’, an Ethiopian bar who happily turned the sound way up, and provided Joel with some Shisha. We returned for the subsequent games, for which we were rewarded with really great Ethiopian bar food (sometimes someone would come in from the kitchen with some cooked pieces of spicy beef, sending it around as snacks). We have very happy memories in Climax, and, though this might just be in our heads, we feel like we have some sort of rapport with its staff.
‘Museums’ might go without saying, but for someone who loves museums (I am doing my Masters in Museum Studies after all) Washington D.C. is a wonderful place to be. I was really busy with my internship at the National Museum of African Art but when I forced myself to go see some things in museums, I found a disproportionate amount of pleasure in flashing my Smithsonian I.D. card and not have to submit to bag searches. Whether it was quick run through the Natural History Museum, multiple visits to the Hirschhorn to just get through Shirin Neshat’s exhibition, going through the National Gallery looking for ‘freaky paintings’ marked on my map by an eager security guard, or just standing in the darkness of ‘Hell’ at the National Museum of African Art (the lowest floor dedicated to an exquisite exhibition on Dante’s Divine Comedy, curated by Simon Njame), it really was just an incredible time of seeing and exploring new things.
Sometimes we went to Battery Park to watch planes land at the Reagan Airport. Lying on the grass, watching the planes line up in the distance, waiting for the roar of the engines to drown out your heartbeat as they soar meters from your head, feeling like it’ll crash into you, landing on the trip across the water – it was one of our favouritest favourite things to do.
Happy hour Cucumber Collins and Sapporo
Every now and then we would head to our sushi place after work (Momiji), which was coincidentally also happy hour, to get some sushi on sushi and $5 cocktails. Cue lots of refreshing Cucumber Collins in large mason jars, and Sapporo, which the waitresses cracked open and poured on their way to the table, mid-walk – which was just something so magical.
Bottomless mimosa brunch
We lived close to this place called Boundary Stone, who served bottomless mimosas or bloody mary’s with its brunch. At a stage we were going to have to find a new place, and for a long while it seemed impossible and like we were going to have to go to the suburbs. We drank our feelings over brunch, refined our Turkish accents, and laughed with the waitress over considering taking up some guy’s Craigslist offer of a ‘soundproof room’ – we will always have fond memories of Boundary Stone’s bottomless brunches and remember it as some sort of a halfway house for us.
Seen rolling around and being silly at the National zoo
To be honest, we really had a great time exploring DC and neighbouring Maryland and Virginia, and we look forward to heading back there some day.
I mean, #nofilter: