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22 October 2010

Happy Hours and High Fives

In any city where there are people in suits roaming the streets, you can feel a collective exhale at 5 PM. Everyone finally gets to loosen their collar and head home, or, as I soon discovered was very common in DC, to the local bar or restaurant for happy hour drinks.

It was my first evening in DC, after a red eye flight and a day exploring the city on foot. So by 5:30pm, I was definitely exhausted and in need of a beer. I met up with Leslie at her office and we walked over to a place called Recessions. The bar is between Dupont Circle and Farragut (to the best of my DC geography knowledge), perfectly positioned to attract many young employees from the nearby think-tanks and policy agencies. And as I expected, the bar filled up mostly with 21-26 year olds. The atmosphere felt more like a lounge in a college dorm than that of an underground urban bar.

I met Leslie's friends Mari and Anna there. What was awkward was that Leslie and I sat at our own table, and a dozen or so of Mari's friends filled in the tables next to us. We had a strong feeling that this was the group we were invited to join, but without Mari there to introduce us, it was just Leslie and I enjoying our drinks.

Also, I was able to cross another item off my list: Take a picture wearing the craziest hat I could find. Unfortunately, there was hardly anyone wearing a hat that I could find, let alone a crazy hat, so I settled for the first moderately cool-looking hat I could find:

The hat guy had asked us for a quarter so he could use the jukebox. He and the friend with him were from California. And at the time, I was sitting with Anna and her friends, Peter (?) and Ashley, also from California. Apparently DC has undergone a west coast invasion?

19 October 2010

Discovering DC on Foot

The best way to explore a city, especially a big, vibrant, cosmopolitan city (like Washington DC) is on foot. You might think that you won't be able to see as much as you would if you were in a car, train, or bus - but in fact the opposite is true. The most rewarding parts of a visit to a new city are the small, unexpected details. Everyone's seen the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building, but what makes the trip really yours is the little old lady who tells you about what used to stand on that empty lot, or the hidden alleyway filled with colorfully artistic murals. It's only by interacting with the city on a personal level - which can only be done at a human level, i.e. on foot - can you gain the most rewarding experiences from your visit.

So, during my first day in Washington, DC, it was a no-brainer that I would spend the day exploring on foot. What would I discover?

16 October 2010

A Red Eye and a Real Red Eye in DC

Washington, DC. The capitol of the United States of America. This is where the country's--no, the world's--power is concentrated. It's impressive, especially considering that this city was merely a small town for many decades after it was built on a drained swamp over 200 years ago.

My arrival in DC was neither triumphant nor glamorous, but pretty mundane, commuting into the city with lots of workers. I flew into Dulles Airport, about 26 miles (41 km) west of Washington. It was 6:45 AM, and the earliest splashes of daylight were just emerging to the east.

15 October 2010

LAX to Dulles, Making My List

It has been a chilly and damp week so far in LA, but the forecast calls for sunny and warm weather all weekend on the east coast. I can't help but smile at this irony.

I'm sitting at the gate here at LAX, staying relaxed ahead of my flight. It isn't too hard to stay seated and rest, since I'm running on less than six hours sleep. I'm definitely going to get some shut-eye on this overnight flight.

My trip was planned somewhat spontaneously. I am currently of the opinion that I need to get out of LA at least once a month in order to maintain my sanity. So, with some friends of mine on the east coast, what better time than now to visit?