Today I realized that it has been about two months since I last did a Saturday City. I like the series, even if it doesn’t draw a lot of comments. It’s a good way for me to remember all those places I’ve been and I thought there would be no better way to re-launch this series than by highlighting the capital of the United States. (It’s not because I’m some super ardent patriot but because Obama has been in the news a lot lately.)
I’ve been to Washington D.C. many times. When I was kid, my family used to drive down to Florida to visit my grandmother. We always stopped to see relatives in New Jersey and then would usually swing by D.C. to visit some of the sites. When I was in college, I used to live right outside the city so I often went into sightsee and enjoy the nightlife. In 2006, when I set off to drive across the country, I stopped in D.C. to see it with adult eyes.
D.C. is an interesting place. The city is a mix of wealth and poverty. While the members of Congress and those who attend to them spend lots of money, much of the city is quite poor and very dangerous. You just don’t go to certain parts of the city. It has a reputation for being one of the most violent cities in America. However, mixed in with that is a big student population that keeps the city lively, tons of tourists visiting from all over the world, and a huge amount of museums and historic sites to visit. It’s certainly a city with extremes.
I like D.C. for two reasons: the historic sites and the food. If you really want to learn about America, there is no better place to do it than the capital. Here, you have all the major places of government, monuments to presidents and heroes past, the Smithsonian museums, and a plethora of other museums to visit. The Smithsonian has dozens of museums covering every topic that you can think of. I particularly love the American History Museum and Museum of Natural History. The Holocaust Museum is both wonderful and heart-wrenching at the same time — wonderful because it is so well-done and heart-wrenching because, well, it’s the Holocaust.
And call me a geek, but I love the monuments too. The Jefferson and Lincoln Monuments are by far my favorite. The monument to FDR is great and often goes unnoticed but it has a lovely fountain, beautiful statues, great quotes, and a Japanese garden nearby (which is sort of ironic, don’t you think?). The Vietnam Memorial is haunting. The Washington Mall is great to relax on. Overall, D.C. is just a great city to wander around in, especially if you are a history geek like myself.
The other reason I like D.C. is because of the great food. Maybe I am just lucky, but I always seem to find great restaurants. Last time I was there, I had great Mexican food. In college, I found this great Italian place in Georgetown. I also found this cool fondue place near George Washington University. Maybe it is all the embassies and the mix of people who live here but D.C. has incredible dining. Every kind of food imaginable exists here thanks to all the foreign offices in the city. D.C is a culinary delight because no one wants to declare a trade war on a stomach full of bad food.
Overall, I love passing through Washington. It’s a fun city, there is always something to do, great food to eat, and the Smithsonian never gets old. If you are coming to the States, stop here. Sightseeing will give you a rich and deep knowledge of American history: our founding, our culture, and our government. Maybe you’ll even spot Obama — there’s always hope.