We jumped on the Metro early in the morning (and for those of you from the San Francisco Bay Area, you will be surprised to see that is is disturbingly similar to BART, right down to the ticket kiosk's) took a short walk and arrived at the (in)famous Watergate building. We happened to have arrived on the anniversary of the scandal and were freshly versed on the debacle. What I love about DC is that you have a sense of being somewhere that things are happening. No matter your opinion of politics, the energy and vibrancy of that city will touch you. We arrived the same time of the African summit and it felt like we were in a different world. Making our way through the hotel bar, we swam through so many different styles of dress and languages, that we felt as if we were already abroad. It was a wonderful way to get our minds prepared for the adventures ahead. The gift that keeps on giving in that city is the Smithsonian institutions. The range and depth of those museums could entertain me for years. It felt cruel to be limited to just eight hours.
Here is a quick rundown of those not to miss:
The Hirshhorn is modern art in all of its glory. The building itself is a bit otherworldly and gets your mind ready before you even enter.
The Musuem of Natural History could swallow you whole for a month. Choose a few exhibits carefully or risk spending your whole glorious day here.
The National Gallery of Art has all of the big hitters that you would want to see, yet they also carry a depth of paintings that keep you interested after you see the more well known masterpieces.
The Library of Congress sounds dry, but has amazing architecture, mosaic work, and rare documents on display. There are free tours every hour, which helps you save your pennies for fermented things and foodstuffs. If you come early enough, you can get yourself a library card, which allows you access to the library proper. They have a copy of EVERY book published in the United States. If you want more then that, good luck...
The Zoo is famous for its world renowned Panda exhibit and breeding program. The gifting of Panda's between China and the US is part of international diplomacy, which makes it particularly fitting to for the D.C. zoo. I didn't come for the Panda's. I went to see the big cats and was not disappointed. If you want a good show, I highly recommend the lions as well as the tigers. The females are breeding well and we were lucky to see six cubs in addition to two females and one big bad daddy.
The Corcoran, which is actually an arts college, has a phenomenal and more tightly curated collection then the Smithsonian museums. It spans Roman marbles to contemporary art. The schools art collection is not free but worth it, only $5 after 6pm on special days.
The neighborhood that was most vibrant (and right next to the zoo with a handy happy hour) was Adam’s Morgan. A blend on college town and White House interns, the scene has everything from dingy smoke shops to high end restaurants. I was more then pleased with the cocktail culture and we managed a meeting at The Roofers Union. And true to the East Coast expectations, a beyond pleasing assortment of local craft beer and bartenders game for "bespoke" cocktails. They are lucky bastards in D.C.!