Sunday, June 7, 2009

Washington, D.C. -- A trip wrap-up

I realized today that I haven’t updated about my vacation in Washington, DC! Ton and I spent eight days touring our my (he’s only a permanent resident not a citizen!) nation’s capital. It was fun but it was tiring. Driving was an absolute nightmare! I was thrilled to take the metro and not have to fool with it. The metro stop was at the end of the block by our hotel—so convenient!

Overall, DC seemed to lack heart and spirit to me. It felt like a place people work and people visit but not a place where people lived. (I should add the caveat that I came down with the flu my first night in DC and fought it the entire trip. That probably colored my perceptions.) Of course there were exceptions to this feeling, Chinatown, Woodley Park and Adams Morgan all felt very homey. But it was so easy to get overwhelmed by the history and the hype of the place that you would forget all of those places. I have to admit, I grew bored with the history and patriotic flag-waving of DC. The Korean War Memorial moved me to tears while the Vietnam Memorial didn’t have the impact that I thought it would. Arlington Cemetery felt sacred— Bobby Kennedy’s grave in particular moved me. It was so alone, so separate and also larger ignored by so many people who were touring that day. There were also three funerals while we were there. One was apparently of a fairly high-ranking person as he had a large honor detail and funeral cortege. Capitol Hill felt rather…slimy. So many staffers running about, trying to look confident and important. I didn’t even want to venture inside. We saved the Library of Congress tour for the last day—and wow. I was so overcome with the building that I never wanted to leave. What person who loves books, loves libraries, loves the very notion of an archives would ever WANT to leave? The building was so incredibly gorgeous that I felt my head would spin off from trying to look in all directions at once. I wanted to sit and absorb the feeling of that space—fill myself up with it.

But the best thing about DC, the most AMAZING thing was the art. Oh, my. To live in that place and have Vermeer at your fingertips, to have Picasso at your beck and call…Gah. I was wandering through the National Gallery and was so overwhelmed by it all that I could hardly breathe. I turned a corner and there before on the wall was Portrait of a Lady by Rogier van der Weyden. Much to Ton’s embarrassment I once again began to cry in an art gallery. I adore this painting. I wrote a paper on it for one of my art classes. I researched it in detail. And I had forgotten that this dear lady lives in DC now. What a joy to see it in person. She is exquisite. Simply masterful. And to see not one but three Vermeer! WOW. Unfortunately, the fourth one, “Woman holding a balance” was on loan to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Still very, very impressive and I couldn’t be sad at not having seen it. We discovered a surprising gem, the Renwick Gallery. One afternoon we visited the White House and decided to walk further down the street. We happened upon a beautiful art deco building and noticed it was a gallery. We decided to stop in and thank goodness we did! What a treat. They were hosting an exhibition of work of Greene and Greene. I adore their work—anything in the craftsman style is right up my alley. The exhibition was breath-taking—more so because it was completely unexpected. (Let me add a sidenote here: We had pictures of the White House, the Renwick Gallery, the Korean War and Vietnam Memorials but they have disappeared from Ton’s harddrive! Evidently in moving files to another disk, he erased them. He has been soundly lashed for the oversight.)

On to the important stuff-- we had wonderful food in DC! Never had a bad meal OR bad service and that’s saying something! Four meals in particular stand out. First was at a restaurant in the Woodley Park neighborhood—Mediterra. Serving Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food, it was simply wonderful! The baba ghanoush was TO DIE FOR! Another fantastic meal was had at La Tasca. I adore everything about tapas—the slow build of the meal, sharing good food, good wine and good times. And this place had incredible food! We also searched out Good Stuff, a burger joint that was opened by Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn. And it was worth the journey! I had the Prez Obama burger—a burger topped with applewood bacon, Roquefort cheese and red onion marmalade and I also had a side order of Spike’s Village Fries—handcut fries topped with sea salt, cracked pepper, rosemary and thyme. Delish! Our final night, we ventured into Chinatown, the one spot in DC that I felt had true heart and character. We had a wonderful Chinese meal there one evening but on our last night we wanted something different. We found a tiny Indian restaurant and gave it a try. Wow. So glad we did! The service was incredible and the food was fantastic. Mehak was a perfect way to end our stay in DC.

I’m posting a few of my favorite pictures—they are in no way representative of everything we saw! These are simply the ones that stand out in my mind. I’ll post a link to the entire set at the end.

Lincoln Memorial at sunset

Mr. Lincoln

Metro Station—or the Senate Chamber from Star Wars. Or the pods from the Matrix???
Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stop

World War II Memorial

Ton at the WWII Memorial—Look! North Carolina!

Gazing at the Library of Congress

Interior shot at the Library of Congress

Interior shot at the Library of Congress

Ton contemplating Giacomo Balla's Boccioini's Fist: Lines of Force II.
Contemplation of Balla's Sculpture

Sculpture contemplating Family of Saltimbanques, 1905 by Pablo Picasso. National Gallery of Art.
IMG_0208 crop

A view of Mondrian. National Gallery of Art.
A view of Mondrian II

An old married couple. National Zoo.

Mother and child. National Zoo.

Intruding. (I really felt like I was interrupting her private time with her baby.) National Zoo.

Jellyfish. National Zoo.

My beloved Komodo dragon. National Zoo.

Finally, the glasses that beg for a matching purse and hat.
Do these glasses make my nose look big?

If you want to see more, and let’s face it who wouldn’t, you can check out all of the rest on my Flickr page. Be warned, as usual, there are A LOT of pictures.

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