It’s been three decades since I last visited Washington D.C. during the heady days of Messers Ford and Carter. The US was a global superpower and its capital city reflected it. The Mall was busy with people; the buildings along its stretch were actually shiny and bright like newborn babies, doe-eyed with optimism. The reflecting pool dazzled me with its brilliance and heralded the opportunity of America as a nation seemingly most favoured by the Gods. I was, literally, awed.
G and I had the pleasure of hanging out in Washington for several days last/this week and I was immediately struck by how different the city felt and appeared. Sure, I acknowledge 30 years is a long time so it is only natural some weathering would occur, but that vibrant spirit of the city I so vividly remembered was gone. I found a city deflated, if you will. A city that feels out of step, or no, lost. As if it knows its best days are behind it and now is adrift trying to find itself again but only halfheartedly. The‘shine’ is absent; the reflecting pool a muddy construction zone, the ponds around it a grotesque green. The people remain for sure – busloads of overweight Midwesterners attired alike in florescent t-shirts emblazoned with “Capitol Tour 2011” move in solemn masses amid the local joggers (does anyone work in DC anymore?) and tired monuments looking for answers to further their Tea Party perspectives. And sadly but quite rightly the city’s spectacles are post-911 fortresses of security.
On Tuesday we walked from the hotel out to the Jefferson Memorial. Standing there beside this nation’s 3rd President I wondered what he would think of this city and his nation as he stands there stoically bronzed gazing out over the Tidal Basin?
Do capital cities, I wonder, mirror the state and health of their nations? Gosh, therein lies a doctorate dissertation me thinks.
Anyhow, we split our time in the city spending a few nights firstly at the Park Hyatt Washington on the fringes of Georgetown. The Park Hyatt remains a beacon of class and the Georgetown area proper seems to have weathered the storms of age very well – it is hip and happening and moneyed with great shopping along M street west of where Pennsylvania Ave crosses it.
3 & 4) we had a stunning suite up on the top floor with the longest sofa I’ve seen in some time
5) the bedroom; 6) and bathroom
7) it had a gorgeous sanctuary style shower and tub; 8) and the biggest closet I’ve seen in a while
We were truly honoured to spend Saturday afternoon and evening hanging out with aaron. Thanks for trekking in from the Ace of Cakes’ hometown to meet us. Thanks for the advice on hat selection, talk of food, talk of runs together, and glad you enjoyed dinner! See you soon.
On Friday evening we dined at the Hyatt’s Blue Duck Tavern which prepares locally-inspired fare with everything sourced from surrounding farmers, fishmongers and butchers. Dinner was good – a minor champagne faux pas aside (we had to request the bottle be iced).
9) the Blue Duck Tavern
10) the restaurant has an open kitchen; 11) one of our many dishes – this was bone marrow
12) a yummy beet salad; 13) scallops
14) “Pee Wee” potato salad (sadly far too over seasoned); 15) and a sort of goat cheese pie with spinach
We then transferred across to the St Regis right downtown for another couple nights. A highlight here was the champagne sabering in the lobby. We duly grilled the sommelier afterward on the secret of success (seems much of the shock and awe is sheer luck) and will be trying this at home soon. The lounge here – attached to Adour restaurant is very good and serves, I must admit, the BEST croque monsieur sandwich I have ever eaten. So good, in fact, I returned twice to enjoy it … and chef knows how to perfectly dress a salad to boot.
We busied ourselves doing the requisite gallery and monument tours and ate well. On Monday we also tried J&G Steakhouse at W Washington.
16) moi with Lincoln; 17) Lincoln’s home
18) the man himself; 19) the non-reflecting, reflecting pool … unless you count muddy reflections
20) honouring those that gave the ultimate price; 21) this is actually the real colour of the water … yuck!
22 & 23) the Exorcist steps from the movie … G and aaron enjoyed – in particular – watching the big beefy lad (in picture on right) doing his chin ups and going up and down the stairs – boys will be boys I suppose
24 & 25) the view from the top of the Washington Monument … on a VERY hot and VERY humid day
26) the Washington Metro … once you’ve seen one station, you’ve seen them all
27) heading out to explore the market; 28) the Capitol but of course
29) a wannabe politician? … not!; 30) ironically Capital Pride was on as we visited … these lad were practicing a line dance [rolls eyes] how fey
31) the stage was set, we did not visit; 32) the FABULOUS croque monsieur at the St. Regis
33) if at first you don’t succeed … keep trying … and trying
34 & 35) the secret is a heavy dull knife and finding the seam on the bottle
36) our second home in Washington; 37) the bathroom
38 & 39) the bedroom and sitting room – a world away in style from the Park Hyatt yes
40) the National Art Gallery
41) the Smithsonian; 42) the White House
43) the modern wing of the National Gallery (we loved it here); 44) inside the Air and Space museum
Wednesday night we found ourselves staying at the Park Hyatt Chicago as we passed through for dinner at Quartino’s with dear friends Paul & Karen … thanks for the conversation and dinner as always, and sorry about the parking ticket!
47 & 48) our room at the Park Hyatt in Chicago
49) mini gifts from the management; 50) a better gift from the management
51) for lunch we ate at Giordano’s; 52) our tapas platter at Quartino’s
53) Karen, Paul and moi outside Quartino’s
Last night we’ve landed at W Minneapolis – and enjoyed hanging out at Prohibition, the hotel’s lounge up on the 27th floor of the historical Foshay Building. We had a real urge to watch the classic movie Fargo while in Minneapolis and borrowed it from the front desk which then set us on a quest to visit Fargo (even noting the film was largely filmed elsewhere).
We enjoyed touring the Guthrie Center and then made an obligatory stop at the Mall of America.
54) where’s the cheese?; 55) our room at W Minneapolis
56 & 57) more of our room
58( the funky lobby of W; 59) the memorial plaque from the building which went up in late August 1939
60) the beautiful original elevator doors in the lobby of W; 61) the hotel exterior – there is an observation deck up there on the 30th floor and just below is the lounge, Prohibition – where you see the balcony
62) G heads to our room; 63) the ahi tuna tacos at Prohibition
64) the snack tary at Prohibition; 65) me enjoying the food and drinks on high
66) and then back to the room to watch Fargo
67) the view from the observation deck