Other than Hawaii, which is an optimal place to spend any weekend, what better place to spend President’s Day weekend than our nation’s capital? At least that’s what my girlfriend and I thought, so we drove down Saturday morning and had a great time.
A few observations:
• The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: What an emotionally draining experience. I can honestly say I learned more here than I have in a single day in a long time, but after nearly four hours, I was sapped.
The curators did an absolutely fantastic job with this place. Everything is so thorough, and some of the genuine articles they were able to preserve and borrow from other collections are unbelievable.
One thing I didn’t expect (and hadn’t really read much about in the past) was the fact that the U.S. government basically got taken to task for knowing what was going on in Europe during the late 1930s and early 1940s and doing absolutely nothing about it. I expected a museum located a short walk from the White House and the Capitol to sugar-coat things a little, and I’m impressed that this wasn’t the case.
Another thing I noticed: There were several kids in the museum who, in my opinion, were way too young to deal with some of the really graphic stuff. I think taking anyone under 12 to the museum is pushing it. I’m a firm believer that this generation and future generations should know what happened, but I also don’t think an eight-year-old should see some of the things that are displayed.
• The DuPont Circle area: I’m a drinker, not a planner. Fortunately, I’m dating a planner. All of the logistics this past weekend could not have possibly worked out better, so I wanted to plug a few of the places we visited.
The DuPont Circle area in general is a great place to stay if you’re visiting D.C. There is a healthy supply of bars and restaurants within walking distance, along with a Metro station (more on that below).
We stayed at the Hotel Madera. It was a beautiful older building, with a lot of character, and everything about the stay was pleasant. There were some neat little touches, like a wine hour from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. and a bowl of Oreos to greet guests returning home from the bars.
We also had some damn good meals. Our first lunch destination was Circa, where I had the best salad I’ve had in years. The place was busy and obviously popular, and it had a great beer and wine selection.
While wandering around the area and looking for dinner, we tripped across Raku, which describes itself as an Asian diner. We ordered two completely different meals — a noodle dish and sushi — and both were excellent. We had some fun, inexpensive cocktails, as well, including one concoction that was a mix of sake and plum wine.
A must for brunch, despite the long wait, was Afterwords Café, part of a bookstore called Kramerbooks. It was well worth the wait. The brunch menu was huge, our food was outstanding and, much like Circa, Afterwords also had an impressive wine and beer selection.
• Beer: Speaking of beer, I’m sure anyone who knows me is far from shocked that this is a topic. I had several great beer experiences in our nation’s capital. Two Irish pubs in the DuPont Circle area — James Hoban’s and Biddy Mulligan’s, which is actually part of an Irish hotel called Jury’s — poured two of the best pints of Guinness I’ve enjoyed in quite some time. And we had dinner at Capitol City Brewing, where the excellent food was complemented by Prohibition Porter and Nut Brown Ale, both absolutely delicious.
• The Metro: Every time I ride the Washington version of the subway, I wonder what New York did wrong. Obviously, D.C. had the advantage of building its system well after New York did, but everything is so clean, spacious, well-lit and efficient. I’m jealous.
By the way, if anyone would like to buy a fare card with $1.90 remaining, let me know. I might even let it go for $1.50.