Making the Most of DC

gardens at night
Photo by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel

I go to our nation’s capital a few times a year for work. On a recent trip, I barely had a free moment between 12-14 hour days of meetings, workshops, networking, and a barrage of information. I needed to slow things down. I deliberately booked my hotel at a less expensive option near the conference event, so I could get out of the stale indoor air and walk a little daily.

This time, my eye caught an outdoor photo exhibit called Gardens by Night on the exterior walls of the National Geographic Museum. The images were backlit, so I resolved to check it out on the way back to my hotel that night.

Diane Cook and Len Jenshel photographed Japanese gardens, sanctuaries created by wealthy eccentrics, and magical flowers that bloom once a year, at night. The lighting lends itself to quiet spookiness and serenity. The accompanying commentary was witty. The 41 images will definitely provide inspiration for future adventures.

I also checked out a few restaurants in downtown and nearby. It’s a pricier neighborhood, because you’re sandwiched between the White House and K Street lobbyists, but my favorites include:

Georgia Brown’s for upscale southern cuisine. The atmosphere is fun and cozy. Last time, I had the Southern Fried Chicken, this time, the Carolina gumbo (with shrimp, Andouille sausage, chicken, crab, duck confit), and I would recommend both. The salted caramel crème brulee was good, but prepared in advance in a wide dish, with a higher sugar to custard ratio than I prefer.

Boqueria for lunch. The space is clean and refined. The wine selection is impressive. I had the bocata de jamón serrano and tried the dátiles con beicon, buñuelos de bacalao, and croquetas, all exemplary. I hadn’t even been to Boqueria in NYC because I have my own jamón serrano connection, but I’m glad I stumbled upon it here.

Dukem for Ethiopian. There is a sizeable immigrant Ethiopian population in DC, so it’s one of two foods I try to have on a trip here (the other is crab). Our group took a cab to reach the U Street Corridor. We tried two combination platters, and soaked up every delicious bite with spongy injera.

Mitsitam Cafe for lunch. My companion and I had just enough time to stop at the National Museum of the American Indian after our last meeting, and feasted on an Indian taco (chipotle chicken on fry bread) and a pulled buffalo sandwich (the latter was the clear favorite). No time for the exhibit, however, but there’s always next time.

And I learned from a local that I could get a SmarTrip card for $5, saving $1 per ride relative to a paper ticket. Good deal!

So, I try to carve out some time for reflection and perspective on a trip, whether trying new restaurants, checking out free museum hours in the evening, or exploring a park. It makes traveling for work that much more enjoyable.

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