Thursday, April 1, 2010

District of Chaos

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit DC to meet up with my past couchsurfers as well as take in the beautiful cherry blossoms blooming along the tidal basin. Of course after laughing at my couchsurfers for choosing "the best weekend" to come to new york when it was pouring rain, I myself chose "the best weekend" to visit was in the 50s, after peaking at 80+ the week before...

I took a half day on Friday and ran to 33rd at 7th to catch the Bolt bus, a four hour trip to downtown DC. I was impressed with the legroom and leather chairs that reclined more than 10 degrees on the bus. While bus rides are never comfortable, the trip to DC went by fairly quickly, as I checked my iPhone map constantly...

I made it to 10th st & H st around 5pm and figured out the subway system pretty fast. Thank goodness for iPhone applications, as I pre-downloaded a picture of the metro map. Unlike NYC, you have to keep your one way ticket in order to get out...On the metro along the way to my couch surfing host's apartment, I lost my I had to plead with the metro security to let me out, otherwise the gates don't let you through! I explained that it was my first time ever on the Metro, and had no idea i still needed my ticket. I still thought it was strange that I had lost it in 5 metro stops.  On another note, I was in awe of how clean DC's metros are!

Capitol Hill at Sunset (from my phone) clean!

I met up with my 2 couchsurfers for their friend's birthday dinner at an Afghani restaurant. The food was amazing and CRAZY story is: Rita, the girl who was celebrating her birthday was sitting next to me, and all of a sudden she starts speaking Chinese! (she is not chinese). She told me she studied abroad in Beijing fall 2008...I asked where...she told me BLCU! OMG. We were on the same campus at the same time, and I randomly meet her in Washington DC. How crazy is that!?! WHAT A SMALL WORLD! That night I felt a little sick, just from the rapid temperature change, so I had an early night in.

Spinach and lamb, yum!


Connie, my new york couch surfer!

Saturday morning was my time to explore the national mall area. I walked...a lot! My couch surfing host lives 2 blocks from the capitol, which is all at the very east end of the mall. I walked from the Capitol all the way to the washington monument, where the annual kite festival was occurring.  It took me forever to walk around all the active kite-flyers (?). From the monument I walked to the tidal basin, where the entire area was tree-lined with cherry blossoms.  Most of the trees had not budded yet, but it was still a gorgeous sight. I sat along the basin and just people watched for 30 mins.  I really had the yearning to go paddle boating, but I figured it was less fun when looking like an idiot by yourself. Hah! Traveling alone isn't always all that!

Capitol Hill

Kite festival on national mall.


For a late lunch I picked up some Thai food and awaited a call from my friends. I met up with Connie and her friend Arooj at Eastern Market, just about 4 blocks away from my apt. The flea market was beginning to close up, but there were a lot of cute/quaint accessories, nick-nacks, etc...just PRICEY! After perusing the street vendors, we hopped on the train to Virginia (?!) Yeah, random I know. We got a tip to go to Kings St. but it was so cold that when we got there we ducked into a Dunkin Donuts and sat there for an hour talking about what our latter plans would be...The conversation was hilarious, but so nice to get to know both of the girls better...through planning how to get home, where to party, etc.

We finally decided to take the metro back to my apartment, pick up some clothes for the night, and head to their apartment in Maryland (?!) Yeah, I know...far! It took us about an hour on the metro to get to Rockville, but we got back around 10ish, picked up some Lebanese food for dinner, and got dressed to go out. Around midnight we headed back down to DC (insanity), Georgetown to be exact and an hour and x-metro transfers later, we arrived at the Georgetown stop...which was a lot further than I expected. At least I got to see what this part of DC looked like...I was quite shocked. University ave by Stanford has some major competition. Georgetown's downtown is lined with Steve Madden, Betsey Johnson, Zara, American Apparel, Kate Spade, White House Black Label, Urban Outiftters, the list goes on and on. I would seriously lose my money at that school and seriously shopping instead of studying.

Around 1:30 we find a random bar, skip out of paying the cover (woot woot!), and enjoy some great music. Definitely an equivalent of a NYC dive bar in East Village, nothing more. BUT, I did have a great time and met some random people. Sadly, we left at 2...WHO DOES THAT? Well, we did, because the metro closes at 3 am. LAME! We ran to the station and caught the LAST subway and LAST transfer. Even though we left the bar early...we still got to bed LATE. Pretty lame. I think I'll stick to NYC nightlife. I have been so spoiled living in a city that literally never sleeps, plus transportation is such a huge convenience here.

After sleeping 4 hours on Sunday morning, I woke up at 10 so that I could do some last minute sightseeing downtown/at the national mall.  I took the metro for an hour again back to the Capitol to pick up my stuff, said bye to my host and gave her some dove chocolates (yum). With my large duffle I trekked to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. I reminisced about being 9 years old, as that was the last time I visited the museum.  I bought my brother and myself some dog tags...after we each had 2 sets before. I can honestly say the dog tags get cheaper looking each time.

One section of the museum made me particularly happy. It was a section about the WASPs (women air service pilots). During my first year at Smith, I wrote a paper exploring the origins of women in the air force during WWII, documenting Jacquelyn Cochran's efforts to institute women efforts during the war. It was amazing to see their uniform up close.

My first year seminar report!

I was constantly sending my parents pictures via text, and because they were so exhilarated that I was taking advantage of my time there, they started telling me what to see. "You should go see the Hope diamond at the National museum of natural history". I took my dad's advice and trekked across the mall to the museum, found the hope diamond (54 karat diamond in the Harry Winston gallery) and snapped a pic to send to my dad. "How in the world did you get there so fast?" Haha. New york must have trained me to walk with super speed. I went from the air and space museum, to the national history museum, to the White house, to the bus stop in 2 hours. This included sight-seeing as well.  I was pretty impressed especially with the weight of my duffle.  The ride back felt like forever, but I finally made it back to NY and bought a bubble tea on my walk home.

I overheard a woman saying thats not very big...I would like to see her pay for it.

Yesterday, I went to a chocolate taste testing at the Armani store on 5th ave. GORGEOUS store, with an amazing staircase (apparently imported from italy, weird).  I was visiting my longtime mentor who helped me get a job in Shanghai when I was there. She is the global CEO of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and is part of so many world-wide initiatives, I just can't keep up with her! She gave me so much advise regarding my future plans (or lack there of) and even suggested to find funding for me to travel through SE Asia! I love this woman! Anyway, the chocolate was amazing - even though a bit hyped up. Apparently this is the ONLY Armani store in the US to  carry the Armani/Dolci delacacies...which make a really great present to your out-of-state relatives and friends. That's exactly what she did...dropped $500 on chocolates. If only I had her "no-fear" mentality to strive for what I want...She is constant inspiration.

I'm happy to hear that my fellow student ambassadors of session1 are on their way to Shanghai in 2 weeks! I wish them a safe trip, and don't party too hard otherwise Shanghai won't have enough energy for ME!

Recently, I've also been playing travel agent for my parents, planning our trips and hotel reservations. If anyone can advise us on 5-star hotels in HK or Shanghai, it would be much appreciated. My parents are saying no to the Shangri-La in Pudong as we stayed their twice, and they somehow feel like I know another one (?!).

Til next time! Going to hockeyland (Canada) on Saturday and won't be able to post until the 2nd week of April.


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