12 hours in DC

The past few months I have had to do quite a bit of travel for work.  When I can I like to take the opportunity to do a little exploring, especially when I get to go to one of my favorite places – Washington D.C.  Excluding sleep and work time I had about 12 hours and a whole list of things to check out.

I was staying at a Hilton in Rockville, MD which was directly across the street from a Metro station and was very convenient.  I got my Metro card and was off.  First stop was the Tidal Basin to see if any of the cherry blossoms had survived the rainy week but there was not a blossom to be found.  My next stop was the National Air & Space Museum.  I had not been there in many years and I wanted to check out the space shuttle (it was only later in the evening that I remembered the shuttle was at a separate location).  What I did see was a killer show at the planetarium!  After that I headed back to the hotel.

The next day I had my work to do and we got done nice and early which left me an entire afternoon to enjoy the city.  I had scoped out some yarn stores and definitely wanted to check those out but was having a hard time decided what else to do.  In the end when I looked at the map a plan surfaced.  First stop was Looped Yarn Works which is in the DuPont Circle area of DC.  I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to check out that neighborhood and I loved it!  Very cute little stores and restaurants and lovely old homes.  Looped was on the second floor of a building with a restaurant on the first floor.  It was a small, cozy space.

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In the front room there were a few people sitting around knitting, including the rarest knitter – a male!  They had a great selections of yarn, including several different yarns from local spinners.  It was hard to decide what to buy but then I saw this kit which included some local yarn and a very cool pattern that would always remind me of DC!

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At some point someone had recommended I check out the Phillips Collection and when I looked at the map I saw it was a few blocks from Looped so that was my next stop.  While not one of the many free museums in DC this little gem is worth the price.  The museum is housed in the home of the original collector, Duncan Phillips.  So there is artwork to check out and architecture.  The original home is beautiful and amazing.  The collection of art is wonderful and contained one of my favorites, Monet.  They are quite strict with the security and bag policy so it’s not a place for inquisitive children.  I think there was less security in the Louvre…

I then headed down towards the White House, another place I had not visited on my last few trips.  But, I had my friend’s son’s Flat Stanley and it seemed like the perfect place for a picture and it was located across from another small museum I wanted to see, the Corcoran Gallery.  Again, this is another museum with a small admission charge but worth it.  It is located in a very old, very cool building and they have a little bit of everything.  It is connected with a design school so there were student exhibits which were very modern and mixed media and they also had classics, including some more Monet and the not to be missed Salon Dore which was brought over from an 18th century hotel in Paris.  I then did a quick walk-by the White House which is always provides some interesting people watching.

The next day I had a flight to catch but wanted to make a few stops on my way to the airport.  First stop was Georgetown Cupcakes (although I went to the Bethesda location).  I tried the flavor of the month – cherry blossom and I had to say but it was okay.  A little dense for me but tasty.  There was quite a line even though I got there when it opened.  My next stop was The Yarn Stop in Silver Spring, MD.  Everyone was very friendly and it was a huge store.  They also had some great local yarns and I, of course, had to pick up some more fabulous yarn.

I crammed a lot of fun into a few short hours but there is always to much to see and do in DC and it made a work trip so much better!

New friends, new places

Way back on a cold winter night in January I got a call from one of my knitting friends asking me about Paris and telling me her and her niece were planning on going over the summer, probably sometime in July.  We were talking about places to see in Paris and we had several places which overlapped.  Since both her and her niece are teachers they were free to go whenever they wanted.  That’s when we decided to have our trips overlap.  I stayed an extra couple of days to meet up with them and they arrived around 11:30 this morning.

I wanted to be at full strength when they arrived so I decided to take it easy this morning.  I had scoped out a couple of yarn stores before I left and did not realize until last night that one of them was a 5 minutes walk from the hotel.  Perfect morning activity!  I stopped at a cafe and had breakfast (a croissant and the best orange juice I’ve had, this is saying a lot because I’m not a big juice fan…) watched the crazy Paris traffic and relaxed  until the yarn store would be open.  I arrived right at 11 at Caf’e Tricot Studio (www.cafetricotstudio.com) and the owner was very nice and let the stalking shopper in.  It was a decdent size space (for Paris) and she had lots of yarn and samples.  It was interesting because it appeared she carried yarns from two companies but all the varieties offered.  This is unlike stores in the states which usually carry a variety of brands but perhaps only a few of their offerings.  I managed to find some yarn to buy (I know, surprising!) and it was made in Italy and is not something I’ve seen at home so we will see what it might become someday!

I then headed back to meet up with my friends.  It was so nice to have new people to talk with (not that I didn’t enjoy my travel group but I had been with only them for 2 weeks…).  We headed straight for the Musee de l’Orangerie.  If you have not heard of it don’t worry I had not either until our priest mentioned at some point during the planning stages.  It’s this tiny museum in a corner of the Tuillers Garden but what is important is that it houses Monet’s Water Lillies.  I can’t say as I have ever seen a space better designed to show off art than I did today.  The paintings in those two rooms just belong there and are spectular (we are going to see the actually gardens tomorrow and can’t wait).  The lines are much shorter at this museum as opposed to the Lourvre or the d’Orsay.  The bottom floor has quite a large collection of some other Impressionists so you get the flavor of the d’Orsay without the lines or crowds.

After that we grabbed some lunch on the Rue de Rivoli and then the new arrivals needed a rest period.  Since I had been leading them around I made sure they had directions back to the hotel and I headed down to the Champs Elysees to how prep for the Tour de France is coming.  They are setting up the crowd barriers and hanging flags – can’t wait to watch on Sunday!

I still had some time and it was boiling hot so I looked at my list of things to do and remembered that my friend Diana had posted about a special corset exhibit at the Textile Museum.  As I learned today it is housed in part of the Lourvre building so the inside was  beautiful.  The museum was close to where we ate lunch to I headed back figuring it would shelter me from the sun, be somewhat cooler and have bathrooms.  The exhibit blew me away.  It was two floors, interactive (they had a part where you could try on constructed samples of the corsets in the display), had movies and tons and tons of corsets and other garmets constructed with corsets.  Some were very old.  It was dark (to preserve the fabric) and super cool (again for the fabric) so it was the perfect spot to hide all afternoon.

I had planned to meet up with my newly refreshed friends to head out and explore the neighborhood our hotel is in.  We are staying in the 20th arrondissement.  The most famous thing close to us is Pere Lachaise Cemetary.  It’s a little on the fringe and is very residential which is nice because you don’t have the tourist scammers, just your random homeless people.  Our first stop was a cafe for a caffeine break.  And then we were off.  We found lots of fun stuff on the walk and it was nice because we were not moving at a death march pace.  We saw a cute park, some great buildings, a weird mini China town and many intoxicating smelling bakeries.

We made it back to the hotel and popped in for a bathroom break.  My friend checked her travel guide and there was wine bar nearby that was recommended so we set out to find it.  It was pretty close, but it was closed 😦  We had passed a happening looking joint so we went back there.  It was perfect!  The best part of the whole meal was when they brought my friend’s dish (she ordered lamb, kind of accidentally bbut that’s another story) and it had a flaming piece of rosemary sticking out of it.  A+++ for presentation, it was beautiful and the aroma was awesome!

We are off to Giverny, home of Monet and his garden tomorrow!