I was so fortunate to be able to ring in 2015 somewhere I have never been. I can now cross Washington, DC of the list. The trip was a combination of a fun, new adventure and learning. I was able to experience a lot of what DC nightlife had to offer, on top of being a typical tourist of the District, visiting museums, monuments and other National Landmarks. Like every new place, there came a new challenge of trying to navigate and gain a sense of direction.
My roommate and I arrived at the Washington Dulles International Airport the morning of December 29th. We stayed with a friend who moved to DC a couple of years ago. She was at work during our arrival so our first challenge was to figure out the best way to get from the airport in Virginia to DC in the most timely and cost-efficient manner. After spending a good amount of time attempting to analyze public transportation methods and getting Uber and cab estimates, the best option we found was to take a van shuttle for $20.00 per person. The van took us straight from the airport to our friend Brianna’s front door. Public transportation involved switching buses multiple times on top of a significant walk once we got into DC. My luggage, full of a weeks worth of winter clothes, was 43.5 pounds so the $20.00 was a great investment for the 35 minute drive.
After dropping our luggage and buying a $12.00 deli sandwich for lunch, we decided to walk in the direction from which our van dropped us off at. Brianna lives on the west side of Georgetown University. We walked toward the University and what we suspected might be downtown Georgetown on our ride in. We walked less than a mile before reaching the famous M Street, NW. The shops are comparable to those on Michigan Avenue combined with unique bars and restaurants. I was no longer concerned with not having a car for the week because we moved faster on foot than any of the cars on M. Within minutes I felt like I was in the prep capital of the world. Earlier in the week I asked Brianna what people wear in DC (because what you wear in Cincinnati are not the same as what you wear in to New Orleans and what you wear in New Orleans is not the same as what you wear to Chicago and what you wear to Chicago is not the same as what you wear to a race track in Kentucky). Hindsight, the answer should have just been “brands”. Coach, Louis V, Tory Burch, Patagonia, Vineyard Vines, Lacoste, etc., etc.
Our journey continued down M as we searched for a bikeshare. We finally reached one nearly two miles from where we started. While Cincinnati has just started a bikeshare program, I had never used one before. The payment instructions were confusing, indicating that there was a minimum payment on top of an hourly charge on top of securing a charge of over $100 on your credit card as “security.” We decided to stick with the free walking and we could borrow bikes another day if we wanted. We reached Pennsylvania Avenue and walked about another mile to the White House. From there, we went to the Washington Monument and the National World World II Memorial. The walking and cold weather took its toll at that point, which was the perfect time for Brianna to swing by and get us on her way home from work (yay, more free).
Its usually doesn’t take me long to gain a basic sense of direction in a new place. I successfully ran to a Walgreens and back one day (sans map because that is the best way to learn), navigated different buses and metro’s to go downtown and to Arlington and gained an overall sense of the different quadrants and main roads in the District. There was so much left unseen but we covered good ground in seven days. Overall, Washington, DC was probably the most expensive place I have ever visited. While public transportation is more expensive compared to most other cities, it is still manageable, financially. Split Uber rides with your friends when going out in the evening and make sure you take the opportunity to walk, every chance you get!