Wednesday, July 15, 2015

DC in a Glimpse

I was lucky enough to be sent by my office for another training and conference in Washington, DC. Aside from the very tight and hectic schedule, I still enjoyed the trip (even though the exhaustion keeps on bugging me up to today). I wanted to share some of the places and experience in more details, but for the entree, let me share some of the glimpses and highlights of the life in the US capital.

1. Pedestrian is the King!
Yes, not like in some other cities in the world *cough, Jakarta, cough* - DC is actually pretty nice with their pedestrians. Even though there are no traffic lights, as long as there's a zebra cross and pedestrians crossing the street, then all drivers must stop their cars and let the pedestrians cross. Several times I forgot about this and stopped at the side of the street when I saw a car approaching, but then the car itself stopped immediately and let me passed. How very nice, I wonder when will Jakarta implements the same policy? *in my dream*

2. Local Food? What Local Food?
It's easy to find good food in DC - lots of great restaurants are located in this city - including in my hotel area (Calvert Street and Adams Morgan). Various cuisines from all over the world are served in the restaurants, from Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, French, Mediteranian, etc etc. But when you try to find a restaurant that served  local cuisine, then you will have to try harder. Nobody could really recommend a good place, let alone mention the type of local cuisines they have. In the end, you will have to be satisfied with sandwich, burger, or salad. True story.

3. Going the Metro Way
DC is one of the cities in the US that has a good public transportation system. The residents rely more on the Metro, or subway, to go everywhere in the city. The system is simple enough, and even for a disoriented person like me, who can't read map and doesn't know where the North is, the Metro can be navigated pretty easily. You can go almost anywhere by Metro. And even though there's no Metro station near your destination, at least you can continue by bus, since the bus route is complemented the Metro.

4. Not a Shopping Destination
If you want to do serious shopping, then DC is not the place. There are not many hip branded stores here, even when we looked for an Apple store, there's only one in the area. I also looked for a basketball shoes- a new and a bit rare brand- and can't find it in most of the sport stores. It's very different than New York, when I transited in the city, I can almost immediately spot the basketball shoes in the nearest shop. But don't worry - DC is great in terms of souvenir shops (almost every tourist spot has its own souvenir shop- and they are all great!!), museum stores (love, love this part of museum trip LOL) and secondhand bookstores (I should really write a separate post on this topic). So.. for me, DC is great, because it can fulfill almost all of my yearnings (vintage thingy, cute trinkets, unique souvenirs, and of course, books!!) - and I'm not a big branded person myself, so all's well.

5. Freebies
DC offers lots of free things to do, all the Smithsonian Museums in the National Mall area are admission-free. The zoo is also free. The memorials, parks and statues are free. And even some historical places, like Capitol Building or Library of Congress - offers free tour for the tourist. Really, the only thing that you should be aware is the souvenir shops :)

6. Overpriced 
Although DC offers lots of free things to do, unfortunately the living cost in the city is very high. I stayed in Mariot Wardman Park Hotel for the conference. It's a very expensive hotel (more than USD 300 per night), but with very minimum facilities. I mean, they don't even provide hotel slippers, or free wifi in the room, or even a mailing service (instead of having someone to deliver my package, I have to go to tha mailing room and search my package there). It's expensive, overpriced, unreasonable, but it's DC.

7. Stiff!
I worked mostly with government offices in the US, and in most of my meetings, there's noone who offered me drinks, or something to eat, or any kind of pleasantness. It's so different than if we have a meeting in Indonesian government offices. There's most likely hot tea, or some snacks, or even lunch box. But in DC, you will have to bring your own stuff. Even in lunch time, you have to buy your own lunch. So there you go, be nice with Indonesian officials :) You know there are worse people to work with on the other side of the world :)

I'll write more about Washington, DC in my next posts. Crossing fingers there won't be more writing slump :)