Saturday, July 3, 2010

Shhh... I'm Having a Love Affair

Yes, it's true. I am having a little love affair with one of my favorite cities, Washington D.C. I have been having a bit of a fling with my city while my Darling Daughter stayed with her BFF in Fairfax, VA. On Monday, my Darling Husband flew up to DC to work and he got a hotel near Tysons Corner. Oh, the bliss. I packed my fling bag and off I went to join him at the hotel.

And my, oh my, we had quite a fling indeed. We're working on 25 years of marriage together (this August we mark the quarter century of not shoving each other off the end of a plank) and one of the best parts of our marriage is our mutual desire to explore our world. We've been lucky with our travels. We've gone to Paris, camped in France, been to The Netherlands, Canada, all over the USA and more. We've lived in Knoxville, Houston, Fairfax and we currently reside in Alabama.

Confession: there is only one reason we are in Alabama--DH's job.

As is true with all changes, this move has brought us many wonderful and positive things. First of all, DH's career is solid. Second, I have met some of the BEST writing friends and my career has been in high gear due to the fabulous writing chapters I belong to here. Third, my Darling Daughter is super thriving in her new school with her fabulous new friends. Fourth, I have a beautiful new home with a dream kitchen. Can't complain.

Confession: as much as I love all the positives about my new digs, I truly miss the city.

I am a city girl at heart. I love the action, the variety, the museums, the pace, the unique shops, the energy I find in a big city. My northern AL small town is not filling my need for adventure. I've explored it to the max and pretty much covered it all in the two years I've lived there. So I've hauled to Birmingham, Atlanta and Nashville for a change of scene whenever I have an opportunity to hit the road. These jaunts feed my city girl soul.

But oh, I was spoiled in DC. I wasn't the kind of person who just hung out in my neighborhood when I lived here. Nope. DD and DH would often join me on my jaunts into the city. And DC is filled with the best of the best: culture, history, eclectic neighborhoods, ethnic cuisine is not limited to Italian and Mexican food, roof top terrace restaurants, political icons, monuments, gorgeous tree lined embassy rows, sidewalk cafes, secret service hang outs, and energy. Just plain energy. Outside of DC, a mere 30 minutes drive in some cases, there are wineries, rolling hills and interesting small pockets of history. Oh, how I used to love to go to the wineries with a picnic and just sit and relax.

This week we crammed it all into 5 glorious days of exploration and rejuvenation. I fed my city girl soul to the point of overflowing. On Monday we went to my favorite Lebanese restaurant, the Lebanese Taverna. Then we went to Merrifield where there is an ongoing effort to reclaim the area with unique restaurants and condos. We had drinks at the Sea Pearl and a wonderful lamb kebob appetizer. On Wednesday we drove into the city and parked the car for the day. Afterward we walked to the Smithsonian Mall where we quickly checked out the new American History Museum. Then we walked along the boulevard of grass and watched the crews get ready for the 4th of July extravaganza. Oh, the marble, the white stone gleaming against the brilliant blue skies never fails to take my breath away. The ornate carvings on the pillars, the majesty of the Lincoln and the Jefferson Memorials, the reflecting pond that is filled with beautiful cherry blossoms every spring, the sheer vibrance of it all gives me a lift.

After we walked the boulevard, we went to the W Hotel rooftop terrace. At the top of the terrace there is a restaurant called POINT OF VIEW. You can see the treasury, the White House (which did not have a lot of secret service people on it because the president was not in residence), the Pentagon, the monuments, the airplanes lifting off into the air from Reagan National, Rosslyn's expensive condos and apartments and the Arlington Cemetery where Robert E. Lee's house stands. Amazing!

From there we went to Dupont Circle via the Metro. We had an appie at La Tomate, a restaurant that is literally on the corner so is in the shape of a funky U. We sat outside and people watched for over an hour. So fun. Then we walked through all the embassy rows and took pictures of the flags and the houses. We went by Robert Kennedy's house and snapped a photo of that. Then we finished our jaunt with a sit down outside at a Greek Restaurant where we continued to watch people strolling by after their busy workdays while we sipped wine. Sigh. It was heaven. We capped off the day by going to Old Ebbitt's Grill where we had a traditional sandwich, Reuben for me, and reminisced about the secret service guys we knew who hang out there to smoke cigars and unwind after their shifts. This was a great day.

On Thursday, we drove to the hills outside of Fairfax and visited two old favorites, MIDDLEBURG and Chrysalis Winery. First we stopped at the historic Red Fox Inn for lunch. Oh, it was delicious. Then we drove over to the beautiful winery and sat outside (no humidity folks), people watched, and chilled out. Later that night, we joined some friends for dinner outside, el fresco. Fabulous day!

Yesterday, we finished our fling by going back into the city to check out Georgetown. This is a busy part of town, the traffic is always insane, and the sidewalks are always full of bustling students, tourists and business people. We went to our favorite, "first find" restaurant, BISTRO FRANCAIS, and had a delicious lunch. The windows were open to the outside and we enjoyed another round of people watching. I love that! Then we walked up and down the streets and finished up down on the Potomac River. Kayakers, boaters, and people picnicking on the lawn were out in full force to enjoy the fabulous weather and day.

We love this city. It is our city in that we know it but still discover new things about it whenever we are here. I know we will always return to see it because we don't just love the city, we love the friends we have who still live here. I know city life is not for everyone, but it is a big part of who I am.

So what are you? City or Country or a little of both?


MaryC said...

Good morning, Christine. I feel like I just took a quickie vacation through DC. You did a fabulous job describing your city and conveying your love for it. My DDs decided to take a mini-break together last Easter vacation so they visited DC for 2 days all on their own. Their favorite part was the zoo.

I've been living in the city for the past 30 years or so but my early life was suburban. I never think of myself as a city girl, but I imagine I'd suffer serious withdrawal if I moved away now. My heart is always by the ocean though so my ideal would be a place in the city and a place by the sea. Dream on!

Christine said...

Mary: I love the zoo!! Many picnics and visits to The National during the 9 years I lived in DC. My DD is going there on the 5th. She can't wait. We lived in a suburb of DC, Fairfax, and because our townhouse didn't require a lot of upkeep, we were able to go into the city quite frequently. DD and I would often hop the metro into the city from Vienna and go see a museum exhibit or do a lunch or both. Of course, there is so much to do, we couldn't do it all. I had the best of both worlds when I lived here. I miss the grocery shopping and the restaurants a lot. But Alabama has its fine points and it is a temporary move. We've got one more in us after DH retires.

Talli Roland said...

Sounds brilliant Christine!

I grew up in the country but I live in central London. And although I live to go back to the country for a few days, I wouldn't trade London for anything. I LOVE IT!

Christine said...

Talli: it was brilliant. I can imagine living in London would be so amazing, too. The vibrance of the city lifts me. I love country for a bit, but give me city all the way.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'm with Mary, city and ocean. I like the 'burbs, but also having the city nearby. And DC is great for just the reason you said: You can know the city, and still constantly find something new.

We ate at Kababji just off Dupont Circle last week with a friend and I enjoyed walking through a part of DC where I hadn't spent much time before.

Great descriptions, and you've given me a list of things to check out. I'll look forward to all of your future visits! It was great to see you last week!

Christine said...

Gwen: I love Dupont Circle because it is so close to Embassy Row. I love ocean and city, but DC offers GW Parkway and Potomac River--oh my. You can take the dog walking on Roosevelt Island or to Great Falls! Amazing locations.

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Hey Honey,

I'm a little of both BUT I've been in the country too long of late and need to get back to the BIG CITY for a stay.

BTW...I've got an award for'll look great on your blog!

Enjoyed the post sweetie!

Hugs and Love

Christine said...

Hi Hawk: I'll have to look for it after we get to Princeton, NJ. That's the next leg of our journey before we head back to Alabama. It's been so much fun!!

I love doing things in the country (ahem, like going to Northern Va's beautiful wineries), but I am a city girl through and through. I love the bustle!

Jody Hedlund said...

Wow, Christine!! I want to take you with me when I visit DC! It's always better to be with someone who knows the ins and outs! I find it more frustrating to battle the tourist traps and traffic, which takes the joy out of actually experiencing everything!

Christine said...

Jody, I know what you mean! I have done the "tourist trap" trips as well. NYC I went on the double decker bus and in Paris as well. But it was worth it to get an overview of the city. I've been lucky with a lot of my travels: friends have lead the way for us--makes all the difference in the world.

And if you and I are ever in DC or another city at the same time, it's a date :-)