Washington, the Capital City, perfectly manicured, museum city and political epicentre to the max… but if you scratch around it’s also home to great bookshops, art galleries, friendly people and wonderful food. Our trip in December/January 2009/10 allowed us to get most of the tourist stuff out the way and that meant that this time we managed far less but enjoyed it just as much.
Jean Pierre, a friend of my dad, let us stay in his immaculate apartment in NW and right on New York Avenue with views to the Capitol and the Washington Monument. A surreal feeling of “you’ve arrived” fell over us and we almost forgot that we were two backpackers travelling around the world on a shoestring.
After extending our stay by an extra night, because MEGABUS is so organised, we had two full days in the city and were resolved to make the best of it!
There were a few things that we had planned to do, including some of the Smithsonian Museums and also made a turn at the Hirshhorn Museumon the mall.
The gallery, if you are not familiar, is a rotunda with a hollow centre, allowing for three levels with two circular walls open for their exhibits. This provides the best possible space to view Andy Warhol’s Shadows that is on exhibition for the first time in it’s entirety until the end of January next year. My explanation of the gallery makes sense when you see this mega artwork in the flesh. He (Andy) referred to it as one painting, made up of 102 pieces, and it encircles about ¾ of the gallery space, almost 140 meters (that’s the artwork, not the gallery). It is a reproduction of shadows in his studio and is once again reproduced in hand painted and silkscreened images in the bright colours that he is known for. It seems pretty simple at first and then you realise how much work must have gone into producing art of this magnitude. And it just looks pretty cool too!
The Air and Space Museum didn’t disappoint either with a new exhibit (since we were last there) of the Hubble Space Telescope and many of the images that were captured by its deep field imager. Spectacular!
We wandered from Dupont circle, having beers at Afterwords Café in Kramer Books – to Georgetown and the many shops of M Street. We people watched at the front gate of the White House and we sat in the sun at the steps of the Capitol, enjoying the fact that it was still in the plusses and not as unbearably cold as last time! And we ate Mussels and drank South African wine at a beautiful Belgian restaurant with Jean Pierre. He really looked after us and let our travel wary bodies relax a bit.
One more thing worth telling y’all about was a photographic exhibition at the National Geographic Society’s M Street gallery. The photographer, Brian Skerry, is a marine photographer with a career spanning 30+ years. I will let the photos on his website do the talking but if you are in DC soon, make a beeline for 17th Street Northwest and have a look at these unbelievable shots.
Although we did manage to fit quite a lot in, we left DC with a longing to spend some more time there. We would have loved to see the snow, the leaves falling off the trees and the Christmas lights. But New York doesn’t wait for anybody, and Halloween this year is going to be a definite TREAT!