Cherry Blossom, President Spotting, and Me

Oh, Washington D.C.! Why did nobody tell me you were so beautiful?!

The streets are filled with beautiful Victorian houses, painted in pretty pastel shades and topped with lacy gingerbread woodwork and elegant turrets.

The roads are lined with trees, laden with fantastically fragrant cherry blossom. Stately marble columned buildings sit on manicured lawns. Wide rivers provide a stunning vista across to the neighbouring states. Running through the centre is the most amazing surprise; a forest that could be in the middle of the English countryside, dense with greenery and a genuine haven from city life.

I went to Washington for the weekend to visit my dear friend Emily. She took me for walks through gorgeous neighbourhoods, shopping in the very Hampstead-like Georgetown, and to the bookshops in Dupont Circle. We went to see if we could spot the President on the White House balcony. I visited the Lincoln Memorial; something I have wanted to see for years. I had the best french toast and chai tea ever at Teaism, amazingly fluffy blueberry pancakes at Open City, and a delicious jerk chicken and mango salad at Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe. The air was heavy with the scent of cherry blossom, and the sun shone down and gave a beautiful glow to the historic buildings.

Washington was relaxing, balmy and a world away from the hustle and bustle of New York. I felt like I was visiting a small town in Europe, not the seat of the American government. The openness, architectural beauty and semi rural quality of this city left me in raptures. By the end of the weekend, I couldn’t take in any more; it was all just too, too lovely. I’ll be back, soon.

57 comments

  1. You picked a beautiful time of the year to visit! Although if you felt like you were visiting a small town in Europe, you must not have been forced to deal with the traffic!! In any case, I’m glad you had a chance to see D.C. during your stay in the US.

    1. I know! It was so gorgeous, apart from it rained a lot on the Saturday – pictures are of the gloriously sunny Sunday! Oh there was no traffic at all compared to New York!! Thank you – me too. I’ll be going back for definite!

  2. D.C. is one of the few major U.S. cities I’ve never gotten the chance to visit, but it looks absolutely beautiful, not to mention that might be one of the most glowing reviews I’ve ever heard of D.C.!

  3. I live in Houston, Texas, a supersized southern city, and shared your surprise at how delightful DC is, on my last visit there (in November, so also pleasant weather). I didn’t realize how southern DC is, and I loved the combination of the ruralism you noted along with a cosmopolitan city feel. Glad you liked it!

    1. Yes I didn’t realise how southern it was there, and how much more temperate the climate is. It’s a great city and so different in feel from what I am used to – a perfect oasis!

  4. It sounds wonderful! I had to write a school report on it in my younger years (why a Canadian has to do that is only another example of the fact that we were taught to learn about many cultures, not just our own) and it definitely sounded like a beautiful place to visit.

  5. I haven’t been there in years and years but I do remember the cherry trees and the great mall. Then I went into the Smithsonian and didn’t emerge for days.

    1. The cherry trees! So beautiful! I didn’t get a chance to visit any of the Smithsonian buildings this time around but they are top on my list for next time!

  6. My one trip to the US was to Washington DC. I remember sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial marvelling that I was actually there.

  7. As much as I want to meet you next time you are in town, you may want to delay your return until fall. Once things start heating up here in late May it is like a steam bath until September. Things you may not have known about your jaunt around town: 1) John and I had our first date at Teaism. 2) Back in the 1990s during the investigation into President Clinton’s extramarital activities, Kramerbooks successfully fought a subpoena to turn over purchase records for Monica Lewinsky.

    1. Yes my friend told me that! She said the humidity is something else! I will be back soon-ish though as I mainly visit to see her, so we will get to meet! I love your fun facts – and what a great place to have a first date!!

  8. DC is wonderful in the spring. We fell in love with it last year when we went up. So glad you got to go and see some of it. It is definitely an awe-inspiring place.

    1. I think the spring is the most perfect time to visit. It’s just so full of flowers and beautiful smells. I loved it! Awe inspiring is perfect to describe it and I’m so glad you got to experience it in the same way as me.🙂

  9. Oh, Kate, I’m so pleased you loved Washington, D.C. While I have been there, it has never been during cherry blossom time, which is something I have longed to do. You words here make my heart sing.

    While it is terribly hot and steamy, it is fun to visit around the 4th of July. We took the girls when they were old enough to appreciate it and spent the entire day, from sunup to fireworks, in the mall, at Arlington, the National Archives. The girls still remember it, especially being at the Lincoln Memorial and looking to the reflecting pool, seeing the thousands of people enjoying their day.

    You have been so good at sharing your experiences here and your perspective has been so enjoyable to read.

    1. Oh wow, I bet 4th July would be amazing! Though very sweaty! Unfortunately the reflecting pool is drained at the moment, due to maintenance, which I was very upset about – but not a problem – I will be going back and it’s always good to have something left to see!

      Thank you, Penny – it’s been a pleasure to share them with such generous and engaging readers!

  10. Wow, you make me proud to call it home! Teaism is one of my favorite haunts. I just wish you had made it to my favorite bookstore too – Politics and Prose. But there is only so much that fits in one weekend.

    1. You are lucky to have all this at your feet, Frances! I wish they had Teaism in New York!

      I drove past Politics and Prose but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop in. Next time!

  11. I LOVE that first photograph! Washington DC looks like just the sort of place John and I like to wander round. Never mind the White House; that row of houses looks so gorgeous! Thanks, again, for sharing your experiences.🙂

    1. Penny, you would die and go to heaven – all the neighbourhoods I walked through had Victorian architecture to swoon over. I was in awe – and my friend doesn’t live in the nice part even! Glad you enjoyed it!🙂

  12. Yes the cherry blossom there looks ravishing. As I understand, some Japanese contributed many trees located somewhere near the White House. Hagakure – check it out.

    The blossom here is also ravishing R. While frankly I would desert Blighty in an instant if circumstances allowed it – for somewhere sunnier, more optimistic and less fractured – our English Spring is gentle loveliness.

    Colour in the lanes, in the promising greenery and brash bright bushes. Colour in the parks, and our fine and wonderful trees. Colour everywhere, notably in the astonishing pink and reflective white of the cherries.

    1. Oh really? I shall look that up, thank you!

      Oh, I miss the English spring. Spring has never actually arrived here and now it’s just beginning to get sweltering and stormy which makes me suspect the 80 degree heat is about to hit. Brilliant! Nowhere does spring like the English countryside. However, Washington was a very close second! It’s much warmer down there than in New York so their spring was much prettier than the one I’ve had in NY.

  13. I’m glad you saw the Victorian homes, and I hope you saw some of the famous cherry blossoms, both of which I’d rather see than the President any day of the week. (Shame on me, I know.)

    1. Me too, Bellezza – what gorgeous architecture Washington has! Yes – I saw the last dregs of them and they were beautiful – I can’t imagine how spectacular they are in full bloom!🙂

  14. Mm, the pancakes sound good. Whenever anyone says “fluffy” about a baked good, I get super excited. All baked things should be fluffy!

  15. I’ve been to DC many times since my sister lives in nearby Baltimore, but I’ve never been in time to see the cherry blossoms. It sounds like you had a wonderful time! I was visiting after Christmas and I finally got around to the Library of Congress which I just loved. It’s really worth visiting if you get a chance — and don’t miss the free tour which is just great.

    If you like art the National Gallery is there also and it contains a wonderful little French restaurant with a tiny but delicious buffet. I could spend weeks in Washington!

    1. Karen, you have to make a springtime visit soon, because those cherry blossoms are worth the effort, I promise. I really did have a wonderful time but I didn’t manage to do much of the touristy things so I’m looking forward to doing that another time. I’ll definitely make a note of the Library of Congress.

      Oooh the little French restaurant sounds delicious! I will make a beeline!

  16. One of the most wonderful things about a visit to D.C. is that, after you pay for lodgings & food, many of the museums and other attractions are free. We had a wonderful week there a few years ago and loved the fact that much of the area is within walking distance of train stations. Unfortunately, on the last day, we lost our camera with over 200 pictures of our trip–a loss still mourned in our household.

    I always say, if I ever win the lottery, I’ll buy a lovely home in the Mount Vernon area and go into D.C. whenever I wish.

    1. So true! Very different from New York which can easily all add up to a colossal fortune. How sad about the camera – that really is a shame. The same happened to me in South Africa and I felt very badly about it.

      Oh goodness – some of those houses! Beyond belief!

  17. I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit to DC. I think those of us who live here too easily forget what a beautiful city it is. I do love Teaism, but I’ve never been there for breakfast. I’ll have to go and try the French toast sometime. I do hope you get to come back. Perhaps on another visit you can cross the river to Alexandria and see Old Town, which has great shops and a beautiful harbor. (It also happens to be my home, so I’m biased😉 )

    1. Oh Teresa, you have to go and try their french toast, it’s truly scrumptious! I am definitely going to be coming back, hopefully for a bit longer next time. I really want to get over to Virginia. You live in such a beautiful place!

  18. I don’t know how you manage to stay so slim with all of the yummy things you eat along the way! It looks like you had a perfect day for touring around and it’s so nice to see leaves on the trees, we’re still waiting here. I told R you were in Washington and he’s only seen it zipping past while on the highway so we both enjoyed looking at your photos!

    1. I know, I am a one woman eating machine!! I did – the weather was largely lovely and the spring time flowers were wonderful to see after the brownness of New York. Glad you are R enjoyed the photos! I shall take more on my next visit!

  19. It looks like you had a great weekend! I’ve never really properly walked around DC as an adult – I went down for a weekend with my boyfriend a few years ago, but we were staying out in Silver Spring with friends and only really spent a day in the city proper, mostly at the Hirshhorn, which I definitely recommend if you like modern and contemporary art. Other than that I’ve been a few times for work-related trips, which don’t tend to leave much time for sightseeing. But mm, Afterwords! Last year I had a really perfect solo dinner there of an amazing buffalo burger + a glass of good stout, and thinking about it makes me think I might need to try to repeat the experience next week – I’m going for a few days for a conference for work, and DuPont Circle is only a 15-minute walk from where the conference is.

    1. Work related trips are always a bit of a letdown when it comes to sightseeing opportunities, aren’t they? I loved the food at Afterwords and I am jealous you can go back so soon – that burger sound amazing! Have fun!

  20. Lovely photos! My sister used to live in DC (and now lives in Virginia) so I am lucky to have visited there several times. It is a really great city and lots of free museums, too! I have never been able to see the cherry blossoms, so I am envious. But I have been to the wonderful Kramer books! Heaven!

    1. Thank you! You are lucky to get to go so often! You should definitely go over next Spring in time for the cherry blossoms – such a sight! The Kramer bookstore was fantastic – I had a wonderful time browsing and it’s good to see such a well frequented independent bookstore in these days of online shopping!

  21. How beautiful! I’m gagging for a visit – I’ve got more and more excited about visiting the US over the last eight or ten years, managed a very few days in New York and every month I add new things to the list of places to visit/things to do… in the mean time, posts like yours keep me all topped up with pictures and ideas and vicarious experience! Thank you!

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