By Lauren Ehrler, Drew Kaufman, Luke Mueller, Jennifer Pacini, and Lauren Strickfaden
Lost in the city? There’s an app for that. Today, however, we were challenged to use the primitive technology of a map to navigate Washington, D.C. for our first group excursion. Glancing through our list of sights, some were easily recognizable and others seemed a bit obscure. In order prepare for the inauguration, first we had to get familiar with the city… even if that meant a few paper cuts.
One of our first stops was to a monument that has been labeled “the city’s ugliest statue.” Called The Temperance Fountain, locals used this monument more as a skate park and a dumpster than the place of “temperance, charity, faith, and hope” as the statue portrays. Regardless, we enjoyed our visit to this ugly landmark.
We meandered into the Smithsonian’s sculpture garden where we were tempted to stop for a quick ice skate. But we opted for a photo shoot with Alexander Calder’s Red Horse instead. Look for yourself and see how equine you think these beasts are.
The Smithsonian Castle was a short walk across The National Mall. There was an interesting juxtaposition between locals playing a game of football, tourists on Segway tours, and event staff setting up for the inaugural festivities on The Mall. We did our best to look appropriately regal against this backdrop.
Stomachs growling, we decided to stop for lunch near Dupont Circle. We noticed many locals going about their daily lives as we ate. Walking dogs, riding bikes, working on their computers in a café, D.C. is full of people who live and work here every day and aren’t just visiting for the inauguration like we are.
We met Alexis, a local who had a bit of advice for us since she had already been to an inauguration. Alexis said D.C. residents were used to big crowds and most won’t be fazed by the influx of people. While she doesn’t know if she will go to the actual inauguration, she did say she was planning on avoiding driving and riding the Metro. Below is some advice she had for our group:
After lunch, we set off to explore the neighborhood. We really liked the hip vibe of the area and one of their local bookshops, Kramerbooks. We didn’t have much time to browse, but we did flip through a couple books. Here’s the photo an older couple helped us out with.
On our way to our final destination, we stopped for a break in one of D.C.’s finest parks, the Sonny Bono Memorial Park. Although definitely needing some tender love and care, the beat goes on for this very special destination.
Finally, we reached our final stop, the infamous Watergate. Best known for being the hotel that brought down the Nixon presidency, the complex now holds private residences and offices. We snapped the fine photo below outside and just moments later had our first celebrity encounter in D.C. with Ben Stein. However, we were too star struck to photographically document this incident. Instead, we asked pathetically for directions.
Our first day as visitors to D.C. was quite successful. We managed to navigate the city without getting too lost and met a few locals along the way, some a little more well known than others. After a day like today, we look forward to what else D.C. has in store for us.