And a fine vacation it was

Last week my wife and I traveled to Washington DC to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We’ve been to Washington several times over the past few years but my wife was usually attending conferences so she didn’t get to experience much of the history and cultural experiences that make DC such a cool place to visit. This time no one was working and we just ran around town, visiting museums, seeing friends and indulging in good food and a healthy amount of cocktails.

We are fans of the Kimpton hotel chain. Last year in Baltimore we stayed at Hotel Monaco so the Hotel Monaco DC was a natural choice for this trip. Because we were celebrating our anniversary the hotel very very kindly upgraded us to an exceptional suite. The suite was larger than the first apartment my wife and I shared a million years ago. The hotel also gave us a bottle of champagne and the staff was utterly delightful in every way.

We didn’t visit nearly all the monuments and museums I’d hoped to on this trip. I think I’d forgotten how much I like to linger in museums and how much time that takes.

I never studied art history so my knowledge and appreciation for art comes from a place of instinct and feeling instead of one of knowledge and history and technique. By that I mean I’m mostly familiar with the big names that everyone knows: Monet, Cezanne, Rembrant, Picasso, van Gogh, El Greco, Da Vinci, etc but not much more in terms of classical art. In my limited travels I have seen several van Gogh paintings in person and they live up to expectations. And I’ve visited the National Gallery of Art several times so I’ve seen works of many of the masters before. For this visit only the West building of the National Gallery was open. Since trying to cram in both branches wasn’t an option I allowed myself to linger even more than I normally would. With the luxury of time I was able to really spend time with each painting that appealed to me and each painting that I thought should appeal to me. I was able to read the descriptions and printed notes available. It was really lovely.

What I found, after spending all that time, was:

  • impressionism is still my favorite style
  • Monet appeals to me but not as much as I thought
  • I like the Rembrandt school very much but of all the works representing it in the National Gallery I liked Rembrandt’s works least. I really need to educate myself more and expose myself to more works by the Dutch masters. I found them very compelling.
  • I really don’t care for Cezanne
  • I am absolutely enchanted by the works of Pissarro. I’d heard of him, naturally, but hadn’t really experienced his work. Like the Dutch masters I want to learn far more about him and his work. What I saw of his work was the most compelling art I encountered on this visit

Restaurants/Cafes you should check out if visiting DC soon:

  • Dangerously Delicious Pies OMG OMG OMG this place is amazing. The last three photos above are from Dangerously Delicious. We stumbled on it by accident after coming to the neighborhood specifically to visit the Jewish deli Irish pub combo Star and Shamrock.
  • H Street Coffee If you are in the Dangerously Delicious Pies neighborhood this quaint little coffeehouse is just a few doors up. It feels like what coffee shops felt like back when I was in college. Small, homey, plenty of room for you to study or read, stereotypical coffeehouse music playing.
  • Busboys and Poets I lost track of the number of people who recommended this place but all of them were right to do so. We went to the 14th & U Street location. Great diverse and very vegetarian friendly menu.
  • Ted’s Bulletin is home to the housemade pop tarts in the photos above. They were good but I must confess that the sprinkles on them took away some of my joy. I’d much prefer it had been plain or had icing but it was delicious all the same
  • We didn’t actually eat at District Doughnut but it was such a charming shop in such a charming neighborhood I wanted to suggest it. I hope to visit there next time we are in DC.

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