Day 6 in DC: Last Hurrahs

This is the penultimate DC post. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to finish documenting the trip…

While I had in mind that we would visit one farmers’ market while in DC, we were lucky to have had the opportunity to visit two, stumbling upon the Foggy Bottom FRESHFARM market earlier in the week. The destination market, on the other hand, was found via a Yelp recommendation – Eastern Market was billed as one of the liveliest, and with a Metro stop named after it, getting there was just a subway ride away.

Eastern Market

Eastern Market can claim the distinction of being the oldest continually operated market in the DC area. The grounds hosted a mix of vendors – from “flea market” classified tables and arts and crafts, to ready-to-eat items and fresh produce, it was a great place to shop for both tourists and locals. An indoor facility also housed select vendors year-round, with everything from poultry to cheese to vegetables available. Unlike the FRESHFARM markets (similar to the Calgary Farmers’ Market), there appeared to be no restriction on imported products, as we saw items like bananas and pineapples on sale.

More outdoor vendors

Mack at Eastern Market

We found that the vendors as a whole were more aggressive, bordering on carney-style as they invited timid consumers to step forward to taste samples. Because of this, we ended up buying a bag of fair trade Honduran coffee and two fresh peaches (the latter of which we ate at the airport – they were so unbelievably ripe we had peach juice running down our chins).

Peaches!

We also picked up a few unique souvenirs – a necklace for me (it reminded me somewhat of the jewellery available at The Plaid Giraffe) and a Val Proudkii print for Mack. The print was actually one we had seen earlier in the week at the Newseum, which had won an award in the “amateur” photography category for the 2009 inauguration. When we asked the vendor whether or not it was he himself who had taken the shot, his reply was so nonchalant that we supposed he was probably tired from the exposure of that one photo.

A visit to Eastern Market also extends to the area around it – the surrounding streets were lined with charming bistros and cafes, the sidewalks brimming with patio seating. Dozens of tourists and locals alike were revelling on that beautiful Saturday morning, enjoying a meal outdoors, or, waiting in line for blueberry pancakes at the venerable Market Lunch. While we had a brunch appointment elsewhere, we couldn’t resist picking up an iced coffee at Port City Java. It was one of the best cold coffees I have ever had – I think the combination of the sweet shot of vanilla and inclusion of shaved ice elevated the drink.

We hopped back on the Metro to get to Dupont Circle. It could have been known as another kind of Circle because when we arrived at the foot of the escalator, we found that it was out of order. I’m not sure what implored us to take the stairs instead of searching for an elevator, but once we started heading up, we couldn’t stop.

Stairway to…

Out of breath at the top (ironically, there was a Krispy Kreme positioned to the left of the escalators), the moment of unspoken camaraderie we had with fellow commuters who had also braved the stairs was undeniable.

After we recovered, we found there was a Golden Triangle Ambassador positioned to help lost tourists navigate the district. Businesses in the area had banded together under an umbrella group in an effort to promote visits to a section of the city without any national memorials and museums, or the inherent urban chic of neighbourhoods like Georgetown. The guide was able to provide us with a map, and quickly pointed out how we would navigate ourselves to Tabard Inn.

Full, we headed back in the direction of the Metro. En route, we came upon a drum troupe that had set up shop in Dupont Circle park. The impromptu concert was amazing, with listeners dancing alongside the performers, the entire area electric with the infectious beat of the drums. It was one of the coolest things we saw in DC.

Drummers

After being confronted with the $60 cab fee into the city, Mack and I were resolute we would use public transportation on the way back to the airport. It seemed simple enough – a bus picked up travelers from an easily accessible Metro stop. When we arrived, we found the bus had already begun loading passengers. We dutifully joined the line, but with our luck, were turned away by the bus driver, who stated that the vehicle was full. Of course, as the bus drove away, it was obvious to us that passengers at the rear of the vehicle had stacked their luggage on the seats – and the next bus was an hour away.

We contemplated sharing a cab with another errant traveler, but if the next bus did arrive on time, we would just make our check-in window. We settled in at the McDonald’s across the street to escape the melting humidity, and eventually boarded a bus that did take us to the airport on time. Whew.

While DC doesn’t changeover as often as, say, New York, the city continues its efforts to celebrate its heritage and memorialize groundbreaking figures in American history. For example, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is in the works, while the African American Museum will begin construction in 2015.

My DC “top five”, in no particular order, are as follows:

  • Washington Monument
  • DC by Foot tour
  • Farmers’ markets (Foggy Bottom and Eastern Market)
  • Proof
  • Paddleboating on Tidal Basin

Mack’s DC “top five”, in no particular order, are as follows:

  • Washington Monument
  • Founding Farmers
  • Newseum
  • Metro
  • Lincoln Memorial

With the rest of the world still waiting to be seen, I am not sure we will be back anytime soon, but we had a great time. Thanks, DC!

You can read Mack’s Day 6 post here, and see our complete DC photoset here.

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