Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tightening the Beltway - Balt/DC/Silver Spring

DB~ was warning me for a couple of weeks to keep June 4-6 free, as we were taking a short trip within driving distance of Pittsburgh. As with most things in our relationship, there is always the air of mystery, so I didn't know until 2 days before the trip where we were going.

She had to present at Discovery on Saturday in Silver Spring, MD, so on Friday night she scheduled a side trip to see the Orioles play the Red Sox at Camden Yards. She also invited my cousin and his family (wife and 2 kids) to join us. Very cool, DB~!

The Orioles suck as much, if not more, than the Pirates, but Camden Yards is still looking good after 18 years. This park was the jump-off point for all the retro parks that came after it in the 90's through to today. The warehouse in the right-center field can't be beat by many other backdrops (of course PNC Park's is nicer!).

I sampled Boog's BBQ, of course, and chose the pork. DB~ went with the crab cake sandwich. Not a soft shell crab sandwich. :)

The next day I was on my own for most of the day, as she was in her seminar from 8 am to 2 pm. I got up with her and hit the surprisingly diverse town of Silver Spring at 8 am. The best way to explore a city is to geocache it. I found some very interesting and challenging little caches, including one at a memorial sculpture to a homeless man that was a local "character" in Silver Spring before his death.

I passed by a Greek restaurant, a Peruvian/Salvadorian restaurant, a Jamaican restaurant (one love, Tony), 3 (!!) Ethiopian restaurants, a Lebanese restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, and a Mexican restaurant all within a half-mile of each other. I never knew going into this trip how diverse it would be...I thought it would be a white-bread suburb of DC and Baltimore.

For lunch, I had the pleasure of meeting an "internet friend" face to face for the first time. It's always weird to hear a person talk after you've read their "voice" for many years. It was a very enjoyable experience and hopefully we can get together if he comes to Pittsburgh this summer.

Silver Spring is in the midst of a renaissance and growth spurt thanks to Discovery relocating its headquarters here in 2003 and being on the red line for the DC Metro. The downtown area of Silver Spring is sort of re-building radially around Discovery's headquarters. Discovery brought jobs and the rail line enables service workers and high-end workers alike to commute easily to DC (22 minutes) The Ellsworth Street area is home to many restaurants and stores designed to bring people to the area and stay for the better part of the day. A fantastic farmer's market with probably 20 vendors, at least, was in play on Saturday from 9 am to 12 noon. There were many artisan breads and cheeses, organic produce, and wild game vendors displaying their wares. Even though we had a fridge in the hotel room, I didn't buy anything to bring home...a decision I regret now.

Much like Montreal's Metro, we found the DC Metro very easy to pick up and safe to ride. Strangely, the downtown stops (at least on the red line) had VERY dimly lit stations. If I were a single girl, I would find it to be a little edgy. It was shockingly dark in these stations.

On Saturday night, we took the red line into DC and did a crash course in monument hunting and sight seeing. We checked out Ford's Theatre, which I thought was only fair considering how many times I use the phrase "....other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" in conversation. It was disgustingly hot and humid, high 80's for each at least, so we struggled to walk to see the White House, the under-renovation Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and get halfway to the Washington Monument.

DC is like an outdoor museum with a pulse. You can't help but get caught up in some measure of patriotic spirit as you walk the streets. It gave me pause to think that Lincoln, Washington, Adams, Roosevelt, and many, many other great men walked the same paths as we did that night. I tried to envision how different things were here 200, 100, 50, and sadly even 10 years ago. Parts of DC are just off-limits to pedestrians and vehicles nowadays.

By the time we did our mini self-guided tour, it was nearly 8:30. We were both tired and very hot, so we sort of picked the first good place we found, which was an Italian place called Finemondo.
DB~ had perhaps the finest ravioli either of us has ever had. It was a butternut squash ravioli with amaretto in it, topped with a sage butter sauce. The amaretto was just the perfect compliment to the earthy butternut taste.

I had the spinach and cheese ravioli, with mine in a basil cream sauce. On any other night, it would have been fantastic. I helped clean off DB~'s plate, for sure.

It was a jam packed weekend and there were many things we would love to go back and do, but it was a fantastic sampler of our nation's capital and sister city, Baltimore (my second home with all my mom's side of family there).

No comments:

Post a Comment