Monday, August 17, 2009

WASHINGTON DC - Day Three: Capitol Hill

Ask a dozen DC inhabitant to name the boundaries of “Capitol Hill” and you’ll get a dozen different answers. It is, for the most part, the downtown portion of our nation’s capitol, but you’ll find the city has many facets. As it’s Saturday for our long weekend model, we’ll stay off The Mall with it’s tourism hot spots, and spend most of our day enjoy the southeast corner of the city, along with a few other fun spots.

You’ll not need your car much if at all, so today’s the day to take public transportation. From wherever you’ve decided to set up “base camp,” (which for today might mean leaving your car at Union Station--see later) get yourself to the “Eastern Market” station on either the Blue or Orange lines. It’ll dump you out right at our first location:

Eastern Market
7th Street & North Carolina Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C.
In operation since 1873, this amazing open-air craft/farmer’s/flea market is a gem. Spend as long as you want wandering up and down the vendors of food, baked goods, flowers, and a whole lotta other goodies.

If for some reason you didn’t find foodstufs to your liking, or you already need to get off your feet for a few minutes, walk a bit down 7th Street.

Marvelous Market
303 7th St SE
Washington, DC 20003

I highly recommend the brownies, as do many others. The open air cafe is nice in good weather, but inside has a warm, neighborhood charm as well. I had a very good salad on my visit. This is an excellent option for grabbing a quick bite as well as a place to sit down and have a long chat.

And chatting is fun, but we’ve more shopping to do, so walk east on Pennsylvania Avenue until you reach 8th street, which boasts a charming collection of shops often called "Barracks Row". There are loads to choose from, but my favorites were:

Sweet Magnolia
703 8th St. SE
Washington, DC 20003


Homebody Housewares
715 8th St SE
Washington, DC 20003

But, I hear you asking, where’s the yarn? You’re getting warmer...Just down the street you’ll find

Stitch DC
731 8th St SE,
Washington, DC 20003

Owner and author of the book The Expectant Knitter, Marie Connolly has operated this sunny, clean-lined store since 2004. It’s a friendly, welcoming space filled with good basics and a strong collection of natural fibers. Marie likes creative, adventurous customers and is happy to guide knitters to their next project or new skill. Her self-described “slightly urban edge” isn’t intimidating, it just makes you want to be as cool as the store looks (a pretty good aspiration, if you ask me). It’s the best kind of store: the type where no one would look at you funny if you sat down with your knitting bag and stayed an hour or two. On a really nice day, you can even install your getting-cooler-every-minute self in the little courtyard and knit alfresco. Or crochet--Marie wanted one of the three suggested projects to be a crochet piece, so you know this a store amiable to “those who wield one needle.”

Here are the projects Marie suggests:

Cable Scarf

What’s more fun than wearing a giant braid around your neck? Especially in a crayon-box color? This hip, humorous scarf is our Knit-Along from Stitch DC, so those of you who remember my history with “giant purple earthworms” will once again see me wrangle seriously chunky yarn. One skein of Cascade Magnum is all you need to wrap your neck in comfy fun. That's Marie modeling the scarf, by the way.

Crocheted Bolero
Done up in delicate yet practical Bluesky cotton, this sweater could grace any number of outfits in style.

First Party Dress
I don't have a photo, but come on...the author of The Expectant Knitter would only offer up something absolutely adorable. This dress, done in touchable Silk Alpaca, is sure to make your little darling (or the darling of someone close to you) the center of attention at her first social debut.

Once you’ve stocked up on your fiber finds, wander back up the other side of 8th Street and catch any stores you missed on your way down. Once you hit Pennsylvania Avenue, turn Northeast and walk down the handful of blocks to the hamburger of your dreams.

Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave SE
(between S 3rd St & S 4th St)
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 543-8222

Some locals might argue that it’s a little pricey, but where else can you get an Obama Burger and a toasted marshmallow shake?? The thing I appreciate most about this place is that the burgers aren’t so enormous that you don’t have room for the all-important milkshake. And if you’re still portion conscious, you can get a “minimoo” smaller size shake (but why would you???). Anyplace that has a mayo bar and offers village fries seasoned with thyme, rosemary and pepper has my loyalty. Marie recommends the Sunnyside Up Burger. If you’re very lucky the guy handing you your burger could be culinary VIP Chef Spike from the Bravo TV show “Top Chef.”

Duly fortified, it’s time to get a little Funky. Wander back down southeast on Pennsylvania to:

Next Stop:
The Remix
645 Pennsylvania Ave SE,
Washington, DC 20003
Tucked away on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue is this great little vintage clothing store. Sure, it’s “problematic” for a six-foot gal like myself to find something to wear at a vintage clothing store, but even if you don’t have a 1940’s waistline you’ll likely find some cool accessories or at least just have fun poking around.

If you’re like me, you need a jolt of caffeine right about now. Thank goodness all you need to do is cross the street to:

Peregrine Espresso
660 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC
(202) 629-4381

Locals agree these guys know their java, and their latte art is rumored second to none. There’s a reason why seating can be a challenge to find. Should you be of the tea persuasion, my sources tell me they do that as well (how on earth would I know?). The humor of the pear-decorations, based on the name, made me smile.

To finish up your day, find your way--either by a series of metro trains or taxi--to our final stop of the day:

Union Station
50 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002

With over 100 places to shop, eat, and drink, you’ll find loads of ways to pass what’s left of your day. Check on line before you head out today, because the website has a variety of discount coupons. An historic building that’s gotten one of the most successful facelifts in retail history, the space boasts Seventy pounds of 22-karat gold leaf on it’s amazing ceiling.

Wander on back to your lodgings, laden with fiber and cool shopping treasures, to rest up for tomorrow’s adventures, where we’ll take in a little more of this city.

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