Miss B Goes To Washington DC

In honour of American Independence Day (hello to all my readers across the pond! I hope your 4th of July is filled with sparklers, sunshine, good company and merriment), I thought I’d share some photos from my trip to Washington last August. My love for this place knows no bounds; I spent a ridiculously happy few months there working on Capitol Hill in the winter of 2002-3.

The 4th of July is to me, like America’s own fight for independence, a celebration of freedom, of the power of human will, of the importance of choosing our own path and fighting to achieve that which we set out to accomplish. Going to Washington was my personal Independence Day; I fought hard for the opportunity and worked incredibly hard when I was there, but it was also my first independent ‘grown-up’ adventure, something that was all mine, and the very first moment I had clarity and realised what I wanted to do with my career. More than that, it was incredible to be living on ‘the inside’ of a place that was both so embedded in incredible history (oh, the things that have happened in Washington!), but which is also the epicentre of power today – a privilege which was never lost on me. Though several years have passed since then, I will always treasure how significant Washington was to me.

So here are a few of my favourite Washingtonian things:

  • Walking the corridors of the US Capitol building – a place of such monumental historical significance that I would get goosebumps exploring the out-of-bounds ancient staircases between the chambers on my lunch breaks, marvelling at the people who walked there before me;
  • Pondering freedom and civil rights at the moving Lincoln Memorial;
  • The postcard-perfect view from the Lincoln Memorial, across the reflecting pool – the sight of many a great moments in 20th Century American history – to the looming Washington Monument and then up the Mall to the Capitol Building;
  • The lofty neoclassical architecture influences which, significantly, dominate the city’s great landmarks and government buildings (the Founding Fathers looked towards the ancient Greek and Roman liberal democracies for inspiration, evidenced in the Capitol’s architecture);
  • Walks past the White House (a pretty hard view to beat – and a symbol of the pinnacle an individual can reach if they dare to dream Pennsylvania Avenue-big);
  • The worlds best red velvet cupcakes (I sampled a lot!) and the lipstick red sight of Ben’s Chili Bowl (a Washington institution);
  • Strolling the beautiful tree-lined streets of Georgetown – rummaging for treasure in tiny boutiques, book shops and antique stores and imagining the society parties that go on behind those closed doors;
  • The fact that Washington is probably the only place in the world where politics is so cool, it’s obligatory even at Starbucks (political geeks like me rejoice!);
  • The incredible Smithsonian institutions along the Mall – seeing the original Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, documents I’d studied endlessly at university, in the National Archives gave me goosebumps!

(not pictured) day trips to the picture-perfect Old Town Alexandria; the city’s fantastic jazz and wine bars, the Capitol Hill flea market on weekends (filled with delicious food, vintage jewels, and antique maps to rummage through); the pandas at the National Zoo; people watching and eavesdropping (one never knows which diplomat or world leader they might find themselves at an adjacent table to in this city) at old wood-panelled bistros and bars.

Do you have a place that you hold special for marking a significant turning point in your own life? I’d love to hear about it!

Love, Miss B xx

17 thoughts on “Miss B Goes To Washington DC

  1. Working in Washington in 2002? Is child labor allowed in D.C.? 😉 Anyway, great post, I can totally feel your enthusiasm for this city. We saw so much of it in movies and tv series, sometimes we forget it is real and magnificent.

    • Haha! At risk of crushing any age-related mystery, I turned 19 while I was working there – so just avoided any child labour lawsuits 😉

      But you’re right, we see it so often in movies, that being a part of it was strangely surreal, but entirely wonderful!

      B xx

  2. Great post.

    Who would have connected you — Ms. Stylish?– with D.C., land of nude hose and sensible pumps? I love the Sackler and Freer museums and Tryst, my favorite cafe, and Old Ebbitt’s Grill and the Philips Collection and the Hirschorn. I found the Senate building really beautiful…and have been inside (!) the Oval Office, thanks to the sweetie who covered three Presidents while a member of the White House Press Corps. I agree, DC fairly vibrates with power.

    My life-changing city was Paris when I was 25 and chosen as one of 28 journos from 19 nations (Togo, Japan, Ireland, Brazil,) for an 8-month journalism fellowship based there. I’ve dedicated two of my books to the founder of the program, the late, amazing Philippe Viannay, whose vision changed my life and many others.

    • Oh, I love this comment – what a wonderful story about Paris and your book (this place is so special to me too). And ’tis true – Washington is the land of the corporate suit! But thankfully there is a fantastic fashion scene beginning to emerge there – the thinking woman’s couture, if you will 😉 And love Old Ebbitt’s Grill and the fact I got to work in the magnificent Russell Senate Building (sadly not the Oval Office).

      B xx

  3. Gorgeous as always, makes me miss DC even more!
    Can’t believe it is nearly a year ago I was off on my DC adventure, my heart aches for it everyday!

    • I know what you mean (I often long for my time there – it really is a special experience to get to be a part of it). But as they say, just be happy you had the experience, however fleeting it was.

      B xx

  4. Really nice photos. I´ve been to Washingotn, but it was years ago, as I remembere it it was a bit boring but I´m sure it´s great for the 4th of July celebrations.

  5. I’d love to visit Washingotn DC at some point – even more after reading this post. I love America and find the history so interesting. So far I’ve only managed to get to New York though.

  6. Loved this post B! I was intrigued by your adventures when you told me all about them last weekend so to see the images to go with is such a treat! Love Washington – I went there many years ago and thought it was so beautiful. In fact I just love the USA and am sure I am actually American! xxx

  7. Ironically I’m a student from DC who just finished her semester abroad in London 🙂 Two fantastic, yet vastly different cities. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to visit again someday!

    • I didn’t manage to go back until last August, but it was just as wonderful as I’d remembered. Hopefully it’s a city I’ll get to visit often in my life (if not work there again). And hope you’ve had a wonderful semester in London!

      B xx

  8. Love your blog. Though I studied US politics at uni and have watched the West Wing all the way through 3 times, have only ever spent 1 paltry night in Washington. Where would you recommend if you only had a weekend? Would love to go back

    • Thank you so much! And as a fellow West Wing obsessive, welcome!

      If I had just a weekend in DC I would: get up early to start with all the sights before the crowds hit: begin at the Capitol building, walk up the Mall to stop at the best Smithsonian’s along the way (all are free, so doesn’t matter if you race through them) – I’d go to the Natural History, American History and National Archives. Then to the Washington Monument (if queues are small, take a ride to the top for great views – if not, not worth the wait), then walk up the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Walk over to the White House for the obligatory photo op. Then dinner and pottering around the cute shops/strolling the pretty streets in Georgetown. Then begin Sunday with brunch and a rummage at the Capitol Hill flea market, then take the train to Old Town Alexandria. Pretty fantastic weekend if you ask me! Hope that helps

      B xx

      • Oh that’s wonderful thank you – made it to the American history museum before but not much else. It was 2002, so much was closed due to security concerns.

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