What’s there to like about DC?
Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Now that I'm assigned to a year of language training, it’s time to settle in. I live in North Virginia, within the DC Metropolitan Area, and I have to admit that loving it here does not come easy to me.
My Sob Story
While I love being in the United States between tours, living in DC somehow presents formidable challenges.
The first time I moved there, in 2010, was the year of “Snowmaggedon” and the "Snowpocalypse." This sounds more dramatic than it was, but we were snowed in for weeks at a time and watched with horror (on TV) how the snow inflicted major problems around the area such as houses burning to the ground.
The second time I lived in DC, in 2013, was only for a few months. Unfortunately it was an extremely hot summer and I was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. I could barely go outside because of the suffocating heat.
The third time in DC almost worked out. I was going to stay for an entire year. But—lo and behold—I was put on bed rest due to pregnancy complications and was thus unable to explore much of the town or the beautiful nature surrounding it.
Biking to work
THIS time around, anno 2019, I want things to be different. I'm planning to finally see and appreciate this place. I bought a new bicycle so I can ride the tree-lined Old Dominion Trail to work. Never mind that I lost both keys to my theft-proof lock already—it’s going to be great! I also bought the fanciest child seat I could find so my 2-yo daughter can enjoy the rides too (once I find a locksmith to put me out of my misery).
I’m also taking every opportunity to get out of town. Not wasting any time before the summer ran out I already went hiking in Harpers Ferry, tubing down the Shenandoah River, salsa dancing in Rockville, Hookah smoking in Falls Church, shopping in Tysons Corner, and Korean BBQ and karaoke singing in Annandale. There are also several wineries in Virginia that require my presence soonest. Annapolis is another favorite, as is the Aquarium in Baltimore.
Once Fall hits, I'll take the kids to some of the awesome pumpkin patches in Maryland and Virigina; we might go picking apples in nearby orchards; and we'll definitely be visiting the many lush green parks—and hitting up those fancy playgrounds in Arlington and Falls Church.
Not that there is nothing to do inside DC itself, of course. Here are some of my favorites:
Running at the Mall has always been one of my favorite activities—especially when followed by brunch on Capitol Hill.
Hiking in Rock Creek Park is the perfect city-getaway. You can do an uninterrupted 9-mile hike in the shade!
Discovering new hangouts for drinks and food is always an option in DC, but I'll also be sure to visit to Poets & Busboys for some coffee and book shopping, eat crab at the Old Ebbit Grill next to the White House, and go to some of the great restaurants on 14th Street (Le Diplomate being one of them!).
Grabbing the chance to go to at least of handful of DC's wonderful theaters, including seeing low-key plays at 4615 Theater, whatever is playing at the Shakespeare Theater, and seeing bigger productions at the Kennedy Center (or the weekly free shows when cash is running low).
Ice-skating rinks! Once a Dutch person, always a Dutch person.
Enjoying DC shouldn't be hard. Even more so because diplomats in language training—for reasons that still elude me—are not allowed to take any days off for vacation. Without anything besides a long weekend I’ll be taking German language lessons every day until I pass the dreaded language test some time in May 2020.
It’s going to be a long year, but I plan to make it a good one!