This year, I skipped any notions of a traditional birthday party and opted for an adventure instead. A tour of my beloved city, a bucket list of epic proportions. It had the most fun I can remember in ages. We called it my #BaeDay.
7:30 AM: We fuel up at The Wydown
9:00 AM: We are tourists in our hometown
9:45 AM: I cry at the WWII memorial
Our guide tells us about Kilroy Was Here and shares the one hidden at the otherwise somber memorial. She tells us about the two wreaths laid on every state in the memorial—one oat and one wheat—to represent our agricultural and industrial might. We learn that when you see water at war memorials, it is meant to simulate the deafening and chaotic sounds of war. Once you know this, you cannot hear anything else.
10:30 AM: We find Albert
“Joy and amazement at the beauty and grandeur of this world of which man can just form a faint notion …” We cut away from the tour to find Albert Einstein at the National Academic of Sciences.
11:30 AM: I meet Eleanor.
How do we take for granted that we had such a BAMF so close to the White House? This statue of Eleanor Roosevelt is the only one in the entire city that features a First Lady.
12:00 PM: I meet the man, the myth, the legend
I’ve always loved the story behind the creation of the Jefferson Monument—that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt nudged Franklin, a long-time admirer of Jefferson, to erect a memorial in his honor. The White House has a direct view of the Jefferson Memorial and is said to serve as inspiration to each sitting president.
12:30 PM: We walk the Tidal Basin
I’ve seen the cherry blossoms many times, but had never quite found my way across the tidal basin to the statues and monuments on the other side. We grabbed bikes and made our way to Ohio Drive.
1:00 PM: We dine.
As the oldest operating fish marketing in the United States, you will likely smell the Maine Avenue Fish Market before you see it. Most of the stalls boast freshly caught fish, crabs and shrimp, just two stalls have cooked food. We opted to try the fried catfish and crab cakes (served on white bread, of course).
2:00 PM: We try to meet Lady T.
I had heard for years how breathtaking it was so see the T-Rex at the Smithsonian Museum of National History, so I was pretty disappointed to learn that this popular lady was on tour. We opted to visit her miniature replica instead, wriggling past tiny humans and finding ourselves suddenly grateful to have a good 3 feet over most of the other guests.
2:30 PM: We discover David is the Butterfly Whisperer
I’m pretty sure that David would have loved to opt-out of this improptu #BaeDay request, but there are no free passes on this ride. We wait 20 minutes to get into the butterfly exhibit, a sweltering greenhouse featuring every native butterfly imaginable. They seem to flock to David, because every time I turn around he has one on his head, his shirt, and even one that stealthily made its way into his backpack and followed us out of the museum! Don’t worry, we made sure it got back safely.
3:30 PM: We drink
I’d heard tales about the glorious view at the W. Hotel, so, despite our tourist garb and general sweatiness, we make our way to the top for a drink.
4:30 PM: We nap.
5:30 PM: We eat.
I hadn’t exactly been saving Lupo Verde for a special occasion, it just so happened that every time we tried to eat there, our plans were canceled for some reason or other. I added it to my list, imagining pasta for days. We started with a charcuterie platter, along with a number of cheeses, and also a watermelon and tomato salad. They were delightful—the perfect summer dishes. We then ordered pasta dishes and all put rubbed our hands together in anticipation. To say that what arrived was disappointing would be an understatement. David’s tagliatelle was small, but flavorful; he finished it in a few bites. My pasta dish—a simple one with pasta and cheese—arrived like day-old, gelatinous leftovers. I literally lifted the whole mound of pasta off the plate with only my fork. I tried to eat it friends, I did, but no amount of red pepper flakes was going to do it. I asked the waiter for the menu so I could reorder and felt completely shamed. It’s supposed to be a simple dish, he implored. Yes, I said, but it’s also supposed to have a flavor. The second dish wasn’t much better, honestly. Equally bland and uninspired. We opted to move on to dessert and what came out was the most luxurious tiramisu I’ve ever enjoyed. Sounds like we’ll be back for dessert and drinks.
8:30 PM: We clap.
I’m not sure many people know that I was briefly a DJ at a college radio station. Jazz was my rotation. Our final stop at Columbia Station was everything I need to float home, completely happy that this is 31.