Let the cricket noises stop! I am back from my (very brief and unprecedented) blogging hiatus and ready to explain myself. On Thursday night Matt went to San Francisco on a boys' weekend to visit his friend Craig (he really likes this friend Craig, as our friends who've joined us at the beach for New Year's for the last two years know all too well). So, as Matt and several of his Northern Virginia buddies crossed the country, my friend Priya came into town and we had our own weekend of fun.
Priya had visited the D.C. area before, so she was happy to skip the usual touristy locales on the National Mall and visit some places she'd never explored. With perfect weather, we made the most of the outdoor offerings of Northern Virginia/D.C. at their finest -- high 70s, sunny and no humidity (we'll enjoy that last part for this ever-so-brief period before the serious stuff kicks in soon).
Here are some highlights:
Old Town Alexandria
Even if you don't care for historic sites, Old Town offers plenty for the modern tourist, including a pretty little waterfront and park as well as the Torpedo Factory -- an art center where artists-in-residence have studios open to the public displaying their creations, and amateur students like myself can take classes. I've taken three classes at the Torpedo Factory through its school, The Art League, which included a drawing class one summer during college, a pottery class I took with my friend Laura about six years ago, and a photography class I took the summer after we got married. Classes are more expensive than what you'd pay through Fairfax County Park Authority or other local organizations, but in my experience the Art League classes are taught by better-trained artists and therefore worth the investment.
After we walked around Old Town, we had an afternoon snack of Asian appetizers at a place that offered outdoor seating. We ate vegetable rolls in our sundresses, and it was delightful.
Jaleo tapas restaurant
I love tapas. Jaleo is one of the two best tapas restaurants in my rotation. A Jose Andres restaurant, Jaleo has three locations in the D.C. area: Crystal City, Bethesda and downtown near Chinatown (across the street from Hotel Monaco) where we dined. We had a shockingly short wait Saturday night of about five minutes, and then we were seated outside to enjoy our patatas bravas and sangria, among other delicious items. I'm on a tapas kick right now, anticipating our summer trip to Spain and Italy.
Just south of the Capitol in D.C., Eastern Market is this awesome Washington institution. I love everything about farmers' markets and craft fairs, and Eastern Market takes both concepts and rolls them into one. The best part is that it's an event you can attend frequently, unlike other craft fairs that come and go. Let me clarify: when I say craft fair, I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill-doily-and-wooden-bear-infested-junk-festival I remember from my childhood. This is a place to find beautiful jewelry, purses (by Elizabeth Designs, my favorite), homemade soaps, wooden cutting boards, and D.C.-inspired paintings and photography. I'd had my eye on the latter for the past year, and I finally decided to make this purchase:
In case you can't tell, this is a collection of four photos of the Jefferson Memorial as viewed from underneath the cherry blossom trees. It's classic D.C., and also the home of the American leader Matt refers to as "our boy" because he founded the University of Virginia, so this art holds some sentimental value too. It represents something I would love to create myself if I had better equipment and time to travel into the city at four perfect moments every year, but something tells me I won't be making it there in the snow. It's by an artist named Xiong Tan. I need to frame it and choose where to hang it among several spots in my house I've been itching to fill with art.
For now, though, I need to head to Michael's craft store before I pick Matt up at the airport. I know Matt won't want to go with me because it's his least favorite place on Earth. Girl time ends in T-minus two hours...