Georgetown was one of the first things on Tiara’s “stuff to do before I move” list. She’d only been there twice. Both times it rained.
So today, without umbrellas or plan, we headed up to Georgetown just to walk, take a few pictures, and soak up the atmosphere in this neighborhood that predates D.C. I love it here. It’s crowded along the main streets of Wisconsin and M, but not uncomfortable crowded… it’s that fun, kitchy, life is happening sort of crowded that you can smile and be a part of. Shop, eat, tuck into an old market and grab something unique… It’s one of those little areas that just feels good to be in. And then, when you’re tired, you can hop off the main drag and find yourself in the quiet sea of beautiful old homes, well sculpted yards, and old trees in full bloom for us today. It’s artsy and regal and elegant. Diplomats live here and others – I’d love to know who. Nannies walk by with well clad babies. Little signs on gates are marked, “service entrance.” Today, gardeners and painters, construction workers and housemaids all scurried about. It was busier than normal. Spring cleaning time.
But… I’m getting ahead of myself. The Cathedral was first. It sits just north of Georgetown by a few blocks. Tiara hadn’t seen it yet and I’d read that it was a great place to view the cherry blossoms, so we thought we’d park, run around the cathedral, and get back to our car within the 30 minutes of free parking. It was a good goal.
There are no cherry trees in front of the cathedral. Just sayin’. I don’t remember who wrote that web article (you can’t believe everything you read on the internet – except here – I won’t lie to ya), perhaps in the year since it was written, all the glorious cherry trees were taken out (doubtful), but the grove of fluffy pink is not here. A crowd of school children were there, craning their necks and snapping pictures. I took a couple… but no pink. We moved on… happy to see the cathedral and stay on schedule.
But there’s the garden. Ugh. And it’s beautiful. And pink.
Ok, so there’s one cherry blossom tree – a gorgeous weeping cherry (my favorite), framing the cathedral so nicely from the old gardens to the right. We walked through the arched stone doorway and walked along the paths. The herbs weren’t quite ready, but the flowers were blooming – tulips, a few unknown, and that cherry.
We would have made the 30 minute deadline, if it weren’t for the old garden and my need to wait until every school child had walked out of my photograph.
The cathedral isn’t finished. At one end a worker stood on the 4th level of scaffolding singing beautifully in Spanish while grabbing materials being sent up by puly. They were working on a flying buttress – a flying buttress! It sort of blows me away that in 2014 they’re making one of those. After seeing so many frightfully old cathedrals in Europe, seeing the progression of one here seems to complete the story.
This cathedral embraces so much – not only religion, but history and place. Kneelers depict famous Americans, a piece of the moon is mounted into one of the stained glass windows, and even the carvings atop the new white columns offer an eclectic mix of images. Here we saw cats, mice, birds, squirrels, and wolves pulling sleds.
We finished our circle and garden detour in 33 minutes. Sans camera and school children, it would have taken 10. On to Georgetown proper.
If you’re willing to pay, there is no limit to the plethora of parking garages in Georgetown, but today one was full and the next, not having put out a “full” sign, forced a very awkward turn around inside its ill-sized entry under the watchful eye of the rude attendant. Thankfully, I got great street parking (cheaper too) right next to Baked and Wired, my new favorite Georgetown coffee shop.
Tiara and I didn’t have a plan. You don’t need one in Georgetown. The busy streets are packed with cute shops and great restaurants and chocolate shops. The side streets offer fun things to photograph. We chose to start our day along the canal, sadly empty, full of trash, and not the pretty walk I’d hoped for past the first block.
Since this was on Tiara’s list, I refused to make a decision on food. Pizza? Hamburgers? Tapas? Coffee and pie at Pie Sisters? We walked down M, looked at menus, asked a local who recommended Paul’s (a chain – been there, done that), then giggled at the site of three park police “parked” outside Georgetown Cupcake, one coming out, mounting his horse, then passing the little bag of cupcakes to his coworker, devouring them on horseback before leaving. (The policeman on the right did not have a cupcake – perhaps he likes the ones at Sprinkles better – we do!)
We turned up Wisconsin, stopping in a couple shops on the way, still uncertain where to eat, and then saw Paolo’s. It fit the bill. Patio seating, large open windows, a sense of style, and Italian – looked good and prices were fair for lunch.
We chose to sit at a tiny table for two in front of two large open windows where we were just inches from the sidewalk, able to reach out and scare passers by if we were feeling particularly wicked, or they could have reached in a grabbed a slice if they were. It was cold, so we both shivered, but were to stubborn to move and the location provided the perfect place to people watch.
The waiter brought warm breadsticks with some sort of olive tapenade that I could have eaten a bowl of. So good. The glitch was that he came by when we were nearly done (but clearly not done) and whisked it away before our meal was even ready and without even asking if we were done (again, we were not). That irked me a bit. Tiara gave me the stern, “Mom, don’t make a scene” look – like I’d ever make a scene. Hmph.
That aside — Love the food. I was nearly tempted to go and find the chef and tell him that (if it wasn’t for my irritation with my waiter who also severely overcharged me for the wrong wine he brought). Our chicken pizza was divine with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and fresh Parmesan. The Caesar salad came beautifully presented and flavorful with more generous shavings of cheese. We like cheese. Oh, I’ll go back – for take-out – no waiter.
Tiara wanted to check out a cute little boutique she saw as we drove down. They were having a sale, so the table in front was set with colorful macaroons. We didn’t try one, nor did we buy. The first tag I flipped told me I was out of my league here – even the ugly clothes were marked at $350 and up. No, thank you. I felt at home in Massimo Dutti, a store I loved in Spain that I haven’t seen in the states until now. It’s more expensive here which was sad. I miss the rebajas in Spain where I could feel like a princesa and dress like a local.
It’s still nice to walk. This is the first time that T’s seen Georgetown in the sun. It looks good against blue.
And the tulip trees are blooming quite profusely in this area which is nice – a dose of pink against a red door. I like it.
Below this window sits a tiny little gelato place – perhaps Argentinian? I only remember that it was from a South American country which surprised me as gelato, to me, is Italian. Helado, sí, pero gelato? Wrong language. Though it looked delicious, the prices reflected that of the boutique. $5 for a thimble-sized scoop (pretty close, really), no thank you.
I giggled at the name…yes, it’s French. I get it. I just find that some things don’t sound quite as nice when read in an English frame of mind.
Tired of the bustle and $$$ of Georgetown’s main streets, it was time to wander among the houses and dream. Out of my budget, yes, but the gardens and architectural details are still inspiring.
A diplomat was pulling out of this driveway… diplomatic license plates. I had those once (in Spain). Sort of strange to see this end of it. I never felt that my neighborhood or home was really this posh, but I suppose, for the region that I lived in, it really was. I’ve been privileged to have a really interesting life. (God is good.)
This home below is one of several that had tulip and/or daffodil bulbs covering what would normally be a lawn. I’m not sure what it all looks like in the winter months, but when it blooms, it’s stunning.And this final photo provides proof that money doesn’t buy good taste. Got to “hand” it to ’em. They really know how to impress the neighbors.
So my new favorite Georgetown coffee shop? Baked and Wired. Gotta love the name that suits the style of this place so well. The truly irritating/wierd thing is that they have a wall dividing the front part of the shop in half. The pastry line is on one side, the coffee on the other. So if you want both, you have to stand in two lines. Irritating. The lines were LONG too, so get the pastry first because by the time you stand in line, the coffee would be cold (our heated pastry was).
The good was the flavor. Any ounce of irritation fell away when we took that first sip and first bite. They brew Stumptown coffee (from Oregon, my home, so happy). Amazing. Our Chai lattes could not have been better. It’s rare when someone gets it this right – not too strong, nor too sweet, nor spicy. A soft mix of the three, perfectly balanced. I instantly regretted getting a small no matter what the price. The next regret was the pie. We only got one. One amazingly delicious blueberry peach hand pie. Perfectly cooked, delicious crust, do not share. Just too good.
And that was it. Good food, a nice walk, a few photo ops, and coffee. That’s my kind of day.
Details below… should you crave pizza and pies. ;)Paolo’s Ristorante 1303 Wisconsin Avenue NW Washington D.C. 20007 202-333-7353
1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington, DC 20007