Walk to D.C downtown

Walk to Washington D.C downtown

On Connecticut Avenue. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

I enjoyed myself so much during the first trip to Washington D.C last weekend. I didn’t plan to tour D.C because I went there for my profile story. Until I got there at over 7:30 p.m. Saturday, I was still unsure if I’d have a chance to meet my two fellow Fulbrighters. Though my time in Washington D.C was just about 20 hours, I had a great time there, especially Sunday morning.

I’m grateful to my subject and my two Vietnamese friends for bringing me there, hosting me and showing me the United States’ capital. I promised myself that I would return to D.C at least once.

Van Ness UDC Station

I slept in until 8 a.m. Sunday, feeling quite refreshed after a long trip from Boston early Saturday morning. I had an appointment with my Vietnamese fellow at 10.00 a.m at Dupont Circle Metro Station. I wanted to take a cab there because I didn’t want him, who is reportedly a punctual person, to await me. Another friend, who host me on Saturday night, said it takes just 10-15 minutes to go by taxi to that station. Perfect, I would have more time for emails and packing.

When I texted my friend, saying I would go by taxi, he recommended to use the train which is cheaper and not time-consuming. I said that with that way, I might come late.

To make sure that I would have a smooth trip by walk and train, my host jotted down a detailed guide on my notebook. She said from the Van Ness UDC station, it would take me only 15 minutes to walk to the nearest station and from there three more stops to Dupont Circle Station.

I said goodbye to my host, her parents and her kids around 9:45, walking on the Connecticut Avenue  to 4301 Connecticut Avenue. It seemed to me that Connecticut Ave is the longest street in D.C. Saturday, when I was approaching to D.C, noticing the street signs named Connecticut and Georgia, my subject said there are 51 streets in D.C named after America’s 51 states. I found that very interesting.

Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

I arrived at the Van Ness UDC Station after about 15 minutes. What surprised me was the so-high escalator to the underground station. That escalator reminded me of the one at Porter Square Station in Cambridge where I prefer to walk step by step instead of standing on one side. I did the other way around with the Van Ness UDC station escalator whose height dizzied me.

Van Ness UDC Station on Connecticut Avenue. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

Remembering what my host said, I stopped by the automatic ticket booth, buying a one-way ticket of $1.80 plus a printing fee of $1. The ticket alone is $0.20 cheaper than the one in Boston but the total isn’t because the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) never charges the printing fee.

I like to see the arrival and departure time at the metro station. In Boston, I see only the Red Line does the same. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

After having a ticket in my hand, I was confused a bit about which train I should board.

“Excuse me sir, I would like to go to Dupont Station, which train I should take?” – I asked a  station policeman standing a few steps away.

“It’s the train on the right.”

“Thank you.”

A moment later, a train was arriving, I was about to get on it.

“No, not this train, the next train. The train I will board.”

The train platform isn’t well lit but I like that way, which helps save a lot of power. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

It’s the Red Line but the train isn’t red. In Boston, the Red Line is red, the Green Line is green, the Blue Line is blue and the Orange line is orange. The seat setting is also different from the one on the Boston Red Line. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

Next to my seat on the train are emergency evacuation instructions. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

The platform at Dupont Circle Metro Station looks brighter that made me assume that the light system at the Van Ness station was being fixed. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

In Boston, the T riders just need to scan their paper ticket or Charlie card one time, before entering the platform. Because I’m familiar with that, I didn’t know why I couldn’t exit the Dupont Circle Station platform after getting off the train. “There must be something wrong.” I tried the second time, the third time but I still got stuck.

“Use your farecard to get through,” a woman sitting in a closed booth adjacent to the scanner told me. Lucky me, I still kept the fare in my bag.

It was my fault of ignoring the instruction on the back of the fare which says “use the farecard to enter and exit.” Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

This high escalator took me to the entrance of Dupont Circle Metro Station. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

Dupont Circle

Outside Dupont Circle Metro Station. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

Dupont Circle. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

At Dupont Circle. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

I got out of the Dupont Circle Metro Station at 10:20, about 20 minutes behind the appointment. The first thing I saw was the farmers’ market right next to the station. I looked around to find my friend who showed up just a few minutes later with his bike. After parking his bike near the station, he took me to a bookstore cafe nearby, which I didn’t know is a famous one in D.C.

My running nose was getting worse but I still  wanted to sit outside to enjoy a nice Sunday morning. The Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe was quite crowded from indoors to outdoors.

I had a big Mexican breakfast at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe.
Photo by Trung Le

My friend said this cafe is known for its independence. It came in the national spotlight during Lewinsky scandal in 1997 when it fought successfully a summons from a federal judge to disclose which books Monica had bought for then-President Bill Clinton. I found it interesting to be in such a historically related place. I would like to say “thank you” to my friend again for introducing me the cafe and its story. I enjoyed breakfasting and chatting with him there. It was the first time I met him and my host after we left Vietnam in summer 2011.

I’m sorry for not taking a good photo of Kramerbooks & Aftewords Cafe.
Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

I left the cafe at 11:45, strolling around Dupont Circle, a traffic circle, park, neighborhood and historic district in Northwest Washington, D.C. The park is located a the intersection of five streets: Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue, P Street and 19th Street.

Dupont Circle Park. Photo by Mai Ngoc Chau

At 12:20 p.m., I left Dupont Circle, preparing for my next and last destination in D.C – the White House. Guess what means of transportation I would take to the residence of President Barack Obama whom I met in New Hampshire three days prior. Only 40 minutes isn’t enough for a tour to the White House. What I didn’t know was that my friend already had a solution in his mind.

(Washington D.C, October/21/2012)


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