Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Anti-Tourist

Last weekend marked by 4th trip to Washington, DC this year, which is actually down from the last few years. It's one of my favorite cities, and I'm always looking for a reason to go there. We go to DC so often that we have a weird ritual of things we do that are not at all touristy.  As a matter of fact when I travel I generally try to be the anti-tourist. I want to see cities like a local, especially if it's somewhere I've been repeatedly.

Here are some ways in which we are anti-tourists in Metro DC:

We always stay on Courthouse Road in Arlington. There are two hotels across the street from one another: a Hilton Garden and a Clarion. We stay at one or the other depending on who has the best rates. Last weekend the Clarion won, and we had the largest hotel room I've ever stayed in for $87 a night. We had 1½ baths, a separate bedroom, a full kitchen. I'm not sure how we ended up with this room, but it was ginormous. It's a few blocks walk to the Metro, and it's not at all a tourist area. There's a great little farmer's market between the hotel and the Metro on the weekend. It feels like we're part of the neighborhood when we stay there.

We always end up at Ragtime located right on Courthouse Road in Arlington. Ragtime is the DC area's West Virginia fan gathering spot, and I discovered it by accident about a decade ago. We arrived at our hotel around 10:30 on Friday evening, and I decided we should go to Ragtime for late night sliders and a few adult beverages. A trip to DC isn't complete without a stop at Ragtime.

We don't make a plan. Every few years we do the touristy thing (we did it with family back in the spring), but for the most part we amble around the Metro DC area doing anything except being tourists. It may be shopping in Dupont Circle or dinner in Adams Morgan. It may include taco trucks and the little farmer's market near our hotel. It could be shopping and eating at Clarendon. This trip was shopping and meeting friends for lunch in Old Town Alexandria. Whatever our destination it's rarely the National Mall. I've been to DC dozens of times in my life, and I've never been to the U.S. Capitol. I have, however, been to every Pacers running store in the Metro area. Priorities.

I always run in DC, and I usually run outside. The Courthouse neighborhood is very hilly, and it makes for interesting (and often less than productive) running experiences. I needed to get in a solid 8-mile run before my races this upcoming weekend, so I opted for the hotel treadmill. As much as I hate the treadmill, I knew it would be the most effective way to get in a solid long run. I had the hotel gym to myself and rocked out the run aggressively, with negative splits.

It was a whirlwind less than 48 hour trip to our nation's capitol. The closest I came to a monument was looking out the window of the Metro as we headed to the airport. One of the things I love most about living in Michigan is the cost of living is low enough that we can head to DC relatively frequently. This weekend I head to another of my favorite cities, Norfolk, VA, to visit my family and run a few races. So many races and towns...there's not time to be a tourist. 

Ready for this weekend's races!

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