Bonjour mes amis! Did you miss me? I’ve got to be honest, I really thought this blogging thing was going to be a piece of cake. I thought, “I am a great writer and super creative. Heck, I went to the Young Author’s Conference when I was a kid…this is going to be great…” or so I thought. I have literally failed in the past year+ to finish a post. Literally. But oh well, life goes on and without any apologies I will tell you my thoughts on how to deal with The District of Columbia on the worst/best possible time to visit… The Cherry Blossom Festival.
Last year, the weekend of April 11th was predicted to be peak bloom for the Asian beauties so we went out on a limb and took a gamble on Mother Nature’s mood. She ended up cooperating! (Thanks to this crafty blog I could check the bud’s progress weekly- sometimes daily.)
So exactly one year ago from today, we jet-setted off to DC but on a train… It was my first Amtrak experience. And it was ok… I certainly won’t use this blog to say it was the best experience I’ve ever had. My beau used to live in Germany so I was already accustomed to the whole train idea. Having ridden in over a dozen trains in Europe I’ve seen the best German sleek high speed rails to the classic Italian trains–you know the ones that show up whenever they want to… So Amtrak was somewhere in between that.
That’s not the point. the point is, public transportation is my #1 tip. Whatever you do; do not drive into the city .
Once we made it to DC (it was roughly a 2.5 hour train ride) we decided dropping our things off at a locker inside Union Station and then heading straight to the Cherry Blossoms was the best strategy. We were staying in Georgetown and check-in wasn’t until 3 pm. From there we walked to the National Mall and (almost) all the way around the Tidal Basin x2. Then back to Union Station to grab our belongings and to catch the Circulator to bring us to Georgetown for the night.
It was an insane amount of walking. 8 hours to be exact. Tip #2: do wear comfortable shoes.
We visited a few of the monuments during our walk. The Washington Monument was almost halfway to the Tidal Basin.
The trees were in full bloom. It really was a beautifully crowed day.
I was excited to see The Lincoln Memorial. Personally, I would have preferred a little less than 3 million people following me but don’t worry, I held my own and managed to dodge all the selfie sticks.
Tip #3: Do not bring a selfie stick.
I’m a sucker for a Greek Doric Temple…
…And it’s columns
Honest Abe=Honestly Crowded
We finally made it to what was the start of our Tidal Basin tour. (We never actually made it around the entire basin).
Here’s a map of the Basin for reference. We started our walking tour near the East Potomac Park and began walking North towards the Mall (again). I really wanted to see the Jefferson Memorial in the distance across the Basin.
Let’s start at the very beginning…Near the East Potomac Park.
We were excited to have finally made it to The Tidal Basin.
Once we made it across the Jefferson Memorial we decided to back track and head to the Memorial itself.
So we did. Inside The Jefferson Memorial.
Cette après-midi, we found a quiet spot for a little rest and repose.
Tip #4: Do bring a picnic blanket and snacks. We were close to the West End neighborhood which is home to a few of the ritzy hotels. So we took a quick detour to The Crown Plaza.
Tip #5: Do find a hotel lobby and buy yourself a drink. The Crown Plaza was gorgeous. I was ready to cancel our Holiday Inn and call it a day here. Instead, we recharged our batteries and ourselves for roughly 15 minutes. Only to head back to the Basin for Round 2.
Tip #6: Do return to the Tidal Basin late afternoon/early evening for more photo ops. The crowd is slightly more managable…minus a few hundred people. The BEST time? Dawn, when all the fancy photographers show up to take their prize-winning pics.
Tip #7: Do wait your turn to take a photo with the Jefferson Memorial amidst the back drop surrounded by the blossoms.
Tip #8: Do embrace the crowds. At this point, why not? They’re here to see Nature’s Beauty too.
And because the Cherry Blossoms are only in full bloom once a year for a week or so.
But seriously, the people never ended.
We ended our Tidal Basin tour near the MLK Memorial. It had been a beautiful day and we were exhausted. Now only an hour walk back to Union Station!
Once we made it back to Union Station we then headed to Georgetown. Due to the massive amounts of visitors that weekend it actually took us an hour and a half to make it to our hotel. The traffic was that bad. Tip #9: Do make sure you leave yourself enough time for dinner reservations. We had reservations at a Jazz Restaurant off of U Street (a 15 minute uber drive from our hotel) at 10 pm which I thought was late but by the time we got home to freshen up it was already 8:30 pm, leaving us just enough time to clean up and head to dinner.
The next day we had brunch at Bonaparte Cafe
Across from our hotel was an old cemetery, after check-out we took a quick detour through. Who doesn’t love an old cemetery stroll before noon?
Our time in DC was coming to an end. We took the bus to Union Station and walked around the perimeters for a little bit. There are Cherry Blossoms everywhere so even if you don’t make it to the Tidal Basin you can still enjoy the blossoms.
My final tip #10: Make the most of it! Seeing the Cherry Blossoms during peak bloom is one of those rare exceptions because there is no off-season or down-time to go. It is usually a 1-2 week window and no matter how you do the math there is going to be a lot of crowds. As long as you’re prepared you can enjoy every moment of it.
Until next time,