Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

My apologies readers, I had a busy week of travel and didn’t have the chance to post. Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Washington, D.C. to attend the cherry blossom festival for my first time.

Washington Monument and cherry blossoms

Washington Monument and cherry blossoms

It all started in 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo bestowed a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington. The festival is famous nationwide, and I’ve wanted to go for years. On top of that, I happened to visit Macon, Georgia a few weeks previous which boasts the largest cherry blossom festival in the world, and they weren’t in bloom yet (even though it was projected to be), so it was that much more satisfying.

Enjoying the cherry blossoms

Enjoying the cherry blossoms

The festival takes place primarily around the edges of the famed Tidal Basin in the National Mall with excellent views of the Washington and Jefferson Memorials surrounded by radiant pink blossoms. Unfortunately, there are swarms of people so you can’t enjoy it peacefully. However, the weather was really nice so a stroll through the blossoms and the crowds around the Tidal Basin really is worth the visit.

Cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin

Cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin

There are a lot of events that go on there including a kite festival, parade, paddle-boat rides, and evening lantern walks; making it fun for all visitors. When planning a visit it can be tricky, since it all depends on the warm weather for the blossoms to bloom. Since this was a rough winter in the northeast USA, they bloomed very late into the festival. This might have influenced the big crowd of people who came on the peak weekend I was there. Overall, it is an experience that everyone should try once, whether in Washington or elsewhere (I’ve got my eyes on you Korea and Japan).

Group shot

Group shot

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Washington, D.C.: Capital paradise

In the last few months I returned to one of my favorite cities in the entire world, Washington, D.C. after 3 years of not visiting.

Washington, D.C. is so much more than politics and business. Sure, they bring an interesting and unique dynamic to the city, but that’s not all there is. My best friend lived there for 5 years, so I had the pleasure of visiting a bunch of times. It’s the type of city that every time you visit, you love it more. It’s a myriad of cultures mixed together. Outdoorsy like the Pacific Northwest, somewhat Southern, extremely European elegance, residents from multiple states, and nationalities from all over the globe. It really is a fair representation of the USA, since it has a little bit of everything.

The preferred mode of transport for many DC residents is bike. Cycling is an easy means of commuting, and a favorite activity for the many outdoor enthusiasts. Everywhere you go you see people cycling and jogging, it’s a city filled with fitness. Nearby hiking trails in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland are favorites to the city residents.

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Biking in Georgetown

My husband and I were visiting a friend of ours in DC, and we braved out the rain and decided to bike through Georgetown and the National Mall to see the monuments. It’s much bigger than people imagine, so walking it can possibly take more than half of a day. So we decided biking was more convenient, especially when wanting to cross the winding Tidal Basin to get to the Jefferson Memorial.

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Drizzly day at the Washington Monument

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Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial

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On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking at the Washington Memorial

What’s also nice about DC is that you can meet people from any state there. I’ve met people from Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Alaska just to name a few. Some being the only people I’ve met from those  states. You really get a sense that it is the capital of the country. At the same time you get glimpses of southernness, even though it doesn’t look or feel southern (other than its crazy summer heat). But then you notice the slower pace, friendly locals, Chesapeake seafood, humid weather, jazz, southern BBQ and many residents from the southern states and you start to think otherwise… And of course, it’s got immigrants from all over. Most notable are the residents from El Salvador, Korea, India, Mexico, and Vietnam, which constitute the 5 largest. For a curveball, there’s an increasing amount of immigrants from the UK arriving, and there’s a good amount of Ethiopians as well.

In fact, DC is supposed to have some of the best Ethiopian food in the country, and I believe it. Little Ethiopia is concentrated on 9th street between U & T street. My favorite spot is Zenebech Injera for no-frills hearty and authentic Ethiopian cuisine. My favorite being the vegetarian combo which contains tomatoes, red lentils, collard greens, chickpea stew, cabbage, yellow split peas with the unique injera bread. For those who haven’t had Ethiopian food before, you eat everything with your hands. You wrap up the rest of the food by scooping it into the injera bread. It’s very flavorful, blending spices and tastes from East Africa and India.

Ethiopian food

My favorite part about DC is just how lovely and stroll worthy it is. It’s one of the best cities to just take a relaxing walk through, especially in the summer in the evening.

Have you been to Washington DC? What’s your favorite part about it?

Happy wanderings,

Wanderlust Guru