Washington DC: Neighborhoods to Check Out Beyond the National Mall

This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and Kendra Thornton of Thornton Public Relations

sherinthecity059I moved to Washington D.C. seven years ago from Charleston, South Carolina, in need of a life change.  When an opportunity dropped in my lap to work for a national organization, I said yes, because after years of living in Charleston, I was ready to leave the small city for a more cosmopolitan life, and the truth is, something always fascinated me about our nation’s capital.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Charleston, it’s my hometown, but I’ve come to calling D.C. now home.   When many people think about D.C. the first things that come to mind are the museums on the National Mall, the memorials, the capital and of course, the White House. But, what makes D.C. so unique are the neighborhoods beyond the Mall within the city and outside of it.

14th Street/ U Street Corridor

In a city, where most people tend to wear formal black and gray business suits, you may be surprised that there is a hipness and coolness to our city. In my opinion, it has some of the same characteristics of New York City’s meat packing district. A mix of boutiques, restaurants, bars and art galleries, this area tends to draw more locals then tourists.    Some of my favorite places include:

  • Cork Restaurant and Wine Bar: There is something cozy about this restaurant.  Maybe it’s the brick walls combined with the low lights, but the ambiance paired with the restaurant’s exquisite wine list and menu makes it the perfect place for a girls’ night out or a fun date night!
  • Estadios:  One of two popular Spanish tapas places on the street, this is a fun place to hang out. The menu features an array of Spanish inspired dishes. My favorite dish—the grilled octopus paired with potato caper salad.
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Palace: This is another popular place for locals. You’ll find Hill staffers enjoying happy hour here. It’s got a casual vibe compared to other places in the district.
  • Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar: a new restaurant to enter the scene,  is another Spanish restaurant just a few blocks away from Estadios. My top favorites—the Spinach-Chickpea Cazuela and the Wild Mushroom & Leek Risotto are delicious!

DuPont Circle

DuPont Circle is another favorite neighborhood. You can spend an afternoon meandering through the neighborhood, taking in the architecture, stopping in the shops or enjoying a meal or drinks somewhere.  If you’re in the neighborhood, you may want to:

  • Spend a couple of hours at the Phillips Collection: The museum is a privately owned museum featuring a variety of art collections.  The famous Renoir painting, “Luncheon at the Boating Party,” has its own special place in the museum. The Phillips also features traveling exhibits of some of the world’s most renowned artists like Van Gogh and Degas.
  • Take a docent led tour of the Anderson House. One of the city’s most exquisite mansions, the mansion served as the winter residence of Larz Anderson, an American diplomat, and his wife, Isabel, an author and benefactress.  The home was the setting for many diplomatic affairs, performances and galas. During the docent-led tour, you will be transported back the area.
  • Enjoy drinks at Circa after a day of meandering.  Perfectly located in the heart of DuPont Circle, you can enjoy a drink and some appetizers after a day of wandering. Another great place is Kramers Books & Afterwords Café.

Old Town Alexandria

If you’re looking to spend an afternoon outside the city, a fun area to check out is Old Town Alexandria. Located off the George Washington sherinthecity110Parkway or off the Metro, Old Town Alexandra offers something for anyone in the family to enjoy.  In addition to strolling through some of the local shops, you can:

  • Enjoy ice cream on a warm summer day or a nice cup of coffee at the harbor that overlooks the Potomac River.
  • Check out the Torpedo Factory.  The building features exhibits and galleries of local artists’ work.
  • Sip some wine and enjoy some appetizers at Grape & Bean. The local wine bar also hosts some fabulous events.  They’re not your typical wine events at all!
  • Take in some music at the Piano Bar at the Morrison House especially if you’re a fan of Sinatra and Dean Martin. You’ll definitely dig this place.

Whether you live in the DC Metro area or are a tourist, try to check out places beyond the mall. DC is filled with some pretty neat neighborhoods.  They may surprise you and you’ll come to a realization that DC isn’t just a political city filled only with men and women in suits.

How the Washington Ballet Inspired Me to Try Dancing Again

sherinthecity052Last night I attended a performance of Cinderella by the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center. I love the ballet! I absolutely love it!

Cinderella was absolutely beautiful. The dancers’ performances paired so elegantly well with the music that I was actually brought to tears. Each time, I attend a ballet performance, I feel as if I am floating away from my day to day woes.

As I watched the performance, I began to think about my many tries of being a dancer. The truth is, I am a terrible a dancer. I like to say I have two left feet. When I was young I took ballet for several years, and I wasn’t very good. I blamed it on my long legs.

A couple of years ago, I tried belly dancing. I had fun, but I was so stiff and felt awkward. I remember my instructor telling me to let lose, but I just couldn’t. I was more concerned with how I looked and seeing myself in a mirror did not help.

What I didn’t realize until now is dancing comes from within and one cannot expect it to give you confidence. You must go in with confidence, and for a long time my confidence did not come from within me but from others.

I am now in my mid-30s and for the first time, I feel differently about myself, about dancing. It took awhile for me to get to this point, but I am glad I am there. So, I decided to give it a shot again soon–whether it’s going for salsa, taking another belly dancing course or even give ballet another try, I think I am ready.

 

 

 

 

 

My Name Means “Darling” in French. Seriously, What Did My Parents Expect?

An Indian-American girl with a French name that means “darling”: Seriously now, what did my parents expect?

sherinthecity061When I was growing up (actually until my Freshman year of college), I had an issue with my name.  I didn’t understand why my parents chose a French name for me instead of an Indian name like all the rest of my family and friends. Maybe, it was the fact that the first question people would ask me was why my name was Sherrie. When I got older, I got smart and would say, “Well, my dad was drinking a glass of Sherry just before I was born.” Or, “I was born in New Orleans around Mardi Gras, anymore questions?”

My mother says it is because of my birthplace. My father tells me that he always loved the name.  It had really nothing to do with their love of French food, wine or the culture (even though I do have an accent egu on the last “e”).

For years, I had a complex about my name. Looking back, I don’t know why because now I attribute my name for defining every aspect of my life. Here’s how:

  • I am more classic than  hip.  I love ballet slippers, cigarette pants, pencil skirts and simple black dresses. I also love long shirts paired with a fitted pair jeans and boots.  I think pearls go with anything.
  • You will find me ordering a croissant and a latte at my local coffee shop. There is no better way to start one’s day!sherinthecity002
  • I am an aficionado on cheese and wine. Champagne–my favorite!
  • I love the language and I love speaking it.  Whether it’s my dog or in the midst of a conversation, I am always throwing in a “Je ne sais pas” or a “Donc.”  It’s sad to say, but I think my French is better than my Hindi at times!
  • I am obsessed with French impressionism and ballet.
    I have a subscription to the Washington Ballet and I sometimes find myself meandering to the National Gallery of Art to hang out with some my favorite artists-Degas, Monet, or Van Gogh.

Yes, I love escargot and I’d prefer crepes over pancakes anytime. But, I credit my name for much more. My name helped start my path to life.  I believe it attributed me to my personality and my confidence. If it wasn’t for my name, maybe I wouldn’t have pursued the career that I have now grown to love, my passion for writing (I am still hoping to publish my novel one day), or the continued desire to pursue my dreams.

So, when it comes down to it, I am glad my parents chose the name Sherrie for me.
Do you believe your name defined your path?

My Search for Degas Ends

A few years ago, I was meandering through The National Gallery of Art wanting to see one of my favorite artist’s works–Degas. Well, I finally found him! A couple of months ago The Phillips Collection hosted an amazing exhibition earlier this year featuring the artist’s sketches and oil paintings. I ended up going on the final weekend of the exhibit and I wasn’t the only one waiting until the last minute to see the paintings.

Some of my favorite paintings were on display like “The Dancers on the Barre” and the “Dance Rehearsal.”

Are you a Degas fan? What are your favorite paintings?