October 24, 2011, Washington, DC: Saturday morning was a gray morning in Dupont Circle, one of those times everything looks a bit worse for the wear. But if you want color and character in Dupont, there are a few places to begin.
My list of bright spots begins with my friend’s old apartment here, the one I subletted in the summer of 2005 while looking for a place of my own. It was a perfectly cramped little apartment and a perfect perch from which to get out and get to know the city. Its most unusual feature was a floor-to-ceiling map of the world in the building’s dimly lit lobby. The highlight was a disproportionately large deck out back that doubled the apartment’s living space.
During that summer and for years later, I’d come to know Dupont well, often in uncomfortable shoes, sometimes on the 42 bus, mostly passing through to and from work while living in the adjacent neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Woodley Park. I’d come to equate that stretch of Connecticut Ave. north of the circle with home and the area south of the circle with work.
I’d come to appreciate some neighborhood establishments here more so than others — like Kramer Books and Bistro du Coin and the barber shop where my husband has gone for haircuts every month for the past eight years.
I’d find gems off of either side of Connecticut Ave., too. One of my favorite spots is the Spanish Steps just west of Connecticut, tucked away in that international corner of Kalorama where beautiful embassies begin to dwarf family homes. Atop the Spanish Steps is a gorgeous little park that makes you feel far, far away. The steps themselves are a slice of San Francisco.
Over here, you’ll find sophisticated glimpses of D.C. that you’d associate with the life of a true Washingtonian. You’l find the Corcoran Gallery of Art and a fancy restaurant called Nora that we’ll try someday for a special occasion.
East of Connecticut beyond Circa, you’ll find a neighborhood that feels more real, a place you’re fine wandering around on a gray morning like Saturday in sweatpants and a baseball hat. You’ll find a neighborhood that feels a bit more down-to-earth on a weekend morning, a bit more fun on a weekend night.
I ventured through that comfortable neighborhood Saturday, past Hank’s Oyster Bar, until I intersected the 15th St. bike lane. From the Bikeshare station on P St., I pedaled back home to my neighborhood on Capitol Hill.