All photos by the author
A couple years ago the Social Chair and I were sitting at a bar when the couple next to us asked us a question. They said they’d overheard our conversation with the bartender and were looking for a restaurant recommendation, since they were visiting from out of town and wanted to try something other than their usual haunts. We got to talking about where they were from (“Outside Toronto”), and we mentioned that we were leaving in a week to go visit family and friends both in and outside Toronto. It was at this point in a conversation with a Canadian that I would usually get to play my trump card, since my sister lives in a town even most Ontario natives haven’t heard of. But when we told them the name of the town (West Montrose), they got a little wide-eyed. And then they asked, “which house?”
It turned out that these strangers, from “Outside Toronto,” had almost bought that very house, and after they didn’t buy it their friends did. Their friends, in fact, were the couple who sold the house to my sister and brother-in-law (and since my sister’s family is moving to The Hague, it’s for sale again). In this city you never know who you might meet.
Judging by what I’ve seen on Twitter, and a stale rant that has been making the rounds again (which I won’t dignify by linking here), tourist season has fallen hard on some of you (the fact that it arrives at the same time as allergy season also doesn’t help, I’m sure). But I ask your patience as I make this heartfelt plea: please be nice to tourists.
courtesy of ‘Rolenz’
We love to hate escalators here in DC, particularly when they’re broken down or when tourists are blocking your path as you just miss your train. And since Metro can’t post signs telling people to stand right and walk left (remember why?), this escalator frustration was just something we had to learn to live with and silently stew over.
Enter howtouseanescalatorindc.com. Offering such brilliant tips as “DC escalator = think politics: Left = move forward, Right = obstruct path, Middle = no one likes a centrist make up your damn mind”, this site is the perfect outlet for escalator frustration. I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to shout at a tourist, “YOU KNOW ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO GOT ON BEFORE YOU AND WALKED UP QUICKLY? THEY WERE NOT IN AN EXERCISE CLASS. MOVE OUT OF OUR WAY” and now someone else has finally said it for me.
Thank you, howtouseanescalatorindc.com, for finally writing what we’ve all been screaming in our heads for years.
‘Fire and Ice’
courtesy of ‘bhrome’
To the Tea Party tourists visiting this weekend:
We’d like to welcome you to the nation’s capital.
Please note that despite some serious misunderstanding and outrageous assumptions made beyond the Beltway, DC really is a safe city to visit. We do recommend, however, that you just avoid Baltimore completely. Think of it as our certifiably insane sibling to the north, with delusions of class. (And yes, I am kidding. We DCites do have a sense of humor, especially at Baltimore’s expense. And Philadelphia’s.)
Despite some ramblings of various cantankerous individuals, the District does have a lot to offer you on your visit. We bust a lot of myths about our fair city here on this site; please take a moment to see if we’ve answered any of the ones you’ve heard. We also showcase a lot of amazing arts, theater, restaurants, individuals, and other great things about the DC area here; I invite you to check out what else lies beyond the Mall and maybe sample some of our wares. Continue reading
courtesy of ‘haddensavix’
Yep, you know it now from your daily commute — it’s springtime for sure, because tourists are in full bloom. And they’re making some funny interpretations of Metro stop names. There’s the Garden Collection — Rose-lyn and National Ar-chives — plus speculation over what “Rockville” must look like.
Yesterday I boarded a train full of schoolkids in matching “DC 2010” t-shirts, with one little boy who just couldn’t get over the name “Foggy Bottom.” He read it off the map, laughing out loud: “Fa-ha! ha! ha!-gy Bottom!”
Let’s face it; he’s got a point. Now that Shannon has busted the myth that DC was built on a swamp, there’s really nothing else to do with that name but reconnect with your inner 10-year-old and laugh.
So what have you heard folks calling the Metro stops?
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’
I give you the average day in the life of a Washington commuter (who happens to be a blogger and works downtown).*
7:06 a.m. Pulling into the parking garage at Franconia-Springfield a little early; traffic for once was cooperative so I am optimistic it’s a good sign for today. Until I nearly collide head-on with a driver coming up the ramp in the opposite direction who happens to be driving in the center of the lane, rather than sticking to one side or the other. Awkwardness ensues as I back into my selected space…and he parks next to me.
In situations like this, I put on my “Metro mask” and just avoid eye contact.
7:13 a.m. The electronic sign says the Blue Line train awaiting me on the platform below is departing in 3 minutes. I am amused as suddenly everyone’s pace picks up as we surge towards the turnstyles, only to be derailed by a gaggle of tourists attempting to figure out how they’re used. Two teenagers can’t seem to shove their paper farecard into the one clearly marked with the “do not enter” light; a mother wrestles with her stroller at the handicapped gate and suddenly, there’s only one lane for the rest of us regulars to use. And its not reading all the SmarTrip cards on first pass. I glance back at the electronic sign, noting that we’ve got two minutes…and hear the door chimes ring down below.
‘at least we’re not outside anymore!’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’
Did the Metro seem particularly crowded to you yesterday? Today, word comes from Metro that yesterday was the sixth-highest weekday ridership day in the system’s history. The combination of tourists that are still here for the cherry blossoms, spectators of the Frozen Four tournament, and regular old commuters like us led to this particularly high ridership day. And this is coming just a few days after record-high weekend ridership related to cherry blossoms and various sporting events.
But there’s good news! As Ben reported earlier, beginning next week WMATA is adding more rail cars during rush hour to accommodate the additional passengers on the red and green lines. So, take heart– next week’s commute will be better, and with the Cherry Blossom Festival ending on Sunday, those cherry-blossom-loving tourists will be out of town in no time.
Tourist season is here: you can feel it on the sidewalk, on the Mall, around the Tidal Basin, and especially on the left sides of downtown Metro escalators. Washington Post reports that DC tourism is up, but that hasn’t necessarily translated to increased revenue for local retail and hospitality businesses. DC, after all, is Freebie Tourism Central: free monuments, museums, parks, even the zoo. Proximity day-trippers account for a large part of the influx of travelers: people driving in from nearby, not staying at hotels overnight, or opting to crash in local relatives’ guest rooms.
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’
Love them, hate them, want to plow over them in the Metro, whatever your feeling is about tourists, I know one thing: HERE THEY COME! It’s about spring break time, and the cherry blossoms are about to burst into color, and we all know what happens to the city’s floodgates in spring. I hate to be the one to report it, but the influx of bumbley-directionally-challenged-overly-friendly-standing-on-the-left-side masses into our dear city has begun.
Metro Center has been noticeably more crowded, especially with the dreaded high school tour group clogging the platform and escalators. I hate accidentally walking straight into someone holding a map just because they randomly came to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk. I loathe trying to navigate around middle school students holding hands three across on the Metro platform. Don’t get me wrong, I love my city, and I’m happy to share it, but at this rate, we’re in for a long summer.
So I ask you – what are your tourist pet peeves, and where have you spotted the greatest number of them?
National Air and Space Museum, courtesy of Ryan
Tell us a little about you.
Right now, I live in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle and spend my days working in aerospace procurement. My nights and weekends are spent attending live shows and being outside trying to enjoy any good weather Seattle has to offer.
Why did you choose to visit DC?
Simple: I’d never been to DC before. I’m 32 years old and while DC has been in the forefront of my mind because of its historical importance and the constant references to it on the news and in pop culture, I didn’t have a real sense of what it was like. In many ways, it’s America’s most important city and I really wanted to experience it.
Was this your first visit to the area?