Five years ago last weekend, my lovely wife and I got civil partnered - a huge wedding extravaganza in London. So while others in DC cavort down M Street in costumes, Halloween is romance time in our household. We'd mused on going to New York, then Philadelphia, but in the end we decided to stay in Washington for a romantic minibreak. But for that to work, we couldn't just do the same old things...
Up bright and early, my wife romantically took my hand and led me to... The Department of the Interior. Ah yes, now THIS is a Washington anniversary, you say. Our destination: the Interior Museum, which was having an exhibition of National Park posters. This is a mission for the dedicated museum-goer indeed. First there is the gauntlet of incredulous (but cautiously welcoming) security people who need to sign you into the building - bring ID. Then you have to go through a particularly elaborate metal detector/bag scanner set up. And then you descend deep into this (pretty cool) government building, past murals, offices with really fun-sounding jobs written on them, a dry cleaner's and hat shop, a gift shop (where the proprietor oddly didn't seem to speak a word of English - or at least couldn't understand my accent), a coffee shop, a canteen, two different American Indian craft shops, an alarming array of people in costume (probably specific to the date we were there...) and then finally... the museum! By the time we got there, we felt we'd already got full value from our trip. But it was fun to see their small but interesting poster exhibition. There were no other visitors. We felt this was a truly Level 4 Washington experience. We combined this with a visit to GCDC to sample their grilled cheese sandwiches. Not only were said sandwiches delicious, GCDC is surprisingly cool inside. I'd expected a near-the-White-House-standard-lunch-joint - but it was like a proper occasion. Though were their grilled cheese sandwiches better than Glen's Garden Market? Hmm, not sure about that. But they were certainly better than the Pleasant Pops grilled cheese sandwich, which I also sampled this week. Ahem... let's gloss over quite how many grilled cheese sandwiches I've eaten of late. All in the name of research for you, dear reader...
Then it was time for a tour, but a Level 4 DC tour demands traveling further afield - in this case on the Silver Line to East Falls Church (NB: really rude metro staff at that station this weekend!) where we met a Reston Limo minibus and were conveyed deep into Virginia wine country. For those of us who don't drive (or don't want to drink and drive), a Reston Limo wine tour is quite a cool experience that we had always wanted to try. They take you to two different wineries each time, and ours were Winery 32 and Lost Creek (which are 5 minutes apart, somewhere countryside-ish in Loudon County). The trip is $39 each and the wine tasting fees are separate. First, it was lovely to get out into the countryside - the scenery was delightful, and we got a chance to do a walk around Winery 32 which we really enjoyed despite the blustering gales... Second, it is always fun to taste wine. Winery 32 were less friendly, complaining how they don't like groups, and charging us 50% extra for being part of one - and their wines were less exciting. But they offered lunch, and had a bright, airy tasting room. Whereas Lost Creek felt more like you were in a cavern, and their wines were in my view much better. I'd buy several of these wines if I came across them in a restaurant. Plus they had board games. Which was just as well, as Reston Limo tours gave us nearly 2 hours at each winery - of which only about 20 minutes is wine tasting! Of course you can buy and consume more wine during that time, and once we relaxed into the pace, it was a lovely day out. Suggest you bring snacks.
We polished off our weekend of new experiences at Chez Billy Sud, the French restaurant that has only just opened in Georgetown, a 30 second walk from our house. Despite it being resolutely French, they managed some excellent vegetarian food. They were lovely to us, and when they heard it was our anniversary, even lovelier. The ambience is formal but not stuff. The decor attractive and understated. The white tablecloths crisp. I really enjoyed this occasion restaurant.
We veered back onto familiar territory with a visit to Politics and Prose for an excellent event with the editor of the New York Times Book Review, Pamela Paul. She was witty and clever and cool and I was entirely envious of her job. Then we popped into Comet Ping Pong next door for some excellent pizza, though said ping pong tables were peskily taken up by children. So instead, after dinner we walked over to Cleveland Park and finished the evening with some superlative cheese and wine at the bar at Ripple. Delightful.
As for the rest of the week? Entertaining storytelling from Story League. A rather good visit to the cinema to see The Skeleton Twins. And a gala dinner to celebrate the middle school winners of the Broadcom Masters STEM awards_. (I wrote a separate blog about that for Huffington Post). And I got to do a hilarious proper photo shoot on the 33rd floor of a building in Rosslyn as I've been nominated for a cool award - DC 50 on Fire. And not even for all my Perfect Liars Club stuff. Exciting. Am I on fire? We'll find out on December 4th... But I got a cool photoshoot out of it. All in all, an excellent week.
What's coming up that sounds cool this week
Tue Nov 4th - Go enjoy a roast of the Mayoral candidates from the funny people at Tuesdays with Funnie, free at The Brixton. Or a talk by Water Isaacson on creating the digital revolution.
Wed Nov 5th - It's Perfect Liars Club! Grab one of the few remaining advance tickets here, or else turn up at the door and we can probably fit you in.
Thu Nov 6th - Check out the Phillips Collection After 5 - this month it's all about Paris and Brussels. Or go hear a free talk about the universe in the beautiful Carnegie Institution for Science. You won't regret it for the ceiling murals alone!
Fri Nov 7th - Go and be glamorous at the FotoWeekDC opening night party. Don't go to the Smithsonian Postal Museum party as it's been cancelled.
Sat Nov 8th - During the day, check out Artcrank, a bike-themed art show with the limited-edition posters costing $50. Afterwards, there's some improv and comedy in Adams Morgan at the Happy Buddha show, with some acclaimed New York improv folk.
Tue Nov 11 - Speakeasy DC have their monthly storytelling show - and the theme is Swan song.
If anything else that's cool crosses my radar, you'll be the first to know! Make sure you're following us on Twitter.
Things you should probably think about buying tickets for
6th, 7th, 13th and 14th December - Keith Mellnick and Inga Brege are doing a solo storytelling show with Speakeasy DC which, if last year's show is anything to go by, will be a fantastic, don't miss, sold-out extravaganza.
12th and 13th December - You guys are always complaining that I go to Second City and don't tell you about it til it's too late and the tickets are all sold out. So consider this your advance warning. The show's at the Arlington Drafthouse. Uber and Lyft exist for just such occasions. Tickets here.