January 23, 2012

Top 10 things to know before visiting Washington, D.C.

  1. Thinking about renting a car while you're in town?  Stop.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200. Do not call Hertz.  The roads are confusing, parking is a bitch, and the locals pull maneuvers that would have made Evel Kneivel cringe.  Save yourself the expense.  Most importantly, save your sanity.
  2. Now that you're no longer planning on renting a car, let's discuss the fabulous DC subway system called the Metro.  And by fabulous, I mean worthy of being displayed as an antique in the Smithsonian.  But you are still far better off navigating underground trains than you are above-ground personal vehicles.  
  3. When using escalators on the Metro, walk on the left side and stand on the right side.  But should you forget this little tidbit, it will only take a local approximately 0.5 seconds to remind you of it.  
  4. Not everyone who lives in DC works for the federal government
  5. Not everyone who lives in DC knows the President.
  6. Yes, people actually live in DC.
  7. The white building with the big fat dome is not the White House.
  8. Purchasing and wearing an FBI baseball cap will not fool anyone into thinking that you actually work for the FBI.
  9. Beer is expensive compared to wherever you are from, unless you are from NYC or Scandinavia.
  10. If you do happen to commit the Visitors' Sins implied in #3 - 8, the locals will refer to you as a "touron".  
The White House is not in this picture.


  1. - If we're lucky, our escalators are moving beltways of stairs. As such, they will continue to move when you stop off of them - PLEASE KEEP MOVING! We will run you over should the occasion present itself.

    - Please do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk to consult your map to figure out how to get to our non-domed White House. I'm not suggesting you play in traffic (exactly) but please move to the edge of the sidewalk, perhaps towards a building, so that the people in motion can stay in motion rather than slaloming around you.

    - Please, PLEASE do not "Red Rover" the sidewalk. Your family of four does not have to walk side by side (by side by side), thereby causing everyone to have to break through your ranks in order to continue their journey. It's annoying.

    [No, I haven't lived here for nearly two decades or anything...]

  2. True on all counts. Except I'd never heard of the "touron" term, but it makes sense and I'm going to adopt it.

  3. Dani - agreed! Although I'm beginning to realize that many recommendations can apply to large cities anywhere. Doesn't make them any less worthy of mentioning, though :) Aaron - isn't it brilliant? I wish I could take credit for it!