Shopping & Other Recreational Activities

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Personal Testimony: not meant for the worldly minded.

In between procedures, your time is your own.  You have a number of options. 

  1. You could stay in the room and channel surf through the 72 television channels.
  2. If you brought along a computer, you could connect to the internet.  The rooms each have modems which can be connected to via Ethernet, USB, or standard phone cables.  Ethernet and USB allow you to have broadband connection in your room.  The prices is $9.95 per day, or $44.95 for the week.
  3. You could take a bus to the Metro and explore.  The University runs a shuttle bus to the Metro station.  From there you have access to a number of malls, shopping centers, and the capital area.
  4. You could walk from the University to the Georgetown Park Mall.  Walk to entrance #1, turn right on Reservoir and walk to Wisconsin, then walk downhill to M Street.  The mall has entrances on both Wisconsin and M street.  It doesn't look like much from the outside, and is poorly marked.  If you miss it, just ask someone.

Georgetown Park Mall

I chose to walk to the mall.  It is roughly a twenty block walk.  Wisconsin Ave is lined with a variety of shops which get more upscale the further downhill you go.  Up near Reservoir Rd, Wisconsin Ave contains a number of local stores, mainly antique and decorative arts stores with a few eateries and hair salons thrown in for good measure.  The further you go towards M, the larger the stores get.  About a block from M Street you begin hitting the large chain stores like American Eagle, The Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch, etc.

As malls go, the Georgetown Park Mall is quite nice, but it is rather small.  Another oddity is that you enter from the street and are already on the third floor.  The bottom two floors are below street level.  I don't know what the upper floors of the buildings are used for, but they are evidently not part of the mall. 

One nice shop on the third floor of the mall is The Hattery.  They sell good quality hats at reasonable prices. They give a 20% military discount, but I suspect they would discount the asking price for anyone.

Georgetown

Another afternoon I explored the Georgetown area.  Instead of focusing on the mall I walked up and down M street and did a little shopping.  When you get to M street and turn right, you will be walking towards the University, and the closer you get the more college-like the stores become.  At least on the North side of the street.  On the opposite side is one store after another full of various home remodeling and redecorating options.  On the other hand, if you turn left on M street you'll continue walking past a number of upscale shops.

I needed a new pair of eyeglasses, but hadn't been able to find any frames I liked for prices I could afford.  Then I stumbled across See eyeglasses, a company selling private label eyeglasses that are probably made by name brand manufacturers, but for less money.  I'd been looking to buy one of the Silhouette Titan frames, but couldn't get past the $400 price.  I got the same thing at See, with lenses and coatings, for almost half the price.

I needed a haircut, but I didn't want to pay those high Georgetown prices at the salons.  I found a barbershop tucked along the side of the street, so I ducked inside for a quick trim.  Later I went into one of the salons looking for a Swedish file.  As I was leaving, the stylist asked me where I got my hair cut.  She had the same look on her face that people get when they step in dog poop.  So this story has a moral: you can be vain, or you can be cheap, but you can't be both.

Should you choose to do the same, (wander around Georgetown, I mean,) be sure to look up and down the side streets as well.  They often contain hidden treasures; for example, I discovered Morton's steakhouse about half a block off Wisconsin.  If I'm ever in the mood for a $34 dollar steak, that's where I'll go.  You might want to avoid driving your own car in Georgetown, as parking is nonexistent.  If you absolutely must drive instead of walk, then drive to one of the big malls and avoid Georgetown.  You'll about pay about $1.50 per hour to park at the malls.

On one trip I ate dinner at the Basil Thai restaurant.  The food was good and not terribly expensive.  The restaurant, surprisingly, had a distinctly European feel.  You can find it at 1608 Wisconsin Ave. NW, (202) 944-8660; they accept phone orders and everything is available for takeout.

On another trip I happened upon the Old Glory Barbeque restaurant.  Europe may be a cosmopolitan place, but one thing they don't do is barbeque.  It is one of those pieces of Americana that doesn't seem to translate.  Perhaps it is because European meals serve meat as a side dish while with barbeque meat is the whole point.  Or perhaps it is because good barbeque is so often wood smoked, and wood is in short supply in Europe.  Whatever.  You have your choice of six different barbeque sauces from around the country.  Another good thing about Old Glory Barbeque is that they have Samuel Adams and other quality beers on tap.  Too bad I'm not allowed to drink alcohol until after the bone marrow donation.

Pentagon

I am in the Air Force, but Naples is supported by the Navy.  Consequently it is hard for me to get uniforms.  A friend had told me the Pentagon had a good uniform store.  It was readily accessible via light rail, so I decided to go there instead of trying to get to one of the Air Force bases.  (Both Andrews & Bolling AFB's are supposed to be hard to get to via mass transit.)  In addition, Pentagon City was the next stop on the train, and it the train let out into a large mall with a nearby shopping center.

Georgetown University has a shuttle to the Rosslyn Center station.  The shuttle doesn't cost a thing if you show your room key.  The Metro costs $1.10 to get to either the Pentagon or Pentagon city.  Take the blue line; look on the map at the terminal station nest to the ticket machines.  I got off at the Pentagon, then later got back on and went to Pentagon City.  The mall is called the Fashion Center.  If you go outside the mall, turn right and walk about half a block, you'll be at the Nordstroms.  Go across the street and you'll be at the Pentagon City shopping center, a smallish sort of mall.  There is no movie theatre near either of these places, which I found a bit disappointing.

A word about the Pentagon.  It is really big, so big that you don't even notice its size when you are up against it.  The Metro exit comes out right at the main entrance, so you are never far enough away to get a sense of scale.  It's kind of like climbing Pikes Peak---you only see the next hundred feet of trail, not the whole mountain.  The security procedures seem a bit anal, but of course they do have reason to be concerned.

Once you get inside you'll find a lot of shopping.  But you won't find the clothing sales store in this area, and you won't find a directory anywhere telling you where to find anything.  It turns out clothing sales is on the fourth floor.  Take the main corridor, then go up the stairs, then turn right and walk down the hall.  Now you are lost, so ask someone to help you.  Good luck finding your way back out.  (By the way, the uniform store at the Pentagon is well stocked with dress uniforms, but less well stocked with work uniforms.  Still, it was better than what I had available at the Navy Base.)

National Cathedral

After this donation my day was free.  After spending a little time talking to my wife, I decided to go exploring.  This time I walked down Reservoir to Wisconsin, then turned north (left) and walked up the hill.  After quite a long walk I ended up at the National Cathedral.  It was startlingly large, but so well proportioned that it didn't overwhelm.  The problem with many of the European cathedrals is that they are uninviting places.  You can't imagine actually attending church in a place like that---too ornate and not invitingly proportioned, (the Duomo in Florence comes to mind.)  The National Cathedral was different.  It is the sixth largest church in the world, (larger than a Boeing 747,) but you could actually imagine attending services there.

Pentagon City Mall

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is a good sized mall, anchored by both Macy's and Nordstroms.  While I know I have been at larger malls, for a person who has been in Europe for over two years, this mall seems huge.  While we were there, Susanna decided to have her glasses adjusted.  We tried Lenscrafters, but they had too many customers and not enough help.  Later we happened across the Hour Eyes Optical shop, and Susanna popped in to have her glasses adjusted.  The frames were old and a solder joint on the frame gave way while being adjusted.  The frames were beyond repair, but the shop found another frame for her lenses and sent her on her way at no cost.  I highly recommend Hour Eyes Optical at the Fashion Center.

Later we went across the street and I waited in the Borders Books & Music store while Susanna looked around some more.  Located across from the Fashion Center, this shopping center contains a Borders, a Best Buy, a Marshalls, Linens & Things, and a CostCo.  Susanna bought a gift for a friend at the Best Buy, but said she had to stand in line for fifteen minutes at the register.  It also took them five minutes to process a charge card.  When I reminded her of something she had forgotten to get, she refused to go back to the store.  She'd rather pay the shipping charges on line rather than have to go through their checkout line again. 

Journal
Costs
Recreation
Why Marrow Donation?
Update

Personal Testimony: not meant for the worldly minded.