Sunday, November 28, 2010

America’s Beloved Capital: Day 2

A continuation of my Oct post [link to day 1].

Stamps and letters
Next to Union Station, there is a Post Museum [link] that I managed to miss during my four years of living in DC. Beautiful space with plenty of educational and fun exhibits for kids and adults alike.
My family has always enjoyed collecting stamps so I grew up saving and looking at different stamps. I suppose this museum will be equally fascinating and mysterious for kids growing up today without knowing anything about snail mail or stamps.

Some exhibits that I enjoyed:
-Victory mail: You’ve probably heard about war time letters between soldiers and their family/sweethearts, but did you know they had developed vmail in order to reduce the amount of cargo weight? Reading their letters made me nostalgic for the days when people captured their feelings through handwritten letters, and waited quite a while for a response. Receiving a letter then must have been an exciting event and a relief. With technology today it is possible to text/call/tweet/IM/Skype but people find it harder to express their feeling in coherent ways.
-International stamp gallery [link]: Ever wondered what kind of stamps other countries used? This small room with pull-out plates holds a vast amount of stamps. If you want to see everything you may need a day. I recommend Italy, France, Japan, and Spain. They had really unique and artistic stamps.

-Stamps A-Z: Educational but such a short-lived exhibit! I wish they had made a book or a pamphlet of the alphabet.

The souvenir store also has many goodies for stamp lovers. I bought a series of travel related stamps for my parents: trains, ships/boats, planes, and overall transportation (including hot air balloons!)

A little bit of art
I dragged T. to the National Gallery of Art [link], mostly for the Edvard Munch exhibit [link]. Besides his famous Scream painting, he’s done plenty of other works that deserve attention. I liked all of the prints where he depicted people and their interactions in a fluid manner. The way people curved and surrounded each other was interesting. He also captured red flowing hair of the female subjects that is both dreamlike and dynamic.

T. recommended that we check out the Arcimboldo exhibit [link]. How do you merge people and fruit/vegetables? He’s found a way, even as early as the 16th century. My favorite series was the 4 seasonal one. Four different portraits with seasonal produce! Below is a statue someone built in his style.


I tried to introduce Rothko to T. without too much success. I don’t even remember when I started to appreciate Rothko’s works. Most likely after seeing enough exhibits in MoMa and Whitney and realizing that although abstract, those paintings had a certain mood and texture that was not found in other works. 

New find
Every time I find a new space somewhere in DC and NYC I’m always wondering why it took me so long to discover it. T. and I both enjoyed photo ops in front of the Capitol Building (my favorite in DC), Library of Congress, Archives Building, and more. In any case, the Navy Memorial Plaza [link] gave us a chance to rest our feet and enjoy the autumn weather. Note to self, check out the heritage center next time. One of the buildings also had intricate and navy themed stained glass window art.


Tapas and sherry to end the day
After much walking and adventuring, T. took me to Tasca [link], a tapas restaurant. I would do a full review but of course I’ve since forgotten what we’ve ordered. I do remember Serrano ham, fig and cheese, tomato garlic toast and grilled octopus…along with some others. They had a wine special that night and sherry was included. We had a bottle that we couldn’t finish…I hope T. found a way to use it in her cooking or entertaining. I’m pretty sure we got the sponge cake for dessert which was just perfect. How can you go wrong with condensed milk and evaporated milk? The place also gets bonus points for great decor and ambience. I loved the framed mirror and lighting.


Awesome weekend spent in DC. Looking forward to (re)discovering more places next time I visit.

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