I just went downtown (and not very far) and it was a total screw up. I wanted to share those great moments with you. I don't know why I became such a terrible travel guide, maybe I've always been and did not notice as I traveled most of the time with Angie, who is an excellent travel guide :-)
As I said earlier, I was very lazy this morning. I thus decided not to go too far, but just for something like an hour to grab some food and drinks for the fridge and give time to the cleaning lady to make the room. Once downstairs, I thought I could at least make the effort to go to some university to visit the bookstore and buy a few books for my lecture, if any interesting ones ...
My first project before leaving France was to go to Georgetown University. But the laziness quickly took over and I saw that George Washington University was just two subway stations away from my hotel (Georgetown is not reachable by subway). So I decided for the cheap and quick option and went underground to catch the tube. First surprise, my farecard was not filled enough, I had to put money on it. As I did not want to put too much, I first got rid of my change and added a dollar banknote. Well, I had now 2,20$ on the card, I thought it would be enough for two stations to go and come back*. When arriving to GWU, I had the nice surprise to see that 1,35$ was debited from my card, same price as to go to Union Station at the other end of the city. Apparently, crossing the river and changing state makes most of the fare.
So even if I was unlucky and had to wait 11 minutes to catch the first train, I was happy to see I was right on the university campus when getting out of the metro. I first saw big signs on top of the building beginning with "George Washington University ...", so I directly entered the building, aiming for whatever bookstore I could find inside. Hum, but when arriving at the door, I saw on a little sign "Welcome to the GWU hospital" ! hoho, something wrong. I went backwards a few steps and read the whole inscription on top of the building, and yes, this was an hospital. I turned around and walked a few meters, enough to realize that GWU is not a general purpose university, but a medical science university, which kind of explains why it was not a famous one in my mind !
Well, the need for a bookstore had suddenly vanished as I was looking for Computer Graphics books of course ! So I thought I could walk one block to see if there would be some shops or something. While walking, I passed the blue bus that goes to georgetown ! Yes, I was finally lucky ! Perfect time to reevaluate my plans ! But when reading for the fare and checking my purse, I saw that they wanted 1,50$ exact fare and the best I could do was 5$ as I just got rid of my coins to refill the metro farecard ! crap !
Never mind, I told myself it was the right time to buy a drink and make some new change ! I turned around the corner and saw a drinks machine. The water bottle was at 1,25$, perfect to get a 1,50$ change out of my 5$ note. So I tried to put the note in the machine, it didn't want to take it. I tried all possible directions, the fucking machine never even tried to suck my note ! pfff ! After a few minutes, I ran out of options and gave up.
Across the street, a starbucks coffee ... Why not ?! After all, a coffee would wake me up and be as efficient as a bottle of water for the change ... actually not ! I got to pay something around 3$ and managed to get a 2$ change only ! pfff ... A bit desperate, I told myself I could ask the driver of the bus, maybe he/she would be nice and have some change. At worse, I could make a donation of 50 cents. So I went back to the bus station.
Arriving at the corner of the block, I had the bad surprise to see my bus leaving in front of me ! (and that's the kind of bus that shows up every 30 or 45 min). Instead, a grey bus offering tours of the city ! Well, at that point, I eventually decided the spirits were against me and decided to go home. I added a 1$ note to my farecard and went underground with my coffee.
While walking downstairs, I eventually realized that I was a terrorist as drinks and food are forbidden in the metro. Well, it took me some time to realize why there were huge trash cans before the gates and analyze the far to many signs of what is forbidden in the tube**. Well, I was now praying to not cross any controller while drinking my coffee.
Arriving to the electronic signs, I could read that the next train in my color and direction was in 16 or 17 min ! why me ?????!!!! So I waited, while thinking about how I could tell you the story !
One good thing when getting out, I found a hidden subway and bought myself a steak and cheese sub for lunch :D . Then, I went to the shop near the hotel, shop that looked like a grocery store but was in the end just a sandwich/coffee shop. So well, no way I could buy stuff*** for the fridge of the hotel room.
Conclusion of this wonderful day: I should better stay a geek and play wow which I just installed :-)
* I guess I should explain here a bit about the Washington subway system. You pay depending on the number of stations and time spent into the subway, so anytime you enter and get out again. You have gates like in Paris (but prettier) so you cannot cheat like in Vienna. The fare is sometimes ok, sometimes very expensive. I was for instance very surprised that for my two stations, it was 1,35$ one way ... But I did not know before riding the metro. The second important point is that the trains are not very frequent. The average waiting time is about 10 minutes, but, as you will see, I was especially lucky today. And finally, the stations are quite far to each other and it is really hard to get where you want to go without adding a half hour walk to the metro ride ... that is, unless you want to go to a mall. So you got it, the metro system in Washington is not very efficient ! But let's go back to the original story ...
** Another amusing thing in the tube is that animals are forbidden. But the sign says "Animals are forbidden, as any other dangerous items" :-) I found funny that dogs are considered as dangerous as explosives :-)
*** I am just realizing that we are in Virginia, and, in Virginia where I lived one year, your cannot buy alcohol everywhere. You have to go to some special liquor stores ran by the state, usually very well hidden in the country an hardly recognizable ...