How to Avoid the Summer Tourists

o-WASHINGTON-DC-TOURISM-GROWTH-facebookWhy anyone would want to visit a former swamp in the peak heat and humidity absolutely boggles me. But now that school is out for summer, D.C. is going to be crawling with tourists and school groups. There must be something in the summer air that makes it prime time for fanny packs and neck wallets.

Here’s the (un)official guide on how to avoid the summer tourists:

1. Do not get off at the Smithsonian metro stop. Even if this is the closest stop to where you want to go, walk a little extra and get off at the next-closest metro stop.  Otherwise, it will just be a frustrating experience when tourists don’t understand that you stand on the right and walk on the left.  Seriously, just don’t.

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2. Speaking of Smithsonian, don’t visit the most popular museums on weekends (Air and Space, American History, and Natural History). Over the summer, they host After-Hours Open Houses on Thursday nights, which are much more worth your time.  If you’re dying to visit a museum on a Saturday or Sunday, consider checking out some of the lesser known ones like the Freer-Sackler Gallery or the Hirshorn.

3. Market more wisely. Eastern Market is a great place but you have to get there early enough to a) get bluebuck pancakes at Market Lunch and b) not suffer from claustrophobia, courtesy of every tourist.  Union Market is a tad more out of the way, but it’s a lot less known to non-Washingtonians and the set-up is a foodie’s heaven.  For markets more close to home, Dupont Circle has an amazing farmers’ market on Sundays and there is a cool pop-up farmers/flea market across from Safeway on Sundays.

4. Go to a Nationals baseball game. They might not be “your team,” but they are your home team for 10 months out of the year and I can guarantee that there will be minimal tourists there.  Students can get pretty cheap tickets and they also offer great group packages.  To top it all off, check out the Bullpen before heading in for slightly less pricey food and drink.

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5. Shop M Street during weekday nights. You live in Georgetown (or Burleith) which is perfect walking distance to prime shopping.  M Street is next to impossible to walk on weekends and if you’re on a mission for the perfect outfit, everyone will get in your way and/or take your size.  On weekdays, the stores are surprisingly not in shambles (even the sale section!) and employees are much more attentive (so they can tell you just how perfect your perfect outfit looks on you).

Photos/Gifs: huffingtonpost.com; giphy.com; flickr.com

4-eign E: All About that Mosque

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Merhaba, Georgetown guys and gals. (Note: merhaba is Turkish for “hello”.)

Some of you might remember my last post about my study abroad adventures (if not, study up). Basically, I have been living an unreal dream that I hopefully won’t wake up from soon!

After spending my summer in Quito, Ecuador (a.k.a. lo mejor verano), I am now spending my fall semester in Alanya, Turkey, at the McGhee Center Villa.

But, like, what is Alanya?

Glad you asked. Alanya is, as my study abroad advisor said, the “night club capitol of the Turkish Riviera.” (Yes that is a thing, I have lived it.) Located on the Mediterranean Sea, the weather here is never above 95 degrees and never below 70. Jealousy is a thing, so don’t worry if you’re feeling it.

The Georgetown villa here is probably the best thing in the world. We get lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday (thanks to our fabulous chef) and our apartment building (the lojman) has the best view in the city. It is the best Georgetown housing option, in my non-professional opinion.

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Basically, being here is like enjoying a beach vacation, with a few classes mixed in.

Turkey is a pretty wacky country. Although it is a secular country, the majority of the population is Muslim. So that means us here at the villa get to hear the “call to prayer” 5 times of day (the best one is at 5:30 a.m.).

Other than the untimely alarms, Turkish society is pretty normal. In Alanya, there are TWO Starbucks (and yes, they do serve iced coffee), local shops, a beach and a million and a half tourists.

IMG_8587I went real basic white girl, just for this pic. You’re welcome.

One of the biggest struggles is definitely the HUGE HILL that we climb up everyday. Only Georgetown would choose an apartment building with a 12-minute walk up and then a villa with another 10-minute walk up. But the view is a sight for sore eyes (and sore legs).

Alanya is a tourism center through and through. The majority of the tourists come from northern Europe, so when Turks see Americans they get really excited. #celebstatus

For some reason, the town of Alanya thinks that pirate ships are the epitome of the tourist experience. So everyday, about ten pirate ships go out on a day-long “booze cruise”. You can hear the music from our classroom. The best/worst part of the day is when they play Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, but actually why would you play that song ON A BOAT???

The Turkish language is a grand old time. In my opinion, it is a mix of Spanish, French, Arabic and something else I can’t put my finger on. Our teacher is hysterical and talks in a way too proper English accent. So pluses all around. Right now I am speaking at a three-year-old level so go Coco go.

But seriously, even with everything going on 600 km east of me, nothing seems to be different here. It’s  a surreal experience … you wouldn’t understand.

My next adventure? My ten-day European birthday tour. Catch me in Munich or Barcelona. The game of hide-and-seek just got a little bit bigger.

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Wanna check out more of my adventures? Talk Turkish to Me.

Photos: Courtney Klein/The Hoya; gif

The Five People You’ll Meet on the DC Metro this Summer

DC MetroAs Hoyas, we try to break the bubble as much possible, which means that we’ll likely take a trip on the metro at some point. You’ll probably meet an interesting array of people so here’s a catalog of these people to help you out.

1. The Business Professional

These “yopros” may be annoying, but for many Georgetown students this may be your future. They’re always impeccably dressed with their suits and briefcases and as you travel further into the political heart of DC, you’ll notice that they all have a government-issued security badge. The fresher the hire, the more prominently displayed the badge. They’ll spend most of the ride glued to their smartphone in an attempt to appear productive and important. They’re mostly rush-hour Metro patrons and carry that no-nonsense attitude with them all the time. If you block them on the escalator prepare to be body-slammed.

2. The Tourist

While this breed of Metro-rider is only seen at certain times of the day, the mighty Tourist is a constant presence. Their guide books will tell them to stay away from the Green & Yellow lines (which is stupid) and they will most likely be found on the Blue & Orange lines loudly counting down the stops until the Smithsonian station where they will all depart. Chances are that they will be wearing matching running shoes, fanny packs and tacky Washington D.C. t-shirts and will have a particularly noticeable regional accent. These are the people who stand on the left side of the escalator and take up two seats for one person during rush hour. They just don’t get it.

3. The Family

This type is similar to the Tourist, but the Family unit is ten times worse because they come with loud unruly children. Even if they aren’t tourists, kids have a way of almost getting shut in doors and causing general mayhem. The worst is when parents try to bring strollers into the crowded car and are surprised – mad even – when it doesn’t really fit. They shout, they move around a lot, they miss their stops a lot – they are the embodiment of a Metro nightmare.

4. The Probably Homeless Person

This guy may be homeless, or he may just be making a unique personal lifestyle choice, but he certainly does smells very strange. This person probably has a fairly large collection of empty seats around them – this is partly due to the smell, and partly due to the fact that he may be talking to himself. Even though he may be a perfectly nice person, it’s probably best to give him some space.

5. You

You’re either commuting to your internship or exploring more of the city, but you know enough of the unspoken Metro rules to get by. You have learned to not stand on the left side of the escalators, to not sit in the handicapped seats and, even though you probably don’t know exactly where you’re going, you definitely learned not to discuss that fact too loudly. You’re really just trying to take advantage of everything DC has to offer, and the Metro is the easiest way to do that.

Photo: Anamsong

Surviving Tourist Season in D.C.

The cherry blossoms are set to peak today. The National Cherry Blossom Festival began yesterday. It’s officially springtime. All of these events coinciding in one week typically mean only one thing in D.C. — tourists. Late March and early April is peak tourist season in Washington. And it’s no steady flow of tourists, rather a groundswell of Rocket Power-style shoobies. Luckily for those of you heading out around town, we’re looking out for you. Follow these tips on making this year’s tourist season as stress-free as possible.

1. Pick a different running route. Yeah, I know, the monuments are beautiful with the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin. And that breeze coming off the river cools you down during your warm afternoon run. But, large families with strollers, people walking slowly and giant tour buses will get in the way of your normally stress-relieving run to the monuments. So, pick a different route. Jog along the Capitol Crescent trail, through Rock Creek Park or along the George Washington Trail across the Key Bridge.

2. Avoid 33rd Street between M and Prospect. More tourists means more customers at D.C.’s most famous cupcake establishment.  Somehow there are more customers lining up outside of Georgetown Cupcake with queues that may extend all the way up 33rd and around the corner onto Prospect. If you need to go to M Street, just avoid the queue and take 34th. If you really need a cupcake, hopefully you know by now that  there are plenty of other cupcake establishments in the neighborhood.

3. Take this opportunity to explore other parts of D.C. The Mall, Capitol Hill, and areas around the White House may be overcrowded, but the same isn’t true for Adams Morgan, U Street or Dupont Circle. Check out our own Kyle Short’s D.C. Ramblings series for more ideas on exploring these less touristy areas.

4. If you do plan to visit the monuments and museums, be knowledgeable about the area. Bathrooms and water are in short supply outside. Lines are long. The museums are more crowded than ever. So, make sure that you know where all of the necessary amenities are. It’s helpful both for dealing with tourists’ questions and for knowing where to go yourself when nature calls.

5. Respect the District. As DCist reminded us, many tourists (and residents) do not. Set a good example for those who are visiting the District for the first time. AKA – don’t do what the kids in this post’s picture are doing. PLEASE.

6. Look happy for Georgetown tour groups. More visitors to the District means more visitors to our lovely campus. We go to a great school. It’s beautiful outside. (Hopefully) you’re having a blast in your college experience. Show that to potential future applicants.

7. Look for alternative modes of transportation. Tourists love the Metro, and, especially during the Cherry Blossoms, gobs of them will be getting off at the Smithsonian stop. If you, too, want to go there, look at less popular modes of transportation — Metrobus and Capital Bikeshare are great choices (and they don’t take you underground). If you’re going to Metro, make sure you have a fully-loaded SmarTrip Card in order to avoid the lines at farecard stations.

Photo credit: DCist