A special work assignment has temporarily relocated me to DC. I'm living in a charming third floor apartment (in a row house with no elevator), centrally located near three metro stops, two grocery stores, the Y, and numerous restaurants and eclectic shops. I've become an inveterate walker, as I navigate my new neighborhood. These days, comfortable shoes are a treasured possession.
Walking brings a different perspective from driving or biking. I've been able to observe the area's architecture "close up." Ornate Victorian, brick townhomes are interspersed with modern high-rise buildings. Some of the older residences have tiny yards, but others use the space to park their cars -- something the size of a Mini Cooper or SmartCar fits nicely. Parking is at such a premium here, I didn't bring my car. Mostly I've gotten along fine without it.
I've also observed the rhythm of the city. Early morning is the province of runners, dog walkers, and sidewalk washers. The homeless persons who sleep on the steps of a nearby cathedral are gone by 7:00 a.m., when the doors open for the first mass of the day. They'll return for the night after the last service at 7:00 p.m. Grocery store check-out lines are longest after work, as people buy their carry-out dinners.
There are many cyclists here. I've seen men and women riding in business suits, briefcases strapped to their backs. Sometimes they wear helmets, but often they don't. They dodge in and out of traffic with little regard to vehicles or pedestrians. A cyclist nearly hit me one morning as he sped through an intersection. Another time I saw a rider texting as he pedaled and I stepped out of his way as he almost collided with the curb. I've been told there are some lovely bike paths here, but I'll pass on trying them. Except for spinning classes at the Y, I intend to keep my two feet on the ground.