Let’s Start The Winter Classic Proper, Shall We?
Soon, the hockey world will descend on our quaint little hometown of Washington, DC: America’s least favorite theme park. Or as JFK once described it, “a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” As 25 year residents of the city, we’re here to provide that charm. Consider us your 2015 Winter Classic Welcome Wagon.
Although visitors come in for the big game, they may find themselves with some extra time to explore some of the city’s sites, dining, entertainment and cultural venues. We’re doing this in part because the official DC visitors’ organization, Destination DC, doesn’t appear up to the task. Their Winter Classic page is meager; the only event site they offer is a link to Stubhub (SRO from $129), which is basically saying, “Good luck, suckers.” Their bigger sin however, was not returning our emails.
We’ve made a career out of writing how 29 other NHL cities smell or have ugly people, or in many cases, smelly, ugly people. DC certainly deserves every disparaging barb that can be hurled at it and we’re more than happy to pile on. Like many fossils in this town, we look back wistfully to a time when this city functioned, had ample street parking, nabes had vibes instead of BIDs and true giants roamed the marbled corridors at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue – not these punk-ass bitches who look like they came out of a central casting call for punk-ass bitches.
The side of DC the tourists never see
It’s a cliché, but Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. It’s cliché for a reason; it’s true. Stick around after the Winter Classic and take a stroll around Capitol Hill or the soul crushing canyons of K Street on a busy workday, and you’ll know what we suffer through. Those shambling cadavers you see are not extras from the Walking Dead; we call them lobbyists. How bad is DC? Even Wyshynski fled.
But when planned wisely, a weekend in DC can be a pretty fulfilling and rewarding way to…visit your squandered tax dollars. Given the spread and diversity of this sleepy southern town, we’re going to publish these visitor guides by geography. First up, our ‘hood, 14th an U Streets, then later this week, H Street, Barracks Row, and Northern Virginia (if you insist on doing this trip on the cheap and want a horrible experience).
First things first, you can’t get there from here: Navigating DC
If you’re driving to DC for the game, park your car at the hotel and leave it. DO NOT DRIVE IN OUR CITY, TOURIST!
DC was laid out by a guy named Pierre L’Enfant in the 18th Century and the street grid makes no sense to anyone who isn’t a 250 year old French civil engineer. So unless you’re driving a four-in-hand or being squired around in a Hansom, STAY OFF THE STREETS. Number streets run north-south, letter streets run east-west, and Avenues named after states spiral out from un-navigable traffic circles. You will get hopelessly lost, ticketed, booted, or towed. Paid parking is pretty steep, too, but you have alternatives, and many of them safe.
MetroRail: Nats Park is conveniently located on Metro’s Green line, and the station is mere steps from the stadium entrance. Metro also serves just about any neighborhood you’d want to get to during Classic weekend and probably your crappy hotel, too.
Depending on the day, service begins at 5:00am and runs until the wee hours. It’s quiet, a clean system and very safe. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our 40 year old subway system is a bit creaky. Two major lines were shut down just last week due to a water main rupture that flooded several downtown stations. Delays happen often and expect very crowded cars getting to the Stadium on New Year’s Day. Metro may throttle back to a holiday schedule that day and wait times could be long. Be smart, get SmarTrip card and load it up with shekels to cover you for the weekend, so you don’t have to dick around with paper farecards that charge a $1 premium per ride.
Metro tips: Don’t stand around like an idiot looking at the FareCard machines, trying to figure out how they work.
The instructions are in hieroglyphics so ask a friendly local like ourselves to interpret and walk you through the steps. We may steal your wallet so keep an eye on your belongings. When riding the escalators – that are sometimes known to work – do not stand at the top or bottom of them. You risk being trampled, sworn at, or run like Milan Lucic did to Ryan Miller. When you get on a train car, don’t crowd around the doors like a pylon hoping to be first off. That’s what fat ass, self-important lobbyists do when they’re late for a meeting on the Hill with some jerkwad senator to plead for a tax break for some greedy gazillionaire, who probably owns your favorite NHL team.
Taxis: Back in the day, under the zone system of fares, just about any cabbie would rip you off. Taxis are now on meters here, so unscrupulous hacks can’t pull fast ones anymore.
They even take credit cards now. The cabbies are pretty much OK, many even know where they’re going and it’s easy to hail them on the street. Expect the unmistakable aroma of carbon monoxide wafting up through the floorboards in many of DC’s cabs because motor vehicle inspections are merely suggestions to these guys. So is cleaning filth off the backseats. So is speaking English. If he asks you to get in the trunk, just do what he says.
Uber: Don’t use Uber. They’re evil. And it may end poorly.
Biking: If the weather permits, DC is a great bike town with plenty of bike share locations all across the city, including Nats Park. But since we’re expecting near-freezing temps, screw that; save the biking for your springtime visit to DC – WHEN THE CAPS ARE GOING DEEP IN THE PLAYOFFS!