Thursday, September 24, 2015

Welcome, Pope Francis!

This week was a big week in D.C...

I was finally back in town from work travel!

Oh, and also the most holy leader of the Catholic church was in town. Pope Francis himself. The people’s pope!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to any papal festivities but, even as a born-and-raised Presbyterian, I was overwhelmed with the historic magnitude of the pope’s visit. I watched the black Fiat on TV like it was my job. Seeing him bless those babies from his one-of-a-kind Jeep? Watching him lead mass for over 25,000 people? Witnessing him standing side-by-side with our President outside the White House? Amazing. The city put itself on hold to welcome Pope Francis and that’s pretty fantastic.

Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik via ABCNews7
Not only was it Pope Francis’ first time in Washington, D.C., but his first time in the good ol’ U.S. of A! Well, Holy Father, I too was once new to the Washington, D.C. area. In fact, that’s how this blog even started. I know it’s a bit too late now….and you didn’t ask…but here is the advice I would’ve given you...had you asked...which you didn’t.

Definitely Don’t Fly Into Dulles. It is so far from downtown. It doesn’t look that far on a map, but trust me, it feels like an eternity. I always try to fly to Reagan National if at all possible. I’m glad to see that it appears you got to fly into Joint Base Andrews. That works too, I suppose. I never get offered flights there, but I guess it’s a good option.

Go See The Monuments at Night. Seriously. That’s when they are most spectacular. I bet you can find someone who would be willing to show you around.
Credit: Architect of the Capitol
Dupont Circle is Confusing as Hell. Well, I mean, not literal hell. Probably not the best word choice in this instance. But I think you catch my drift. If you want to turn onto Mass Ave, you have to get on the inside lane which makes no sense, I know, but just do it. Also, don’t get distracted by the Krispy Kreme sign. I know it’s enticinggets me every timebut you just gotta keep circling around. 

Choose Your Cupcake Vendor Wisely. Look, everyone will tell you to go to Georgetown Cupcake. They were on TV, they have cute icing decorations, etc. etc. But, here’s the deal. Baked & Wired is the real thing. At Georgetown Cupcake, you’ll have to wait in a long line and I know you’re a busy man; you’ve got places to be. Plus, in my opinion, their cupcakes are a little drier which could mean a lot more crumbs on your robe.

Rock Creek Parkway is One Way During Rush Hour. So, they don’t make this abundantly clear until you’re trying to drive on Rock Creek Parkway and it starts funneling you onto the other side of the street. Much like Dupont Circle, the first time it happens it’s confusing as, well, you know. Don’t be alarmed, just follow traffic. If you’re taking the pope mobile, I’d be careful to keep your arms inside the vehicle. I often see a lot of wildlife along Rock Creek Parkway. I don’t know how deer would react to an all-white, open vehicle. Maybe take the Fiat?

Sign Up for Airline Text Alerts.
The Pope's departing flight.
(Credit: @jeffelkinsphoto via Washingtonian)
I see they’ve got you departing on American. That’s cool, but just be sure you sign up for text alerts because they change your gates a lot. I fly American/US Airways quite a bit and they’re always pulling that mess. You don’t want to be buying your Swedish Fish at Hudson News and then get back to the gate to board and realize you need to be 10 gates down. Also, if you have the AAdvantage credit card you can board in zone 2. If you are late to board with zone 2 because you didn’t know about the gate change, you may have to gate-check your bag andughthat’s just a whole other thing.

Know Your Cardinal Directions. (See what I did there?!) You gotta know if you’re east, west, north, or south in the city. I don’t anticipate you needing to take an Uber, but if you do, make sure you know which quadrant of D.C. you are inNW, NE, SW, SE. There is nothing worse than having your Uber driver call to tell you he’s arrived and you’re all “I don’t see you! Where are you?” only to find that he went to NW and you’re in NE.

Don’t Be Offended By People Who Don’t Smile. I’m from the south. We smile at everybody. They don’t do that in D.C. So don’t worry about it if you politely say “Hi, how’s it going?” in line at the Starbucks and just get a blank stare in response, it’s not your fault.

Jaywalking Should Be A Sin. Am I right? Watch where you’re going in that pope mobile because people in D.C. do not believe in crosswalks. They are always trying to tempt fate by walking before the walk sign signal. That sign isn’t just there for decoration, people!

The Newseum is Worth the Price of Admission. 
This could be you!

I know it seems a little pricey when the Smithsonian museums are free, but the Newseum is stellar. It has interactive exhibits and covers a fascinating range of moments in history and humanity. Also, you can record your own newscast! My sister and I reported live from the moon!

I'm sorry, Pope Francis, that I couldn't get this important advice to you sooner. Hopefully you found your way around OK and people were kind to you. 

In truth, thanks for making this exhaustively partisan town a bit more united, even if only for three days. May we carry that open-mindedness and  inclusive attitude with us beyond your short time in the U.S. Perhaps you could say a special word to the man upstairs?  

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