After an exhausting drive from Boston, Massachusetts to Georgetown and an afternoon of moving heavy boxes into my room, my mom and I felt ready for a relaxing evening. So, instead of booking a hotel downtown or in Rosslyn as close to campus as possible, we decided to stay in Alexandria, Virginia. Exploring a different part of the DC metro area felt like the perfect way to chill and celebrate the start of a new school year.
Our adventure in the town that George Washington called home started with an essential part of relaxation: delicious food. A French restaurant called La Fontaine sits nestled between colonial style shops and houses on Royal Street. One mile from the Old Town metro-stop and just around the corner from Market Square, it’s easy to locate La Fontaine and enjoy their creative savory and sweet crepes.
My mom and I sat at a wooden table for two on the sidewalk outside the restaurant and enjoyed soaking in the late summer breeze as we waited for our first round of crepes to arrive. I ordered a “Moroccan” crepe that was stuffed with feta cheese and spinach with mint sauce and balsamic vinegar reduction drizzled on top. The savory cheese and sweet sauces created surprising harmonies on my tongue with each bite. For dessert, I tried the “Just Peachy” crepe full of butter pecan ice cream, peach slices, peach brandy and topped with toasted almond slices. In each bite, the combination of smooth, cold ice cream, warm peaches, and crunchy nuts created a unique pallete adventure.
With full stomachs, we walked down King Street, the cultural hub of Old Town Alexandria, and absorbed the nighttime atmosphere. At the corner of Royal Street and King Street we found Market Square, a stone-paved plaza where a fountain bubbles and the fragrance of cream white flowers in the trees drifts across. We passed through the square and joined the other pedestrians strolling along the brick sidewalks lit by the yellow glow of old street lamps. Shops, boutiques and restaurants of all kinds lined either side of the street. A tea and spice shop, a Lebanese restaurant, a bar with a chandelier made from vodka bottles, and a Ten Thousand Villages fair-trade store all made me wish I had more than just one night in town.
When I came back to Georgetown to continue moving in the next day, I felt refreshed. I’d taken a mini vacation just by distancing myself from the hustle and bustle of moving back to the Hilltop. In Alexandria, weathered brick and bright clapboard facades created an old-time atmosphere while twenty-five miles per hour speed-limit signs and milling pedestrians naturally slowed the pace of life. Though off the beaten track of tourist activities in DC, visiting the Alexandrian oasis is well worth a few metro stops.
Photo: Victoria Morgan/The Georgetown Voice