This weekend the weather was perfect and the river finally finally warmed up enough for:
I was ecstatic.
Renting a kayak from Thompson Boat Center puts you in the Potomac right at the edge of Georgetown, so you always have Roosevelt Island, all lush forest and wild deer, on one side, and on the other you either have Georgetown itself or Rosslyn, VA, both built-up urban zones.
The river can get a little crowded at times (when I was there they were holding a crew race, and there was a lady on a bullhorn furiously screaming at people to get out of the way), and Saturday afternoons are obviously the most popular times to be there (motor boats also float by, but this is a no-wake zone). But in my experience everyone is very friendly; it’s hard to be stressed out or take things too seriously when you’re on a boat and it’s a beautiful day. And from the river you can get amazing views that you can’t get anywhere else.
One thing that I always long for after an afternoon of kayaking is a good place to get a cheap bite to eat. But, alas, this is Georgetown after all. There are a few places that cater mainly to the weekday office crowd, but the places that have the great views are mostly of the overpriced and uninspiring variety. Although it’s a fun place to be so sometimes it’s worth it to spring for a beer and enjoy the sun.
* * *
Right next to the Boat Center is the Swedish House, an interesting looking building I’ve always been curious about but never ventured inside. It’s actually a fascinating space, housing the Embassy of Sweden, meeting spaces available for rent, lots of exhibition spaces (open Thurs-Sun 1-6 and free to the public), and, for now at least, a lovely little cafe. The exhibitions are geared towards families and focus a lot on sustainable living and environmentally friendly thinking. And then there is, of course, the mural heralding the achievements of the Swedish nation, from the enviable (out of a population of 9 million, 4.2 million Swedes have access to country homes), to the distinctive (Saab, Ikea, H&M), to the dubious (“Clogs are the ultimate Swedish summer footwear.”), to the…well…
The cafe is run by a Swedish catering company located in DC. All of the food is organic and you can get a (really delicious) cheese sandwich and a lingonberry drink for $7; the pastries are a specialty and are also really, really good. And the space is, of course, impeccably designed and furnished by Ikea.
Right now the cafe is only scheduled to run through June, but check back at the link to see if they’ve extended it!
Leave it to the Swedes to create a perfectly-designed, kid- and eco-friendly space with delicious cinnamon rolls, modern art and lovely water features.