A La Carte
Georgetown to New York in four-and-a-half hours. Direct.
Skip the train, downtown traffic, the shuttle delays. Point to point.
Welcome to the new hip way to get to the City from it's tiny cousin to the south. (That's right: Georgetown, the mini-Manhattan.)
But get ready, it's a bus. In this case, one called Vamoose, taking off from Arlington, a short walk across Key Bridge.
On a recent Saturday, the driver has a New York attitude. "I go straight through. I don't make stops." She's warning the passengers on this sold-out expedition. "No reading lights in the first four rows." When you hear that tone, you listen. You obey. Hey, it's a commute, just get us there. Besides, it's 2:00 pm. Who needs reading lights?
It's surprisingly smooth.
You may get stuck in traffic. A baby may cry. But babies generally don't take the bus. Mothers wouldn't choose to do that. And the passengers, oddly, do not feel the need to yak on their cell phones.
Yes, you heard that right. Is this the one place in modern America where people don't want to be overheard? Blame it on the bus -- it's quiet. To have a conversation on your cell is to have 15, no 20, people hearing it.
So we go. It's one-quarter the price of the slow train on Amtrak -- $30 one way.
Can it be true? Could it be hip? Yes. It's cheap, it's hip, it's easy.
One recent Saturday, a Georgetown passenger takes the bus home from New York, and is so relaxed, she leaves a $400 coat in the overhead luggage rack. 10 minutes after getting off the bus, she realizes.
Phone calls, email messages to Vamoose. 24 long hours.
Then, a call. "Ms. Solomon, we have your coat. It's here for you to pick up."
A friend, in kindness, sets out to claim the beloved trench. Will it be wrinkled? Will it be ruined?
Hanging prominently on the wall at Vamoose regional headquarters in Bethesda, it hangs quite elegantly. Yvonne Brooks-Little, regional manager, says matter-of-factly, “We’re known for service both on and off the bus. We don’t find everything," she says, "but we have returned everything from iPads to $500 Jimmy Choo shoes.”
In this case, the passenger’s note read: “The coat was left on the right side upper luggage storage above the fourth row of seats. Thank you.”
Two days later, after leaving her gunmetal grey Adolfo Dominguez trench coat on the seat, the passenger received the good news from Anthony Driver (yes, his real name, though ironically Anthony is a supervising manager, not an actual, ahem, driver). He had tracked down the missing coat. Then, he tracked down its owner from Georgetown.
Recently voted best bus to New York City by Bethesda Magazine, Vamoose has a solid fan base from students to cabinet officials who enjoy the service and convenience, not to mention the $30 ride. For an extra $20, Vamoose offers Gold service: a luxurious bus with only 36 seats and 50% more leg room.
Vamoose Gold Bus provides daily luxurious bus transportation between New York City and Arlington (as well as Bethesda and Lorton). For more information, including $20 off each way for Georgetown University and American University students, contact: www.vamoosebus.com
A longtime supporter of sustainable agriculture, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales paid a visit Tuesday afternoon to an urban farm and education center in LeDroit Park.
Prince Charles was met at Common Good City Farm by executive director Pertula George, vice-chair, DeeDee Slewka, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. An enthusiastic crowd of young gardeners and neighbors was delighted when Prince Charles graciously made his way around the farm shaking hands, inspecting beds of vegetables and fruit along the way.
As DeeDee Slewka told The Georgetown Dish, "Prince Charles is very interested in what can be done to counter childhood obesity which is a problem both in the US and the UK. Our farm works in the heart of D.C. to interest youth in growing, cooking and eating fresh vegetables."
Listening intently as herbalist Tricia McCauley explained their medicinal value, Prince Charles was delighted to hear how teaching people to use herbs was a healthy antidote to treating maladies with pills.
An active gardener since 2008 when she first saw the signs go up on her block, Loneice Queen explained, “This used to be a baseball field. Now I have my own raspberry bush.” Asked what she liked best about the farm, Loneice said, “You can try new foods … like kale and radishes, eggplant and squash. And they taste better than in the grocery store.”
Started in 2007, Common Good City Farm has provided over 400 bags of fresh produce to low-income D.C. families, taught over 1,000 D.C. residents, engaged over 1,500 D.C. school children, and hosted over 2,000 volunteers. Neighorhood children and teenagers are active gardeners in the youth program, learning to grow and cook food after school and on Saturdays.
Before he left, Prince Charles planted a Redbud tree.
Wednesday, Prince Charles will give a keynote speech at a conference on sustainable agriculture at Georgetown University.
For more information, contact Common Good City Farm.
Move over, cupcake -- there's a new confection in town. PAUL USA, a 120-year-old upscale authentic French bakery-café, will officially open its doors on May 2 in Penn Quarter, followed by a store at Wisconsin & M Streets in August.
Would a president of Starbucks in France trade all that corporate cash to go back to basic French baking? Mais bien-sur! At least that's what PAUL president Philippe Sanchez decided to do. Tuesday PAUL welcomed Mayor Vincent Gray, French Ambassador to the U.S., Francois Delattre, Maxime Holder, Chairman of PAUL, Capital Restaurant Concepts CEO, Bechara Namour, and Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans. Also present, Capital Restaurant Concepts president, Paul Cohn.
Elaborating on the long-standing relationship of PAUL and Georgetown-based Restaurant Concepts, Lisa Amore, PAUL spokesperson told The Georgetown Dish, “Bechara Namour opened PAUL in Lebanon 30 years ago. Today Capital Restaurant Concepts celebrates a new joint venture with PAUL in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.”
“Discovering the passion for the art of baking in this family-owned business” is what persuaded Sanchez to relocate from Paris with his wife Sarah and their two children. Started in 1889 in Lille in northern France, PAUL now has 500 stores in 22 countries, including London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Tokyo, Bahrain, Belgium, Jordan, Qatar and Switzerland.
“It was love at first sight,” Maxime Holder, PAUL’s chairman told the guests, deciding to make Washington D.C. their first U.S. location. “It’s very international, with lots of chefs and a great interest in good food here.” As he turned to Mayor Gray, he added” This is your shop now, Mr. Mayor.”
“It’s impossible to imagine a meal without bread,” French Ambassador Delattre said. So important, he noted, that “UNESCO recently named French bread part of humanity’s cultural heritage.” The ambassador made special note of the fact that PAUL is using flour from Wisconsin.
With “50 fantastic team members”, Holder explained, “only three are French.” Echoing Holder, Mayor Gray said, “A milestone for the city, PAUL’s 501st store. This sends a message that our city, how Penn Quarter is growing. People want to walk. They want to live in downtown. One of the most exciting pieces of news is that the majority of people working here live in D.C.” In closing the mayor announced, “Let’s Welcome PAUL!”
Inside guests enjoyed Champagne Mimosas, croissants, pastries, sandwiches and French macarons (D.C.s new cupcake?)