Being foreign · Enjoying DC

Exploring DC: the Georgetown Cupcake Walking Tour

“Wait,” said my friend back in Belgium. “What time is it there? Are you up early for church?”

Well, no, because I’ve wisely chosen a church that meets in the afternoon. But for over a year now, I’ve tortured myself by following various blogs and Twitter accounts and Facebook feeds about DC. Now that I’m finally – finally – here, I get to actually do some of the cool stuff that they mention. So, the early start of 10 am on a Sunday morning notwithstanding, the Georgetown Cupcake Tour beckoned.

I fell in love with Georgetown the first time I ever came to DC – it was autumn and the colours were beautiful, as if the neighbourhood weren’t picturesque enough already. And while I’ve now transferred my “I want to live there” allegiance to Capitol Hill, I still very much enjoy wandering around the area, and, once I get back into the Writing Zone, I will enjoy thinking of Kate, my first novel’s main character, and her life there.

And cupcakes – I love sugar, and, well, food in general, and I’m on a mission to explore American Things, so a tour that included the history of cupcakes seemed like enough to get me out of bed on a Sunday morning. I have to confess that I don’t looooove cupcakes as much as the average American does – I think I would enjoy them more if there was less icing, and  possibly also if they were smaller. Essentially, if they were more like the British fairy cakes. (I suppose it goes to show that however irrational it may be, we are all a product of our culture.) But I thought maybe I was doing it wrong – maybe this tour would help me appreciate cupcakes, teach me what to look for, help me understand them – much like a wine tasting does.

After a few interesting facts about various Georgetown landmarks (and the somewhat worrying admission by our tour guide that he didn’t like cupcakes) we came to our first stop: Baked and Wired. It’s set back from the main high street and it’s right next to the C&O canal, so it wins on beauty of setting. Our tour guide’s assistant brought out a box of cupcakes for us to choose from, but she wasn’t sure what the different flavours were. I was a little disappointed about that, but they did all look delicious. She told me mine was “like funfetti”, but that didn’t really help since I had no idea what she was saying. (I’ve discovered that unless I know how something is spelled, I can’t translate it into British English – but that wouldn’t have helped me here anyway, since I didn’t know the word. After my friend explained to me, I gathered the nearest thing I think we have is hundreds and thousands.) Anyway, it was pretty, and not too heavy on chocolate, and I have to admit it was yummy.

We then took a route I wasn’t fully concentrating on, since mu focus was on eating the cupcake and then drinking my coffee – and look what the clever Baked and Wired people did, despite my asking for it in my Starbucks cup …

So, we somehow arrived at a beautiful place I didn’t know existed – possibly because it didn’t when I last explored Georgetown. Basically, they’ve made a lovely grassy area by the river – the kind that I imagine to be full of happy families  eating picnics and toddlers playing in the fountain on beautiful autumn days. (Not summer, because any reasonable person stays well within range of an air conditioning unit during the DC summer.) The kind, in fact, that I’m sure Josh and Donna bring their kids to.

The purpose of this may have been to extend the tour – we then did another loop and climbed up a hill in order to get back to Georgetown Cupcake, which is famous because of some reality TV programme I haven’t yet got to the bottom of – but I was definitely glad to have discovered this part of Georgetown. At Georgetown Cupcake, on the main shopping street, the tour leader’s assistant went in again to get us cupcakes – but again with no explanation as to their flavour or which one to choose. This one was pretty, though, so I went with it.

It was also smaller, which was a relief, because eating it might have been problematic otherwise. (We’d been given bags to keep any surplus in, but that isn’t the same, is it?) In order to eat it, we were taken to a small park down the road. It was hot and muggy, so by the time we got there the chocolate was melted, which was a little sad. Afterwards, we went more or less straight to Sprinkles, a tiny cupcake shop also on the main shopping street. They have the best name, but the smallest selection. I chose the carrot cake, since it was high time for one of my five-a-day, but by that stage I’d given hope of being able to eat anything else, so it went in my fridge when I got home.

Overall, am I glad I got up on a Sunday morning? Absolutely. (And it felt like I’d had so much day by the end of it!) It was a fun thing to do with some new friends and a good excuse to visit Georgetown again. But I did feel a bit mis-sold on the Cupcake Tour thing. It was more a normal tour with some cupcakes to keep you going (or slow you down, depending which way you look at it). There’s definitely a gap in the market for someone who wants to do a proper cupcake tasting tour of Georgetown.

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