It rained a lot in DC

So after a sojourn in the land of almost-eternal sunshine, I headed to territories new: Washington, DC.

In some ways, DC was what I expected. The Mall is indeed both grand and vast, the Capitol imposing, the downtown area sober and full of political activists, the Washington Monument a huge phallocentric symbol of might and power. But it did hold a few surprises. The Lincoln Memorial, for instance, surprised me by its cleanliness. Perhaps a strange thing to note, but it made me realise that once upon a millennium or two ago, the crumbling temples of Rome and Greece were once gleaming white marble, and not quite so ancient.

But perhaps more worthy of note, and more general, was the fact that outside of downtown, DC is a thriving, vibrant place with a huge population of young people, and a massive selection of bars. Adams Morgan's main drag, just a hop skip and a jump from the yuppiedom of Dupont Circle, has a heady mixture of hip bars, greasy pizza joints, street art and vintage clothing. And H Street North East, close to the home of my friend I was visiting, is undergoing a renaissance from deprived, almost ghetto area into the coolest place to party, with sushi and dancing, indoor mini golf and a clutch of uber-cool cocktail bars that you wouldn't even know were there during the day.

And of special note: E Street cinema - the kind of much-loved arthouse theatre that you wish every filmhouse could be, smelling deliciously of fresh popcorn, in place of the cleaning-liquid sanitisation of your average multiplex.

But above and beyond all of this, the rain. Oh, the rain. Pretty much non-stop from the time I landed until the day of my departure, nothing marked my stay in the federal district more than the deluge of water beneath perpetually grey skies. I hear that the Smithsonian and the Monuments are quite a sight in the sunshine, but when you can barely see across the Mall... the experience just ain't the same.