What do you do when the Internet goes out in your apartment? If you're like most people, you get it re-established. Not me. Nope. I go in search of alternatives. I haven't figured out whether that's because I'm naturally curious or just in no mood to deal with Verizon.
Regardless, it turns out that I live right around the corner from a great place to surf the Web. It's called CyberStop Cafe, on 17th and Church St NW. I'd passed it many a time walking around the neighborhood, but until my DSL woes I hadn't stopped in. Now I'm hooked.
There are two ways you can surf: computers are available for $15/hour, or you can bring in your laptop and surf for free. The wireless bubble also reaches to the sidewalk, where tables are placed for you to see the local sights while you browse the world.
The fare is pretty basic. You can readily get your coffee products, and there is all manner of baked sin for you to indulge in (today they have pumpkin pie, lemon merengue and something that looks pecan-ish). A single cooler contains Coke products, Perrier, bottled water and Naturals juices. There are also wrapped sandwiches, bagels and fruit. It's clear this is more about the computers than about the food.
As for the feel of the place, it's a lot like your friend's townhouse where you went to parties every other Saturday during college. You know, the place owned by three guys with the disconnected bathtub on the first floor for beer and questionably clean couches everywhere. Ok, there's no bathtub, but there are couches and upstairs in addition to the computer rentals there are small tables for you to park your laptop or study materials for as long as you care to hang out. I've been here for hours at a time and people were here when I arrived and there when I left.
All in all, I find this a great place to hang out and read email, do work, read the paper, study, etc. One word of caution: the upstairs area is generally meant to be a quiet space. I've witnessed a few arguments about this, occasionally heated. The wise will have their conversations downstairs.
Incidentally, I started writing this in the cafe when their internal wireless network went down. In trying to connect again, something on my laptop got screwed up, so I'm finishing this at my office before going back home. No reflection on the cafe, although I will mention that the obviously flustered person who was trying to get everything working again was very nice.