July 6, 2009

The Adventure Continues: Washington, D.C.

It is slightly saddening to write this post, as I truly enjoyed this trip to our Nation's capital; my first and certainly not my last. I have always considered myself a city girl and growing up in a small town has only increased my anxiety for visits to big cities. We spent four days in the area and I still don't feel like I was ready to leave. We packed our days full of the usual stops and tried to get a taste of the city our own way. Most of the major sight seeing spots were less than fifteen minutes (walking) from our hotel, the Grand Hyatt on New York Ave (a hotel we loved, great views of the city). We spent our first evening close to the hotel, exploring a bit and enjoying lunch at Clyde's and late dinner at Tony Cheung's in Chinatown (made-to-order Mongolian style). We woke up bright and early to sight-see the next day, and started off with the hard-to-miss Washington Monument. The weather was great in the mornings, high 70s in the shade, which made walking a breeze. We were surprised to find the city fairly quiet, especially days away from the 4th holiday, but we weren't complaining. After the monument, we headed to the Holocaust Museum (the absolute highlight of the trip for me, a Nazi Germany and WWII history buff). I found the museum to be state-of-the-art, moving, angering, saddening, and eye-opening to say the least. The exhibits were each so special and the museum only took about two hours to experience. I encourage anyone and everyone to experience the museum first hand, there is no way you could possibly regret it. There is even a wonderful exhibit especially for children (titled 'Remember the Children'), who might find it troubling to learn from the permanent exhibit. I even enjoyed this interactive story-telling exhibit and was pleased that the creators thought it important to include something for children too.
By this time we were fairly hungry and had been told that 'Potbelly's' was the best place for a sandwich in the city. It was a great recommendation, we ended up eating there twice :) After lunch we decided to purchase tickets for the double-decker bus tour through the city. I am normally opposed to such 'touristy' ideas, and prefer to explore on my own, but now I am glad to have done so. The tickets were for 48 hours after purchase, so they ended up lasting us the entire time we were visitng-and they covered all of the sights. The highlight of the double decker bus was the ability to take much better photographs, from the higher and very close-up angles. My parents were also thankful to save on parking fees and unnecessary city driving. The bus took us to all of the remaining sights. We were most excited for the Smithsonian museums and the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials. For my father, a U.S. veteran, the wall was a humbling and bothering experience.
We spent the next day exploring beautiful Georgetown. We ended up spending an entire day here, in and out of shops and driving through the gorgeous neighborhoods that make the area famous. My father and I greatly enjoyed walking through a great market on the strip, Dean and DeLuca. We also spent some time walking the canal and visiting the Old Stone House (the oldest in DC, apparently). That night we ate at a French restaurant, Cafe du Parc at the Willard Hotel. We weren't very impressed with the menu choices or the food (compared to the prices we were paying for it). But it was definitely romantic and in a picturesque part of town.
We reserved the entire last day for the Smithsonian museums. We started at the Smithsonian Castle (the center for information on the museums) and then headed to the National Museum of Art. I've taken a few classes on Art Technique and History and have always taken a great interest in the modern styles- we enjoyed both wings. It was the most quiet and least busy museum we visited. We were able to see Picasso, Rembrandt, Seurat, Monet, Manet, DaVinci, Pollack, and Warhol to name a few. After lunch we moved on to the National Museum of Natural History, which was packed! We enjoyed each of the exhibits here, mom and I especially enjoyed the gems :) We had planned on seeing more but a string of bad weather and weary feet led us back to the hotel for rest, time to pack, and dinner. We ate across the street at a place we overlooked, named 'Capitol City Grill.' My parents enjoyed their homemade, award-winning ales and I enjoyed their homemade root beer! They also had good 'ol American food and great service. Our favorite dinner although was at D'Acqua, an Italian eatery with its own fish market! We all enjoyed our meals, but the Pumpkin and Marscopone ravioli was certainly the best dish at our table. And apparently, every Thursday at the Navy Memorial (right next door), there is a free concert and plenty of uniformed Honor Guard men to choose from; we had a great view :)
There is so much I left un-explored there and I cannot wait to visit again. We were blessed with great weather, a great location, and an all-around pleasurable family vacation.

My brother, Nick, and I at Cafe D'Acqua.

The beautiful canal hidden throughout Georgetown.

The main shopping district in Georgetown, a very scenic stroll through the city!

One of the neighborhoods in Georgetown; a one bedroom basement here starts at $750,00.00, wow!

The city from Arlington Memorial Bridge.

My brother and I at the French restaurant Cafe du Parc.

Paying homage to President Lincoln!

The capitol building from afar, taken atop the above mentioned "double-decker bus."

Papa enjoying lunch at beloved Potbelly's.

Standing outside of my favorite destination, the Holocaust Museum.

Our first stop, the Washington Monument!