Washington DC Trip: Day 5

Today was our last full day in DC, and it was a good one. We began by going to Caribou Coffee, a place we’ve never been to before. The coffee was ridiculously hot, but it wasn’t bad. Sharon remarked that the interior looked a little like Montana’s. So true.

Our first major stop was supposed to be the Jefferson Memorial, but we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at a large fish market! It was actually pretty cool to see – so many varieties of fish, shrimp, and other seafood, including some absolutely massive crab legs! We looked around for a bit, then started walking in the general direction of the Jefferson.

Caribou CoffeeSeafood MarketJefferson MemorialJefferson MemorialSharon on Tidal BasinTweeting on the water!

It wasn’t too much longer before we arrived! There were far less people there than at the Lincoln, and thankfully, only one or two tour buses full of kids. It was fairly impressive, but perhaps less so than if we had seen it before all the other memorials. We walked around but our eye was drawn by the paddleboats (or pedal-boats) out on Tidal Basin. We decided to walk over to the rental desk and join them. It turned out to be a good decision – the paddleboats were only $10 for an hour! While we were out on the water, President Obama’s helicopter flew overhead, as did a couple of Marine choppers.

After a quick ice cream after our hour was up, we set off for U Street to visit the famed Ben’s Chili Bowl. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and was visited by President Obama himself! In fact, there’s a sign inside that lists the people who eat for free: Bill Cosby and The Obamas. Sharon and I each ordered a chili dog, and we shared chili cheese fries. While eating, a local came over and pointed out that I was sitting in the exact spot that President Obama did when he visited the restaurant! So cool and the food was great!

Ben's Chili BowlMack at Ben's Chili BowlBen's Chili BowlGeorgetownGeorgetownSharon with Cupcakes

After lunch, we came back to the hotel to change into some fancier clothes, and then went to Georgetown to do some shopping. It was ridiculously hot, but we trudged on (well I did, Sharon was fine). We didn’t buy too much, but I got some Dean & Deluca mugs that I had been wanting, and Sharon bought a new purse.

Our dinner reservation was at Hook, a high-end seafood restaurant in the heart of Georgetown at M Street and 32nd Street (you can follow them on Twitter: @HookGeorgetown). It was definitely the fanciest eatery we visited this trip! We had to ask about some of the kinds of fish, but that didn’t really help in the end – Sharon’s Lingcod was quite tasty, but my Moonfish was mostly raw. When the waiter said “pink” I thought he meant like Salmon! Ah well, I ate most of it, and now I know. Everything else was great though.

Dean & DelucaDean & DelucaHookMack @ HookLingcodMoonfish

We walked back along the waterfront, which was really busy. Been relaxing mostly since then, trying not to think about the fact that we are going home tomorrow! I’ll be posting all our photos once we’re back.

Washington DC Trip: Day 2

Our first full day in Washington was a busy one! Sharon had checked before we left home to see if there were any advance tickets available for the Washington Monument, but there weren’t. That left us with one option: lining up at 7am to get tickets. We woke up just after 6am and made our way to the monument (taking the very efficient Metro). Part of me thought that Sharon was the only tourist crazy enough to line up so early but sure enough, there were about a dozen people already in the line! I should have known better than to question her!

In our rush to get there however, we didn’t have time to stop for coffee. As we had to wait an hour and a half until the ticket office opened anyway, that gave me lots of time to find a Starbucks and return with coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Before long, we had our tickets in hand and went to line up at the Washington Monument!

We made it to the front of the line for the 9am tour, just ahead of about six tour buses, thankfully. It’s pretty cool that you can go up to the top of the Washington Monument, and once you’re there you have a clear view of many of Washington’s major attractions, including the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House. It was very cool, and the staff were all so welcoming and entertaining – it was definitely a highlight of the day.

Walk-upsWashington MonumentYay tickets!Sharon touching the monumentMackSharon & Mack with the Washington Monument

Next we made our way to the World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Constitution Gardens. It all looks relatively close together on the map, but make no mistake, we walked a lot. There were tons of tour groups at each memorial. I think my favorite was the Lincoln Memorial – it was just so impressive. We also found the spot on the stairs where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic speech, marked by the words “I Have A Dream”.

After the Memorials, we made our way back toward the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Once we got there however, we decided it probably made more sense to get some lunch first. We wandered toward the office buildings, passing the Old Post Office and the J. Edgar Hoover (FBI) Building, eventually spotting Teaism. Continuing with our good timing, we just beat the lunchtime office crowd, and managed to snag a seat inside. I ordered a Chicken Bento Box, Sharon ordered the Chicken Udon soup, and since it was a tea place, we shared an Iced Black Tea. Everything was pretty tasty, and Teaism proved to be quite popular – the line was out the door for most of the time we were there (they do both eat-in and take-out). On our way back to the museum, we decided to check out the Old Post Office, taking the free tour up to the top of the clock tower. Compared with the Washington Monument, it was a bit underwhelming.

Sharon @ WW2 MemorialMack @ Reflecting PoolMack @ Lincoln MemorialVietnam War Veterans MemorialChicken Bento BoxTeaism

We spent most of the afternoon inside the National Museum of American History, visiting all three floors. There was lots to look at of course, including a couple of relatively new exhibits. One was the “Star-Spangled Banner” exhibit, and the other was the “I Do Solemnly Swear” (pictures from Obama’s inauguration). I really enjoyed looking at all of the shots from that event. The Lincoln exhibit was a nice complement to our visit earlier in the day, and I also liked the “Lighting a Revolution” and “America on the Move” exhibits. Sharon was excited to see Julia Child’s kitchen. We would have spent more time in the Pop Culture exhibit, but it was packed with tour groups of kids.

Museum of American HistoryInside the Old Post OfficeMack with C-3POSharon with the Sex and the City laptopMuseum of American HistoryWhite House Cup

By the time we were finished at the museum, we were both getting pretty tired. Up since 6am and walking almost non-stop since then was starting to take its toll! We decided to walk over to the National Mall to sit for a while before going for dinner. We did some people-watching, and tried to imagine the 2 million people who where there for Obama’s inauguration. At one point, Sharon remarked “Jogging – Washington’s Official Sport” – there were definitely a lot of joggers passing by (all day actually).

We hopped back on the Metro, and made our way toward Chinatown. We still had a bit of time before our reservation, so we walked around the area, passing the Verizon Center and many familiar logos (though interestingly, many of them had both English and Chinese signs). Eventually we walked to Proof, one of the restaurants Sharon had picked out. At first I was a little worried that we were underdressed, but it turned out to be fine (not nearly as awkward as our Gramercy Tavern experience in NY). We decided to go with the Charcuterie and some appetizers, in addition to a variety of 2oz samples of wine. Sharon will be writing all about it later, but I can say that we really enjoyed it. The cheese and meats were fantastic, as were the appetizers (spicy meatballs, pork confit, and gnocchi). It was a great dinner!

Chinatown GateStarbucks in Chinese!ProofInside ProofCharcuterieSpicy Little Meatball

We briefly considered walking over to the Jefferson Memorial afterward, but decided to come back to the hotel to rest instead. The weather today was great – warm and sunny but not sweltering or unbearable. Hopefully it’s more of the same tomorrow when we’re off to the Capitol Building, among other places!

You can see my photos from the Washington Monument here – the rest of today’s photos (nearly 250) will be uploaded later!

Washington DC Trip: Day 1

Yay we made it to DC! Sharon and I started our adventure early this morning, leaving Edmonton bright and early at 7 AM. It was a chilly morning back home, so we were definitely looking forward to some warmer temperatures in Washington. We flew through Toronto, and happily the flights were uneventful (though Sharon didn’t enjoy the turbulence on the small plane from Toronto to Dulles). We took a taxi from Dulles International into Washington, which was expensive but stress-free and somewhat relaxing. Our driver told us we were lucky as the traffic was relatively light.

We arrived late this afternoon at the George Washington University Inn, located in Foggy Bottom. The area is kind of like Old Strathcona, but with lots of walk-ups and much more greenery. Upon check-in, we were informed that we had been upgraded to a large suite for no extra charge – always a good way to start off! We took a quick nap, and set off for Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

George Washington University InnGeorge Washington University InnMack in GeorgetownGeorgetownOld Stone House

I used Google Maps to locate the nearest one, which turned out to be closed when we got there (as it was inside a food court of sorts). That was just as well, because it allowed us time to walk through Georgetown, eventually making our way to the location at 1335 Wisconsin Ave. We marveled at the little shops and cafes inside old houses along M street. It’s a little like Whyte Avenue with less traffic, more pedestrians, and much older buildings. We stopped at IceBerry, which serves frozen yoghurt (Sharon tells me the cold treat is really catching on in DC lately). We decided to share a small strawberry cup, with blackberries. It was good, but we both agreed it would have been better with strawberry chunks in it!

When we finally made it to Five Guys, we were both famished! There was an interesting mix of patrons inside the restaurant, including groups of young people and guys in suits. Sharon ordered a single cheeseburger, while I opted for the single bacon cheeseburger. We also split small Cajun fries. After a short wait, our order number was called out and we retrieved the brown paper bag containing our meal, grease stains already starting to seep through it. The burgers and fries really hit the spot, however! I particularly enjoyed the fries, which were not overly spicy. Sharon couldn’t resist filling a small tray with peanuts, and was happy that we had started our trip with a “dive”.

IceBerryFive Guys Burgers and FriesMack at Five GuysCheeseburger from Five GuysSharon at Five Guys

After dinner we made our way back to the hotel, stopping at Gap to get me a dress shirt (I packed dress pants, but totally forgot to pack a shirt to go with it) and Starbucks for a coffee. M street was definitely quieter after dark than it was earlier, though I suppose it is Monday. The busiest place seemed to be the Haagen-Dazs!

We walked quite a bit this evening, but nothing compared to the amount of ground we’re planning to cover tomorrow! You can see the rest of my photos here.