Fun fact, Washington D.C does not reside in a state.
We set off to the white house. Much to our disappointment the view is not great. Firstly it is waaayyy smaller than on telly and secondly, with the build up to the inauguration there is scaffolding all over the show. So we check out the other side with the giant Christmas tree surrounded by smaller trees, decorated by all the states of America. It wasn’t the most thrilling start to the night. But we did get to see the ‘Marine One’, (aka the presidential helicopter), take off and land several times which was pretty cool. It’s our first night so I am super excited to see and do everything immediately, it is the child in me that makes me impatient. So we head off to see the Washington monument. Now I would totally recommend this. The views of the city were stunning, there is a hushed sense of pride from the Americans, you can feel it as you wander between the flags. It is also a great opportunity for Mr.C and I to plan our route for the next day as you literally can see all the monuments from there.
From here we decided it was food time. We started walking and suddenly realised everything was extremely quiet. There lacks a certain buzz about town vibe, but we are confident we will find it somewhere. We see the cutest little bar that seemed rather busy, ‘The Hamilton’. Wood everywhere, ceiling to floor situation but it seems to be popular. Being typical unobservant Brits and desperate to quench our thirst, we skip the queue head to an empty table and get served immediately. Turns out there’s quite a lot of heritage here, and a live band. Our night was looking up. We have some cocktails and start enjoying the good old American food. Tater tots, mac n cheese bites, grilled cheese, all were super good. Few hours later we head off fully on our way to a fun filled night. However this was not to be. We regret leaving as soon as we do as there isn’t another bar for miles. After aimless wandering we end up in ‘Lucky’s Bar’. It’s a fun over styled sports bar with about 15 people in. The buzz of the night wearing off and with tiredness setting in, we resign ourselves to one last drink. This was my chance. Since my last trip to USA I have been trying to prove to Mr.C that there is a drink called ‘black & tan’, a combination of Guinness and beer. He has never believed me so, much to his disapproval I order one. Point proved when it arrives, I drink it happily and it brings a satisfying end to the evening.
We are up early the next day, filling up on pancakes, eggs, sausages and fully enjoying the copious amounts of ‘half&half’ I have added to my coffee. Our plan for the day is simple, we want to see everything. So we walk down the mall enjoying the sights, remarking on this wonderful museum that displays the front page of every newspaper from around the world for that day. I mean the person who does that job is up super early and must be so informed before the rest of us have even got out of bed.
We make it to our first stop… the Capitol building. Barely any queue due to our early start, but we need to go through security. They only go and take my deodorant off of me!! Now Mr.C is all like, “why would you bring that?” I’m sorry but most girls I know bring deodorant with them if they know it is going to be a long day involving excessive amounts of walking. It was a costly mistake I later find out after having to pay $8 for new deodorant. Can we just take a minute for that to sink in …… $8, 7.50 euro, £6.50, for deodorant!!! How are people not continuously humming in America??
I digress, long story short, I fully recommend the Capitol building. It was free, included a guided tour, informative, educational and just plain fun. It’s a must is you are in town, just leave the deodorant at home.
After wandering through the library we hail a taxi and head to Arlington cemetery. The atmosphere here is indescribable. It is an incredibly humbling place. The sheer size of it and no matter what direction you look you, there is a never ending sea of tombstones. An incredible sight we got to see, (due to the season), is every grave with a wreath on it. We were told that people volunteer at the beginning of the season to ensure every grave has one. It is a wonderful idea that no matter who you are, where your from, what your religion is, someone will visit your place and you remain in someones heart. We slowly make our way to the top visiting the grave of the unknown solider and the Kennedy graves.
Once finished we make our way back and completely over estimate the distance between the cemetery and the Lincoln memorial. I think it is fair to say the taxi driver was pleased and we should of known it wasn’t far when he said, ‘no meter lets just call it $7’. I notch it up to a lesson learned, but clearly place all the blame with Mr.C. It is a known fact my geography skills aren’t great, that is his area, however he tries to convince me that it was value for money.
We are now at the Lincoln memorial surrounded by a sea of tourists. There are some weird children sliding down the smooth part of the steps. Normally I would encourage something like this and I would want to join in. But when everything has sharp edges and is made of marble, common sense kicks in. Unfortunately it takes one chubby child to hurt themselves, landing on the marble flooring a bit hard, ending all their fun. Allowing me to concentrate on the wonderful view of the reflecting pool and Washington memorial.
It is a stunning vista. Also a wonderful point for selfies. Although I am fully aware I only get to do a handful with Mr.C before his patience wears out, so I must time them correctly. We spend maybe 30-40 minutes here. Walk around the whole perimeter of the memorial and put it on the must see if you come to D.C list. It is a 2 minute walk (if that), to the Vietnam war memorial. Here there are war veterans telling their stories, some moving, others make you feel like they just want your money.
We are making our way back to downtown when we see the toot trucks. You know, the cheap tat stools that sell everything from baby grows to suitcases. We have this thing where we collect a magnet from every location we stay in together. So we search for a magnet, then I see it and I can tell Mr.C has seen it too. The realisation evident on both our faces. When you are in New York they do ‘I love NY’ shirts, in Singapore they have ‘I love SG’, well in Washington D.C they have ‘I love DC’. These are Mr.C’s initials and he immediately buys one for me!! I love it!!
It’s late afternoon now and we stumble upon this grilled cheese cafe, order one to share and some tater tots. Dear lord, the size of this tater tot portion is insane. We vow not to eat all of them, but with no will power we forget all about the dinner reservations in 2 hours and consume the entire plate, enjoying every ounce. Needing to walk these off, we make our way back to the hotel through the park, enjoying the wonderfully fresh and sunny December day. Washington is incredibly clean and friendly, and during the day there is just so much to see and do. We do another visit to the White house this time managing to see much more. I ask Mr.C to take a photo of me. “Try and get just me and the white house, turn it vertical,” I say. I can tell he has rushed it but I am so pleasantly full still I don’t care.
It is not until we are walking away that I realise, he has actually taken a picture of some random man taking a selfie. He deflects my jokes regarding this by pointing out something that actually is rather hilarious. All the secret servicemen have badges saying ‘SECRET SERVICE’. We giggle all the way back to the hotel about this, like it clearly isn’t a secret if they are advertising it!
Quick change and we are back off out. This time to meet some family. I am super excited as I haven’t seen my godmother in what feels like forever. We have a lovely meal with them at McCormick & Schmick’s. Starting with a big sharing seafood platter (which was soo good), then several G & T’s later, we skip dessert and confess to our earlier over indulgence.
My second cousin offers to show us some fun lively bars, after our discussion at dinner. He takes us to ‘H Street’. I am already loving this place, I mean basically it is named after me right?? He explains how it is used to be full of crime and rather dangerous but now it is becoming rather ‘up and coming’. We liken it to Hackney but obviously this means nothing to them. We enjoy a beer in a German bar and then some more in a sports bar. All rather chilled and very funky places, but neither have large crowds frequenting them tonight. As we go to leave we see a bus with it’s location sign reading; ‘ emergency, in trouble call police’. We decide the area is perhaps still not as safe as it could be, noting the police have arrived we leave ‘H Street’ and head to Dupoint Circle.
So little tip – if you are looking for a late night filled with booze and dancing, check that congress is in town. Apparently when they leave town so does the party!
We end our night in the ‘Round Robin bar’ at the The Willard intercontinental hotel. The history here is fabulous. We are told how Abraham Lincoln himself used to stay here and this bar is where most of the deals were done regarding politics. The cocktails are strong and worth their money. The entrance hall and walk ways are decorated to the hilt and it is a wonderful way to part with my cousin and his fiance. We get back to our room and once more marvel at the mattress on this bed, debating ways in which we can take it on the rest of our trip.
We wake up late and head to the airport. It’s time to collect our car. Eekk! We complete the paper work and receive the keys, setting off to find our transportation to Chicago.
Oh, its a Ford Fontana! This is a pale metallic blue pick up truck with no cover for the back. We both laugh and Mr.C sends me to change it, (apparently i am better at this sort of thing). It isn’t a problem, the lady gives us new keys. It only becomes embarrassing when a couple, clearly in their late 60’s, early 70’s come in and ask for a larger car. Mr.C and I feel shamed that we have returned the pick up truck in favour of a Honda saloon car. I then have to listen to him state it is just because there is no boot, not due to the fact he currently drives a panda and quite frankly would have no clue how to drive a pick up truck.
Washington D.C done!!! We are leaving Washington, I think this city is beautiful and fully recommend it, but maybe for the older crowd. It has so much history and pretty much all the museums are free, just lacks a crazy night out.