Monday, January 27, 2014

DC Recap Part I

Terry and I woke up bright and painfully early for our 6:45 flight to Baltimore. Luckily, Southwest had a direct flight to Maryland, AND Terry was able to book his flight using points. My doctor has cleared me to continue flying until 34 weeks, but he did recommend compression socks for the long trip. I purchased some on Amazon for far less than I’ve seen at drug stores and received some super sexy looking tan stockings in the mail the day before our trip. And actually, they were fantastic. Lately, sitting for long periods makes my legs and back ache, but I felt totally fine during and after the flight. I may make compression socks a regular thing for trips like this one!

Anyway, we arrived in Baltimore around 3 pm and took a shuttle, the MARC train, and the Metro to get within walking distance of our hotel. Thank goodness my husband loves public transportation and navigated the entire trip! I would have found myself freezing, frustrated, and likely in tears, but Terry’s planning made the entire thing incredibly easy. We arrived at our hotel around 4:30, checked in (to the Founder’s Suite, thanks to Hilton points), and freshened up for dinner.

Our hotel was the Hampton Inn White House on H Street between 17th and 18th. We thought the location was fantastic—walking distance to the White House and most monuments and the Smithsonian. It was also close to a few Metro lines and on a safe street near several restaurants and coffee shops. We found the service to be spectacular—warm greetings, hot cider in the lobby, and very clean rooms. Plus, you can’t beat an included hot breakfast with plenty of options. The only downside was the cold room. The heater worked to an extent, but since it was far colder than usual in DC, the room was never truly comfortable. Plus, the heater was so loud that at night we had to turn it off to get some sleep. You can imagine how chilly we felt each morning, especially with hardwood floors and a tiled bathroom. Oh, and I would have loved a bathtub. I’ve grown to love baths after long days of walking, so I was bummed to discover only a standing shower in our room. I’m sure we could have requested a room with a tub, though, if we really wanted one.

So the first night, we connected with our friends Fay and David, who have been living in DC for about three years. We took a bus to meet them at Busboys and Poets, a fun restaurant with fresh, creative food and a bookstore inside! In an effort to make up for the day’s lack of vegetables, I ordered a veggie Panini, which was tasty, but Terry’s crab cakes with lobster grits were SO much better. I must have stolen five bites from his plate, and I regret not ordering more crab dishes while we were there. That first night was so fun, catching up with Fay and David and chatting about the crazy cold weather. Apparently DC doesn’t normally get snow that sticks, so we were in for a special treat! (Hey, if it’s going to be that cold, it may as well be beautifully snowy, too!)

David suggested Pitango for dessert. When he said it was a gelato place, I thought the guy was crazy (did I mention it was about 18 degrees outside?), but it turns out they serve incredible hot chocolate, too. And the servers were so fun and friendly, we even asked them to snap our photo—the only one of all four of us from the entire weekend! That chocolate was intense but SO good; Terry ordered the sipping chocolate (almost pure chocolate), I ordered sipping chocolate with steamed milk and whipped cream (basically hot chocolate like we’re all used to, but richer), and Fay ordered the same as I did but with almond milk. Oh, and David ordered gelato, so he really is crazy!

Then Fay and David toured us around most of the Mall in their car, which was a cozy and quick way to see the big sights. The lights are gorgeous at night, and the snow made everything look even more magical. My favorite part was stopping to see the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial close up. 

As almost-locals, Fay and David provided a fantastic overview, complete with the story of their engagement! They’re getting married this July, so we chatted a lot about all their wedding plans throughout the weekend. I loved soaking up all the details and hearing the excitement in their voices; their wedding is going to be incredible!

Terry and I both struggled a bit to fall asleep that night, even though we had woken up at 4 am California time, but we rested enough to gear up for a big day of sightseeing on Saturday. After a hot breakfast, we took the Metro over to Capitol Hill for a tour of the Capitol. Despite arriving a little late (and having to throw away my banana and KIND bar—so sad, but they’re quite strict about no food, even if you aren’t eating it!), we made it to our tour and really enjoyed hearing the history of the building and of Congress. Our tour guide was fantastic and extremely knowledgeable, which made the tour particularly fun.

We then headed back out into the cold for a walking tour of the nearby sights, including the exterior of the Capitol, the Library of Congress (the literature nerd in me fell in love with the giant Main Reading Room, which is only open to members of Congress and those with special permission, like Ph.D. students), the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Supreme Court (we didn’t go inside, just checked out the impressive exterior). 

Despite the cold and wind, I loved our walk and all the sights, but it was time for lunch. Fay and David—and also my friend Kate, who saw we were in DC and sent me a message—recommended GoodStuff Eatery for burgers. Well, well, well, I guess these people know who they’re dealing with, huh? The place was crowded, but not too bad for a Saturday at peak lunch hour, and we had our food within 20 minutes. I ordered the basic bacon and cheese burger; Terry went for the Prez Obama Burger (including Roquefort cheese, bacon caramelized onions, horseradish mayo). Both absolutely lived up to the hype—the soft Brioche bun made me melt, and I loved that the patties were thick. We ordered fries on the side, which were decent, but they’re meant to be dipped in a variety of sauces, all free with your meal. Oh, and Terry got a beer (Good Stuff Brew, very good), and we shared a small toasted marshmallow shake. Everything left me completely stuffed and yet somehow wanting more.

Oh, and I forgot to take a picture. 

As we rolled out of the restaurant, David dropped off Terry, Fay, and me at the White House so I could get my first look. I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I couldn’t believe how white it is! The paint is absolutely pristine, even compared to the snow. Several buildings nearby are whitish, but in contrast they appear dull or off-white. Hats off to the White House exterior cleaning crew! In fact, we noticed repeatedly how clean all of DC is, and Fay mentioned how much she loves that about the city. Everything looks well maintained and nicely cared for, and I saw almost no litter. It was very impressive!

The three of us spent the afternoon checking out the Washington Monument, then wandered into the American History Museum (part of the Smithsonian). Obviously I loved the food exhibit—I got to see Julia Child’s kitchen and read more about her influence on American home cooking. She is also largely credited with helping make wine a staple on the American dining table! I knew I loved her for good reason. J I could have spent the entire afternoon checking out just that small section of the museum, but we pressed on to see an exhibit about the First Ladies (all their gorgeous gowns and china—sadly not much about all their work and influence, in my opinion) and then hopped over to the Natural History Museum to see the Hope Diamond while Terry perused the Ocean Exhibit. Given a longer trip, we would have spent lots more time in museums, but we still enjoyed what we did see.

Fay also took us to one of her favorite places in the city, inside the National Portrait Gallery. The building has an indoor atrium, a large, open space with skylights but protected from the cold (or heat, in the summer). I wish I had taken a photo, but I can see how this space would be a fantastic spot to read, meet for lunch, or simply step away from the bustle of the city. The greenery inside made the place feel cozy, too.

By the end of the day, my FitBit logged 24,700 steps! Almost 11 miles. No wonder my legs were killing me the next day and today. Yowza!

I'm going to continue this recap tomorrow because I'm still on East Coast time, which means it's almost 2 am in my brain. Let's get some sleep!


  1. Ahh my town! Yes, Good Stuff is the bomb!! There is one down the road from me! Glad you had fun, DC is good times :)

  2. I went to Good Stuff when I visited DC because of all the Obama hype, but was kinda disappointed! The aiolis were great but the fries were way too greasy and my burger was nothing special. Maybe they were having an off day!

  3. Another D.C. native here - It's so fun to see what people do when they visit! Isn't the Capitol gorgeous!

  4. My sister lives right next to Busboys and Poets!