Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Travel Girl goes to DC!

Monuments, Politics and Museums.....oh my!

Just got back from Washington, DC. Had a great time. Saw everything I set out to see and more.

Roommate and I left work on time at about 1:30pm on Friday. Since we work about 10 minutes from the Orange County Airport, we had a friend from work take us. That way, we could leave our cars at work for the weekend. Safe and free. :-) We checked in and went through security all in about 10 minutes. Our flight left around 3:20pm. We had a layover in Texas but we were only there for about 20 minutes before we had to board again. Dallas Ft Worth is a really nice airport, fyi! We arrived in Washington, DC at about 12:40am. Took a taxi to the hotel and checked into our room. Since it was actually only about 11pm (CA time), we were kind of hyper.

We stayed at the Courtyard Washington, DC/US Capitol. The ground floor was just a security guard. The lobby is on the 2nd floor. The hotel is new. Just opened in April. It is not in the best area of DC. However, it seems as though they are rebuilding everything in the area and this was just the first thing done. There are other hotels and businesses in the middle of construction. So this may become a better area. The rooms were nice and the decor was good. They have a small market where you can buy food, drinks, sundries, etc. They have computers with free internet and a bar and lounge. While we were there, the bar was not open once. I think they were at a very low occupancy. Another great thing about this hotel is that it is literally steps from the Metro. The Metro station is New York Avenue/Florida Avenue. From there, all the main sites are within about 10-15 minutes away.

The next morning, we decided to walk the city. We walked from the hotel to the US Capitol building. Since we walked, we were able to see the Capitol building from many areas of the city. What a view!

This was a Segway Tour of DC. We were not on that tour. I died when I saw them. They looked so funny. I'm not gonna lie though....after walking miles and miles in the heat and sun, I had the urge to steal one from someone.

I loved this little spot we found. With the flowers, foundtain and Capitol building all in the shot. So beautiful.

From the Capitol, we walked through the National Mall where all of the Smithsonian museums are. We had decided we really wanted to see the National Air and Space Museum. This museum houses The Wright Brothers airplane, the Apollo 11 command module, World War II Aviation, Jet Aviation, etc. It was a really cool museum. I especially liked the information on Women during the Wars. They had information on WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and what the requirements were to be a stewardess. Requirements such as height, weight, race, age, etc. Very interesting stuff!

Smithsonian Castle

Continuing down through the National Mall, we made it to the Washington Monument. We were starving by then and found a little cafe right next to the monument. Not great, but there were not really any restaurants along the National Mall. Going back, I would have eaten at the food court at the Air and Space Museum.

Washington Monument

Right after the Washington Monument, we got to the National World War II Memorial. Very nice. Wonderful views and each state is recognized with their own pilar. There are inscriptions to read everywhere. It's huge.

Here is the memorial with the Washington Monument in the background.

After the National World War II Memorial is the Reflecting Pool. The "pool" is actually more of a murky pond. Ew. But it looks really good in this picture I took!! :-)

At the end of the Reflecting Pool is the Lincoln Memorial. The building is very huge but the actual statue is not that big. It is impressive. There were tons of people there so it was hard to get a good picture without anyone's head in it. Plus, it was sooooo hot and everyone was hanging out in there to try to cool off. Everything was made of marble.

We then walked back towards the Washington Monument. Then we went left towards the White House. It's hard to get a good picture because of the gate and fences. Also, there are tons of people trying to get pictures from the same spot. This was the back of the White House. I thought it was strange that we could see quite a bit of their land. Since you can view the front and back of the house there is not much room for privacy.

From there, we decided to take the Metro back to our hotel. It was hot and we walked ALL of that. We both desperately wanted a shower and a rest. :-)

Here is their Metro. I found it very clean and actually very nicely designed. All of the stations I saw had this same architecture. It was very cool looking. The one problem I noticed is that the stations are few and far between. It is however very easy to navigate being as there is only about 5 lines.

After we showered and rested, we got ready and her cousin met us at our hotel. He has been living in DC for a few years now. He took us to the restaurant where he works, Logan Tavern. www.logantavern.com/ The restaurant is located in the Dupont Circle area. This area was probably somewhere I would not have known to go. But I absolutely loved it. The area was clean and the houses and restaurants were so cute. Loved it. We had a very yummy dinner at Logan Tavern. The ginger calamari and buffalo shrimp were delicious. We had such a good time that we came back for brunch the next day. Mmmm.... mimosas!! Oh, and there is a beautiful Whole Foods Market across the street from Logan Tavern and while we were having brunch, there were some people playing violins. It really made the brunch atmosphere. They played the most random music from the Titanic theme song to Coldplay to Phantom of the Opera. It was great!

Here are a few pictures from Dupont Circle.

Look at the building! I love it.

The houses had lots of brick and stone.

I want this house!!!

After brunch, we walked to Georgetown. The Metro doesn't go there since the residents voted against it. Georgetown was nice. Lots of trendy shopping, cute restaurants, houses, etc. However, since we were not wanting to shop or eat, we got over it fast. I would like to go there again and check out their houses. I've seen pictures that look similar to houses in Dupont Circle. If I go back, I will take a taxi! It was far and really hot!!

We took a taxi to Arlington Cemetary in Virginia. Our taxi driver was awesome! I just had to point that out because it is rare to have a really good experience. He stopped for pedestrians and bikers, did not speed or swerve and was friendly.

Lots more walking at Arlington. There are signs pointing you to everything you could want to see. But it is hilly and long so if you are with someone who has trouble walking, take the bus tour. I saw so many people pushing wheel chairs or walking with walkers, canes, etc. It broke my heart. It was sooo hot too.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The tomb is always guarded. We got to see the changing of the guard ceremony too. There is also a small museum next to the tomb. FYI....out of respect, do not smoke. This guard actually yelled at someone during his guarding and told him to leave. It was intense. Also, if you see these guards count their steps. They do 21 steps then turn around. I counted and it's true!

Next stop in the Arlington Cemetary was the gravesite for President John F. Kennedy. Also, Jacqueline Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. Lines were long to view each gravesite.

After Arlington Cemetary, we were exhausted. We Metro'd it back to our hotel for a shower and another rest. (what? we walked alot!!) Then we wanted to see some of the monuments at night. So we decided to head out to the Capitol building. They were having a Labor Day concert that night on the Capitol lawn. Better yet....it was a FREE concert!

The National Symphony Orchestra performed while we sat on the steps of the US Capitol! Can't say that every day! Very cool experience. Until it started pouring!!! And I mean POURING! We looked like drowned rats. We were not very close to a Metro so it took us a while of running in the pouring rate until we could get to a dry spot. We decided to head back to the hotel since we couldn't really go anywhere as wet as we were.

Right before the rain. :*(

Ahhhh! Our last day here! We decided to go back to a few places we'd missed. Starting with the World War I Memorial. Roommate's cousin told us not to miss it. Most people do miss it because it's kind of hidden. It is also a lot smaller than the World War II Memorial.

Then, we decided to check out the White House again. From the front this time!

They didn't let me in. :*(

One last Metro ride back to the hotel. Then off to the airport. Layover in Chicago. The Proposal on the in-flight entertainment. FYI they totally edit it for content. Luckilly I had seen it before. Loved that movie!

All in all, we had a great time in DC. The sites were amazing. So much history. I got to see everything I had on my list. However, there is still so much to see if I get to go back sometime. Like the other Smithsonian museums for instance! This is a good city to visit if you are on a budget as it is fairly walkable or you can use the Metro for a small fee. All of the sites and museums were free as well. You should definitely put this on your list of must sees.

Washington DC Metro- www.wmata.com/
National Air and Space Museum- www.nasm.si.edu/

Travel Girl TV pick for DC:
Army Wives- I mean, come on. I had to put this. DC is all about the military. Great show by the way!! And as non-political as they can be!! Oh and did I mention the gorgeous boys??

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

DC Playlist

Here it is kids...... a shortened down version of my DC playlist. I would say it's a pretty mellow list. Nothing too crazy. I usually like music I can fall asleep to on a plane ride or music I can stare out of a train to. :-)

DC Playlist

Chasing Pavements- Adele (Love this song! Lot's of soul)
Never Say Never- The Fray (The Fray has great travel music.)
Droplets- Colbie Caillat feat. Jason Reeves (I first heard a live version of this. She just released this recorded version on her new album, Breakthrough.)
Trouble- Coldplay (love this song)
Already Gone- Kelly Clarkson (Her new album is amazing. However....live she is even better! She did a bluesy version of Patsy Cline's Walking After Midnight. Youtube it!)
Dirty Laundry- Bitter:Sweet (This group also did the Lipstick Jungle theme song)
Still- Matt Nathanson (love love)
Not Myself- John Mayer (gotta have some John Mayer!)
Stormy Weather- Etta James (I love the soul in this song. Her old stuff is amazing)
Who’s Loving You- Jackson 5 (I absolutely love this song. I love singing it in the car.)
Sleeping To Dream- Jason Mraz (This is such a sweet song. Love it.)
Haven’t Met You Yet- Michael Buble (the newest song from my boyfriend, Michael!)
Sooner Or Later- Michelle Branch (Michelle is going pop/countryfor her next album. Can't get this song out of my head. Can't wait to hear the rest of the album.)
Yellow- Coldplay
Every Time You Lie- Demi Lovato (Yes...this is the Disney girl. Don't judge! I love this song.)
Please Come Home- Dustin Kensrue (This is the lead singer from Thrice which is one of my roommate's favorite bands. This is from his solo album.)
Better Together- Jack Johnson (I love the islandy feel to his music.)
I’m Yours- Jason Mraz (Great sing a long song!)
City Love- John Mayer (Might be my favorite John Mayer song.)
Mexico- Jump, Little Children
Save You- Kelly Clarkson (This song gets to me. Love it! Kelly is my favorite.)
Where I Stood- Missy Higgins (I love this song!)
Sunrise- Norah Jones (just in case I see a Sunrise!)
Come Home- One Republic
Shy That Way- Tristan Prettyman feat. Jason Mraz (I love when my favorite artists collaborate.)

Now go download all of these songs!!! :-) (You can check out some clips of the songs if you scroll down on the right side of the blog. I have most of them on a playlist for you!)

**What would be on your playlist??

Farewell Travel peeps! I will post again when I get back from DC!!! Leaving in 3 days!