Two weeks ago, we headed to Washington D.C for our final adventure before heading home to Ireland. We were going to stay with my friend Hannah and I was excited to see her again as well as explore D.C as it was my first time there. Conor was excited to visit and although I was a little bit hesitant due to it being ‘Trump town’ however D.C is a gorgeous city full of great food and European neoclassical style architecture. We only had two days in D.C and it makes for a great city break and especially if you know a local.
We left early in the morning as D.C is a four-hour bus ride away and that meant getting up early and running for the Megabus. I dreaded getting on the Megabus again after our horrific ordeal getting to Boston. Megabus is however, the most affordable way to get around the U.S; it does the job and gets you there in one piece. We arrived in one piece thank god and headed to Farragut North where Hannah worked and it’s quite central so we dropped our bags and went to get lunch. D.C has lots of great food options and now that Conor is recently diagnosed celiac, we went to D.C Pizza and it was unreal. I got a veggie and chicken pizza and it was a delicious, healthy flat bread style pizza and it was super cheap as well. I mean by cheap, it was $8 for a whole pizza. D.C is meant to be the 3rd most expensive city in America, however after living in New York for a year I was finding it much cheaper.
Happily full and relaxed, we strolled up 17th St NW towards The White House to see it in person. The weather was also gorgeously sunny and warm, an Indian summer in October, we were blinded on the way to the White House by the sun’s rays. We got to the front of the White House and the NYPD shut down the party, no but seriously, the amount of security in front of it is crazy. Gates, signs and armed guards… it goes on. I see what people mean when they said how small it is up close. We took our pictures in front before Conor happily ran to get one in front of the Treasury building. We strolled around Lafayette Square in the sunshine to get a better look at the political buildings surrounding the White House before heading back to Hannah’s office.
It was nice to be able to walk around and take in the city as that is my favourite thing to do while travelling if you haven’t already noticed. Hannah was a great tour guide as well, filled us in on the local history of Arlington, her neighbourhood while we were travelling back to her house and then headed onto the nearby neighbourhood of Georgetown. Georgetown is bougie and I mean BOUGIE. Think of the richest area and double it, like something straight out of House Of Cards; I imagine that’s where most of the politicians live. We walked across the Francis Scott Key Bridge and admired the sunset and the lovely views of Georgetown University in the distance and the river. Life seems so peaceful in Georgetown or maybe it was just quiet along the riverbank, just us walking along and the odd runner or cyclist (D.C is a very health conscious city).
We stopped to grab dinner in Farmers Fishers Bakers and it was seriously delicious. We enjoyed dinner on the terrace overlooking the river with wine and a white wine and garlic mussel pot with plenty of crispy bread on the side. I highly recommend heading here for dinner if you’re in Georgetown.
We then wandered up the hill towards Ri Ra Irish Pub because when in America…the Irish go to an Irish pub, stereotypical I know but it was good fun although the travelling and the change in the weather was getting to me so I ordered a hot whiskey. I was also starting to lose my voice so of course, alcohol was the answer. This pub was a bit touristy however the craic was 90 as they say and we enjoy our conversations while traditional Trad music played downstairs.
The next morning we arose from our beds refreshed and ready for a day of exploring. The weather was unbelievably hot for October and the sun beat down on us; I really felt like it was June for a moment. We set out, leaving Arlington (Hannah’s neighbourhood) for the city and we ended up in Wicked Waffle for breakfast and it was beyond heavenly. We quickly learnt that D.C is a great food city that caters to nearly every dietary requirement so Conor was in his element that they catered to celiacs. These were the best waffles I have had in a long time; very light and chocolately, they also have outside seating so it was lovely to be able to soak up the sun’s rays early on.
Afterwards, we walked towards The National Mall to get a head start on seeing all the monuments as we were only in D.C for a short time. We passed The White House and walked over to The Washington monument to see it up close and personal. (As we travelled to D.C just after the unfortunate Las Vegas shooting, the 50 flags surrounding the memorial were all flying at half mass, it was a sad sight to see but a nice gesture on the government’s part for the victims and their families). It is a bit daunting to see it like this as I got vertigo looking up the memorial from its base but it is an architectural marvel (if not slightly phallic in resemblance) unfortunately it was closed for maintenance so we could not go up the memorial; we took our pictures and we headed on towards The Lincoln Memorial. I felt like I was getting a good workout as it was a long walk between the two monuments; it was extremely hot but I was taking in all the vitamin D I could get as I knew this was my last chance to get some sun.
We passed The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pools and there was nothing more I wanted to do than jump head first into the pools and cool off because it was reaching 30 degrees however was it was a memorial to the fallen war veterans, I did not do it. We walked around in silence looking at the names and states carved in stone on the monuments. I felt so small next to these walls, witnessing the mass sacrifice these war veterans gave for their country. We continued on towards the memorial and the steps were a huge challenge. They ranged from long and far apart to extremely steep the further up you climb. I was out of breath by the time I reached the top, I won’t lie and extremely hot but thankfully the inside of the memorial was a refreshing change as it was cold and breezy inside. It was crowded with tourists also but I didn’t mind as I was taking a brief rest. The memorial was astounding as the scale of it overwhelmed me. Could you imagine yourself being enshrined as a giant statue? Thankfully it seems unlikely that they will do this for Trump. The crowds were getting a bit overbearing so we took our photos quickly and headed off, back into the sun.
We started walking back down the national mall towards Capitol Hill and the Capitol Building. It was a long walk, 3.0 km to be exact, but I happily strolled along (unaware that I was getting completely sunburnt on my chest and shoulders because it was 26 degrees and the sun was in full force). We sat down to rest on a grassy patch and let the sun sink its rays into my bones and soak up all the vitamin D we could get before returning home to Ireland. We continued onto the Capitol building and took photos outside it and looked in awe upon the national mile and saw how far we came. The Capitol building also has a gorgeous flower garden right outside the front steps and everyone took the opportunity to sunbathe there. We were starving however so we decided to find some lunch instead of sunbathing further.
We walked up to Merzi on 7th St NW and got some tasty and healthy indian food. Think like a salad bar but with indian food and a side of naan bread and I was in heaven. After lunch we got gelato at Pitango Gelato Penn Quarter because it was like a summer’s day and I was on holidays and on holidays, I always want gelato.
We walked back to the national mall to check out some of the Smithsonian museums because their free and there are lots of them. We decided on the National Air and Space museum and it was really cool except you have to pay for the rides and installations so we just walked around the exhibitions and checked it out. We then wanted to go to the natural history museum and the national gallery of art however by the time we got to them, they were closed. They close at around 5:30pm, so by 5:15pm they were being cleared out with people. I was annoyed that we didn’t get to check out more of the museums but then again, that’s just an excuse to head back to D.C for a visit.
We started making shapes and headed back to Georgetown and went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to get tickets for The Washington Ballet presents Russian Masters. Thankfully, they do rush and student rush tickets so we got tickets pretty cheap and if you are nice to staff, they will give you a good seat, but you should always be nice to staff anyways. We also got dinner upstairs in their KC cafe before the performance as the restaurant was closed. It was like a fancy version of a canteen but the food and wine was delicious and the view overlooking the river and Georgetown was just spectacular. We ate while watching the sun set over the river before taking our seats from the performance. I’m not expert on ballet but I was in awe of the dancers and the choreography. It was just stunning to watch them move. It was a 3 part performance so we watch 3 separate ballets overall which was great value for money and with 2 intervals so we had time to process it and stretch our legs. During each interval, we headed out to the balcony to get some air but also enjoy the views overlooking the river once more.
After the ballet, we spilled out of the beautiful theatre with all the other patrons and got an uber to Hannah’s apartment to drink more wine and to tend to our sunburns before getting the bus back to NYC the next morning.
Overall, Washington D.C is a beautiful, clean small city with friendly people so it’s ideal for a short visit or weekend trip. The food is amazing and there are many options as well as tourist attractions and it’s steeped in history. I would highly recommend paying it a visit.
And with that, this is my last travel post on this blog, I hope you enjoyed.