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Trip Report How Not to Do DC in 4 Days

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We've just returned from a long weekend in DC and as many will say, it was a TRIP not a vacation! A few highlights and lessons learned:

1)Fly into National airport if possible....we flew into Dulles and ended up spending a lot of extra time on a bus and then the metro to our hotel. A cab was estimated at $70 each way so we made the decision to trade off time for the expense. Allow 2-3 hours total: an hour to get to the airport, assume security will run slowly, you'll miss the first train to the terminals and your gate will be the last one on the left and you'll be just fine!

2)We stayed at the Westin Grand and it was truly wonderful. The front desk staff couldn't have been nicer, the room was clean, quiet and the A/C didn't make a ton of noise when it kicked on and off during the night. The hotel is a couple of blocks from the Foggy Bottom metro station so we used the metro most of the time into and out of the city but walked and walked and walked and walked. Believe me, the dogs were barking every night.

3)This was not our first trip to DC but the first in a long time (like 18 years). We really thought the Holocaust Museum, FDR memorial and WW2 monuments were special. We also toured the Capitol, National Archives, Library of Congress, Jefferson, LIncoln, Koren memorials and Viet Nam wall. Like so many of my generation, I knew guys who didn't come back and seeing it is sobering. Next were the Smithsonian Air and Space, American History, Natural History and Art Museums. Add to that the Old Post Office, Union Station, Ford's Theater, Arlington National and Folger Shakespere Museums and we were totally exhausted. I agree with MaiTai Tom that while Arlington is beautiful and the changing of the guard is a must see, the American Cemetery at Normandy took my breath away and brought me to tears. It may have been the setting overlooking Omaha beach, the carrillon or the sculptures but Arlington just seemed a little less impressive.
Obviously we crammed a lot in and it was, in retrospect, too much.

4)We grabbed coffee and rolls at a little cafe on the way to the metro each morning. The first day we had lunch at the Holocaust Museum cafe - 2 tuna sandwiches, 1 bag of chips and 2 drinks were just under $30. The next day we just had a hot dog from a street vendor and watched people. On Sunday, we were running a little late to Arlington as the camera battery needed charging, so we picked up sandwiches and had a picnic on the mall. Our last day we walked down to Bull Feathers, sat outside and again, watched all the people. Our dinners were a bit more relaxed. Evening 1 was at Cafe Berlin - good German food with an emphasis on spargel (asparagus). Our server was unaware that white asparagus is the real star but overall, the food was good, service good,and the setting in an old, tiny townhouse was quaint. Night 2 was at the Old Ebbitt Grill - the place was jammed with an hour or more wait. We picked up our pager and took yet another walk around the white house. I had the crab cake and DH had the trout parmesean which he said was really good. Our last night we went to a little place on 15th NW called Luigi's. Its a family owned Italian restaurant in a little townhouse. Huge portions, good wine list and reasonable. I had linguine with crab and sun dried tomatoes; DH had their chicken parm.

5)If at all possible, try to get reservations for drinks at POV. Its the roof top bar at the W hotel. Very chic, hip (not like us) with views that go forever. You'll spend $9-15 for a glass of wine but its like coffee or drinks at St Marks Square...it just 'is'.

6)We tried to visit and see the Cherry Blossoms...unfortunately, due to a thunder storm and high winds the night before we arrived, all were lost. We did manage to "time" our weekend visit with the arrival of 27+nations and delegations for the Nuclear Summit. One party was staying at our hotel but the majority were at the Hays Adams, W and Willard hotels. We had to go through airport type security to have a glass on wine at the sidewalk cafe and security was tight everywhere. Streets were blocked off, dogs were everywhere and the sound of sirens with speeding caravans of black surburbans was an hourly occurance.

Overall, it was a good trip but now I need a vacation to recover!

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