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Trip Report Trip Report -- Thanksgiving Weekend in DC

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The plan originally was to just get away and be by ourselves for the holiday weekend and DC seemed like a good place for that. Peter normally gets off work on the day before at noon, so we planned to join the crowded highways and drive (from Lambertville, NJ) to Baltimore for the night. But a few days earlier, work announced they needed to work till 2, so by the time he got home, we were on the road at 3 PM. Two hours of driving later we had gone 54 miles -- and were now about to join I-95 just southwest of Philly. We thought we had cleverly avoided the worst traffic by going west of Philly rather than taking I-95 through it, but surprisingly the worst traffic was on those roads, and once we got on I-95 it was surprisingly clear sailing! Baltimore was deserted! We checked into our highly discounted room at the Hyatt Regency and walked to The Rusty Scupper for dinner. We had been warned how touristy and busy this place would be as well as crowded and noisy, and just not very good. Well, I think we were our server's only table, so service was very good. There were only a handful of tables occupied in the restaurant -- who goes out to eat the night before Thanksgiving? Everything around the Inner Harbor was deserted. But our food was excellent -- the crab (cream style) soup was simply fantastic and the crabcakes were outstanding. I had a pasta fraviolo with tons of seafood which was quite good. And the atmosphere and view were outstanding. Just what we needed after the drive!

On Thanksgiving morning we did about a three mile walk after just having oatmeal and coffee at a Starbucks (Miss Shirley's was closed for breakfast so there went THAT plan). Other than some sort of "run" downtown, again the Inner Harbor was really deserted, the sun was shining, and it made for a great walk. Then we got in our car and headed on into Washington, with little traffic on the road. We checked into the Fairfax on Massachusetts, where we got a super rate --again, the hotel was quite empty. After showering and changing we headed to Arlington where we had been invited to dinner. Originally we had planned to do our own thing, but when a friend from Buck's County got wind of our being in DC, which is where he was staying with his sister and niece, we of course got an invitation to dinner. It was lovely!

On Friday, we headed to Old Ebbit Grill for breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs -- really great, and a fun old place with a funny old host and waiters. From there we headed out to Hillwoods, the estate and museum of Majorie Merriweather Post, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The collections are pretty amazing, and the day couldn't have been any nicer for exploring the gardens -- Peter had a field day with his super new Nikon camera, particularly in the Japanese gardens. From there we went to the Washington Cathedral -- very nice. And then heading down Wisconsin into Georgetown we stopped when we saw Bistro Lepic and had a nice French lunch. We had a problem trying to make the parking machine on the street work -- it seemed to take and charge the credit card, but wouldn't print a receipt to put on the window. Inside the restaurant, they suggested that parking was free that day and that's why it wouldn't work, but my research had found that DC parking was NOT free on Friday -- I still don't get if Georgetown is different from the rest of DC? But in any case we didn't get a ticket and Peter had called the number on the machine to report it, so we also were armed with an "incident number" in case they had given us a ticket -- which they didn't.

We thought we'd do a little "shopping" further down in Georgetown, but after entering one parking garage and slowly circling the entire thing only to head back out not having found a single parking space, we decided it just wasn't worth it. The streets were packed with people. So back to the hotel for a short rest and then to Kennedy Center for the 5 PM performance of Shear Madness. It was fun -- I hadn't seen it since Boston about 20 or more years ago, and was surprised how current and local they keep it.

After the show we drove back to the hotel to dump the car and had drinks in the hotel bar -- probably the worst Dry Robroy I've had in years, by the way. This was also after we pulled into the hotel valet area, leaving space between us and the car in front, only to have a valet get in that car and proceed to back into us -- pretty hard. Surprisingly there was no damage to my heavy duty rubber bumper, but we were amazed that there wasn't even an apology from the valet who simply kept saying "no problem". But otherwise we LOVED the hotel.

We walked the one block to our reservation at Urbana -- and had a wonderful comfortable booth. (I love being a VIP on OpenTable and I swear we often get better seating because of it). The food was great and the service was nice too. I had wonderful lamb shortribs and Peter had a sliced duck breast that was VERY rare, but he managed to eat it all -- really delicious. Afterwards we needed a walk and did one around the Dupont Circle area -- surprisingly pleasant out.

Saturday morning, we simply went to Starbuck's on the corner and split a scone with our coffees, then headed back to The Phillips Collection right across Massachusetts Ave. from our hotel. Nice collection -- but nothing like the Barnes in Philly. Particularly impressed with the American Impressionists whom we knew little about. Peter did a great job of taking close up pictures of many paintings eliminated their frames. We now have a great collection of wallpapers or backgrounds for our computers. They came out with great detail. We thought we'd skip lunch, but why? So off we went to Paradiso Pizza which was really great (and again, right in our neighborhood). We split a fantastic salad and two smaller pizzas -- a Margarita and a special of cauliflower, feta, and sausage with fresh tomatoes. Really wonderful pizzas.

We got the car from the hotel and drove down near the mall, parking easily on Ohio Drive and walking to the Lincoln Memorial and to the Korean Memorial. Again, some great picture opportunities, but boy was it cold! Back to the hotel to relax in the lounge with a big pot of coffee, doing some internet and communications -- we never signed on to internet for a fee in the room, but it was free in the wonderfully comfortable lounge.

We headed to the Ritz Carlton about 7 and enjoyed a cocktail in the beautiful lounge before our 8:15 reservation in the Westend Bistro (Eric Ripert of LeBernardin fame). This was a surprising place -- the most contemporary, trendy, and somewhat casual restaurant I've ever seen in a Ritz! We were also about the only men in the place wearing jackets. The food was simply amazing. And we had a really great and friendly, helpful waiter. With all the wonderful sounding dishes, somehow we both opted for the strip loin steaks with Japanese eggplant and a tarragon wine sauce on herbed spaetzle, which were just perfect along with our fried brussels sprouts with bacon vinagrette. This was after sharing some wonderful mussels in an jalapeno coconut broth. Nice bottle of Franciscan Cabernet -- which we had first ordered and then decided we needed meat, not fish, to go with our wine!

Sunday morning we met old Naples friends who live in Maryland at Founding Farmers on Pennsylvania Avenue for breakfast -- how delightful. Ordered the beignets and some bacon lollipops first and went from there. Peter had pancakes, and I had a pastrami hash with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce -- you could hear my arteries clogging for miles, no doubt! But it was really nice. We had again been warned this was a very noisy place, but we were seated upstairs in a sort of separated round booth and found the noise level really quite low -- plus I think we beat the big brunch crowd with our 9:30 reservation. The place was semi filled but not at all crowded. We loved this place and understand why it's a favorite of our friends.

We left DC about 10:45 and by our friends' suggestion, headed towards Annapolis on US 50 and up 301 to Wilmington before joining 95. It's a little longer, but quite free of traffic (and tolls). And we did arrive at King of Prussia (where we had to pick something up) less than three hours later -- so felt that was good!

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