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ElendilPickle Oct 16th, 2011 10:03 AM

The Pickles Visit Our Tax Dollars at Work in Washington, DC
I'm home from church this morning with a cold, so I guess it's time to start our trip report! :-)

We (Mr. Pickle, 16yo PickleDude, and I) planned a fun/educational trip to Washington last spring. We try to travel on a fairly low budget, and our choices for food and lodging will reflect that.

Wednesday, October 5th

We got up very early to catch our ABQ-BWI flight on Southwest. This was the least expensive option for us; we saved at least $100 per person over flying into Dulles or National. The flight left at 6:05 a.m. and Mr. Pickle, who had had to get up pretty early the two mornings before, was pretty much a zombie by the time we reached our hotel.

The flight was packed, but we had seats together which worked out nicely. PickleDude got some sleep before our stop in Houston, where we had some coffee and breakfast and stretched our legs.

We arrived in Baltimore around 2:30 and took the shuttle to the BWI train station, where we bought tickets for the MARC train. At $6/person, this was a fairly quick and inexpensive way to get to Union Station. From there, we used the Metro to get to Crystal City in Arlington; the station is about a block from the Americana Hotel, our home for the next five nights. On the way, we stopped at the Commuter Store in the Crystal City Shops to buy SmartTrip cards. For some reason, you can buy the cards there, but they won't load any money on the cards for you.

We made our way to the hotel and checked in. The Americana is an older property, but it was very clean and the staff was very helpful and friendly. They have an iPad available in the lobby, which was helpful since we didn't bring our laptops, and it takes a long time to do anything online with a Kindle. :-)

We had considered visiting the Kennedy Center for the free 6:00 Millenium Stage concert, but at this point Mr. Pickle had entered Zombie Mode and wasn't up for going anywhere.

obxgirl recommended the Kabob Palace on Eads just south of 23rd St., so PD and I walked the half mile or so and got takeout. He and I tried two of their Wednesday specials - spinach and lamb and lamb with lentils - and kabob-e-kubideh for Mr. Pickle. Everything comes with a little salad, extra veggies, and pita. This was one of the best meals we had on the trip - fresh, spicy, and delicious.

More to come!

Lee Ann

DebitNM Oct 16th, 2011 12:01 PM


Dukey1 Oct 16th, 2011 01:12 PM

The Americana has been there FOREVER and I am glad to hear that it was a good value and convenient for you. Anxious to hear more and thanks for taking the time to post.

obxgirl Oct 16th, 2011 04:23 PM

Looking forward to more of the Pickle family adventures! Glad you enjoyed the Kabob Palace -- it's a hoot. Hope you recover from you cold quickly and keep the travel stories coming...

ElendilPickle Oct 17th, 2011 10:09 AM

After dinner, we got out our Metro directions for the next day and discovered our itinerary was missing. The last place I remembered seeing it was at the train station in Baltimore. Thankfully, I remembered what we had planned to do, where we wanted to eat, etc., and we still had all the Metro directions.

Thursday, October 6th

Our congressman scheduled a White House tour for us at 7:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m. our time - reaaaallly early!), and a Capitol tour at 2:00 p.m. Thankfully, the Americana's continental breakfast buffet was up and running when we staggered into the lobby at 5:45.

There was already quite a line when we got to the White House, but it moved fairly quickly and we were inside by 7:45 or so. We all enjoyed seeing the public rooms in person. The tour is self-guided, so you can spend as long as you want admiring the furnishings. As we exited, we got to see First Dog Bo chasing squirrels across the lawn. He's quite a handsome dog!

We had planned to go to Breadline for second breakfast, but we decided we couldn't pass up Starbucks' $2 breakfast sandwich deal, and we were all in serious need of some caffeine at that point.

Since you aren't allowed to bring anything into the White House except photo ID and a cell phone, I went back to the hotel to pick up my purse and our camera while the Pickle guys walked to the Holocaust Museum. This museum is, IMO, a must-see. Parts of it are difficult to view, but well worth it. The scent of leather from all those shoes has stuck with me.

As you enter, you can pick up a booklet with the name of someone who went through the Holocaust. Mine was Thomas (Toivi) Blatt; I thought his name sounded vaguely familiar, and I finally realized I had read a book about him called Escape from Sobibor. It's a fascinating story.

We decided to go to Le Bon Cafe for lunch; Mr. Pickle wanted to take the bus so we could see things along the route, but we had a hard time figuring out what bus would take us there. After walking more than we really wanted to, we were running out of time and ended up having lunch at Potbelly near L'Enfant Plaza. This is (I think) a local sandwich chain, and we thought it was quite tasty and reasonably priced.

One of our Congressman's interns took us on our Capitol tour. He'd only been there a month, but he did a good job. We did show PickleDude a few things that we wanted to make sure he saw, like Peter Muhlenberg's statue. We got to sit in the House gallery for a few minutes, but most everyone was already gone for the day.

If you can't get a personalized tour, the Capitol Visitor's Center is very nice. The film they show is pretty interesting.

We had hoped to get into a guided tour at the Library of Congress after the Capitol, but a delay at the Capitol didn't let us do that. Mr. Pickle decided he still wanted to see the Kennedy Center, so we took a DC Circulator bus toward Penn Quarter, where we took advantage of that day's Scoutmob deal to get 50% off dinner at Capitol Q BBQ.

We were delighted to discover a free shuttle bus picks up passengers at the Foggy Bottom/GWU metro stop, saving our feet. :-) We enjoyed the river view and spent a few minutes watching a free dance performance which consisted of three people whipping their hair back and forth, minus the Willow Smith soundtrack. :-))

Lee Ann

rncheryl Oct 17th, 2011 12:56 PM

PickleDude: Love it!

ElendilPickle Oct 17th, 2011 03:23 PM

Given that he's 16, 6'2" and still growing, PickleBoy didn't seem appropriate anymore. :-))

Lee Ann

europeannovice Oct 17th, 2011 04:27 PM

Great report so far. Keep it coming.

amwosu Oct 17th, 2011 04:34 PM

Enjoying your report Mrs. Pickle.
Ann Marie

annetti Oct 17th, 2011 05:27 PM

Very enjoyable report. Thanks for posting.

Maudie Oct 17th, 2011 11:35 PM

Hi Lee Ann, this is so good, plenty of ideas already. Keep it coming, sounds like the Americana will stay top of our list. Did you have the breakfast there?

Thanks for sharing,

tchoiniere Oct 18th, 2011 03:52 AM

Sounds like a great trip so far. The IPad is new since August. They had a Mac computer there when I was there. Definitely a good hotel.

The breakfast was sufficient and decent. Pretty much bagels, muffins, fruit and cereal but they keep replacing it.

ElendilPickle Oct 18th, 2011 02:21 PM

Hi Maudie,

Yes, we ate breakfast there every morning. Everything was fresh and replenished regularly. If you'd be happy with the kinds of food I described, it's a good deal.

I forgot to include URLs for Thursday's restaurants. Potbelly is and Capitol Q is

Lee Ann

Maudie Oct 18th, 2011 04:09 PM

Great, sounds perfectly fine for us. At least its something in the tummy to start the day without going looking for food first thing.

With reference to the free shuttle from Foggy Bottom, what's the route, where does it take you to? I'm an Aussie so I am just starting my research and getting my head around things.

RoseDC Oct 19th, 2011 03:54 AM

@Maudie, the free shuttle @ Foggy Bottom are small reddish colored buses run by the Kennedy Ctr that go only directly to the Kennedy Ctr door & back. You should find more info (hours) on the KC website. If you get on the KC email, you get many offers for cheap performance tickets in this economy. Get separately on tge Washington Opera's e-list on their site & ditto on unimaginable deals on tickets. Another area to consider staying any teen would love is Bethesda on the red line.

RoseDC Oct 19th, 2011 04:11 AM

One more idea for Maud: Hol Inn Central used to be bad neighborhood, now fine. My TX pastor would stay here because a seminary friend owned it & let him stay free. You'll see it's rated higher than regional HIs by guests.
At bottom of pkgs page, note AAA rates. This gets get discounts thru US. Be sure not to travel just after a govt funding deadline, as all mite shut down--museums too. House only funds a couple months at a time now.
Pickles, State Dept reception rooms also worth touring near foggy bottom. Sorry it's raining today.

obxgirl Oct 19th, 2011 05:00 AM

>>Hol Inn Central used to be bad neighborhood, now fine. <<

>>This gets get discounts thru US. Be sure not to travel just after a govt funding deadline, as all mite shut down--museums too. House only funds a couple months at a time now<<

Rather odd comments.

kayd Oct 19th, 2011 08:48 AM

>>Be sure not to travel just after a govt funding deadline, as all mite shut down--museums too. House only funds a couple months at a time now<<

Definitely ignore this comment, as our Congress has a habit of making short funding extensions of unpredictable duration, and there's no way one could make international travel plans around them.

LowCountryIslander Oct 19th, 2011 11:33 AM

Great report! Can't wait to read the rest...sounds like the Pickle family had a terrific time! :-)

Maudie Oct 19th, 2011 04:17 PM

Rose, thanks for your suggestions and information. I will check out the sites for the concert tickets. Not really sure what you mean by some of the comments though. Bethesda on the red line with a teen??? As for Washington shutting down, well we will have to take our chances with that one.

Looking forward to more from Lee Ann.

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