Washington D.C. · Day Two

April 29, 2020

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Hi everybody!

As promised, this is a post about the second day spent in Washington D.C. Our AirBNB was less than a block away from Big Bear Cafe, which I grew a small obsession with in the few days we were there. We ran into a Farmers Market while getting iced coffee before a day exploring museums.




As I mentioned in my last posts, and I can touch on in a post about trip planning, when we were planning sightseeing we made one day primarily outdoors and one indoors in case weather was bad. We lucked out with weather the whole trip and kicked off our second day with the Jefferson Memorial near the Tidal Basin.




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One of my favorite things about DC is, in terms of monuments, you can see one no matter where you are. The Washington Monument was the first one we saw when we arrived and we used it as the centerpiece whenever we ventured off the National Mall. DC has an intimacy I'm not used to in Chicago and it seems to be much more my pace.


At the top of my list of things we did on this trip was the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Inside the museum, you receive a small booklet of a victim of the Holocaust and read about their story. The museum starts you on the fourth floor and takes you through time as you work your way down to the first floor. The fourth floor is centered around Germany rising to power. 


Each floor takes you around the floor, down two hallways to the stairs, then down to the next floor. On the third floor is focused on the concentration camps and mistreatment of Jewish people, including a mock train car you can walk in, bunks, and a door of a gas chamber. 
One of the hallways contains the Auschwitz shoes.
Turning down the hallway it is in is not expected and, to me, it was the most overwhelming piece of the museum. 






To lighten the mood afterwards, we visited the Museum of American History with the intent of seeing Dorothy's Ruby Slippers and Prince's guitar. But, the guitar was off display. If you like pop culture and are in the area, this is a must-see. It's suitable for all ages and there's something for anybody. Aside from the ruby slippers, my highlight was the Batmobile. I've been a huge fan of Batman since I was a child, so it was a cool, unexpected, fangirl moment.






Next up was the American Museum of Art. This is home to the presidential portraits as well as halls and galleries of a spectrum of other beautiful pieces. One of my favorites you'll see below is a collection of floorboards from gymnasiums in Chicago schools. 








This picture is kind of junk, but here's Free Throw.

I don't have any photos from it, but we also visited the National Museum of the American Indian on a whim, but it was one of my trip highlights. Through the different floors, we learned about folktales and history. On the main floor, there was live music. It was beautiful.


After we went through three museums, it was about closing time for the rest of them, so we biked toward the National Mall to see the White House up close for the first time, and see the monuments lit up at night.



The National Mall at night and DC at night has a vibe to it that's very comfortable. It's very calming because everybody is just hanging out on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or around the Reflecting Pool. Going through all of these photos was a nice remembrance of the trip and all of the wonderful feelings that came with it.




The next post will be our final day in DC. There were highlights from each day, but as a whole the last day of our trip was my favorite because we visited the Capitol building, stumbled into the Museum of Natural History with time to spare, and, the motivation behind the trip, saw Bloc Party perform their album Silent Alarm backwards. More on that later. :)

Thanks for reading!
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Washington D.C.· Day One

April 23, 2020

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Hi everyone!
This was technically day two since we spent the first day driving from Chicago to DC, but this was out first full day there! This is going to be the first of three posts with each post revolving around one day of the trip to include everything we saw, along with tips I learned on my first significant overnight trip without family.

Also, if you are interested in a post about trip planning, let me know. :)

The first actual day, we drove from Chicago. It took us around 14 hours to get to DC. We ate at The Pub & the People and to be honest, I was ready to go home after a stressful day of driving. I didn't handle the drive, especially the anxiety of being in the heart of DC on a Thursday night very well. But, I powered through and with a good night's sleep, the rest of the trip was a lot better.

Where We Stayed · AirBNB on R St NW
This was my first experience with AirBNB and our room was horrible, but damn did AirBNB step in and do an amazing job with their service. There were stains and dead bugs all over. The host watched us out the window. I got a parking ticket (which was my fault, but added to my disdain of the place.) The location was down the block from North Capitol Street, and outside of the Pub you could see the Capitol building, we were maybe a mile away. We also passed the NPR building during one walk, which was really cool.


How We Got Around · Capitol Bikes
Because we were so close to the National Mall, we biked for most of our trip and if we didn't bike, we Ubered (maybe twice.) For my Chicagoans, Capitol Bikes are comparable to Divvy bikes. They're available at racks through the city and you can rent them for one-ride or up to twelve hours.


First stop was the Library of Congress. It was about a fifteen minute bike ride from our AirBNB and  after finally finding some coffee, we were able to explore. It's located across from the Capitol building, on the opposite end of the National Mall.


Thomas Jefferson's library.

By the time we finished walking through the Library of Congress, we went and ate at HipCityVeg (which I have been craving ever since and is not located anywhere near me) near Chinatown, which we spent a surprising amount of time around.


After lunch, we went to Ford's Theater where Lincoln was assassinated. Some of the inside had been remodeled. The basement is a timeline museum of Lincoln's life (which I am an expert on due to last year's Springfield trip) and the main floor is the theater, which is still an active theatre.







Ford's Theatre is maybe two or three blocks away from the National Mall. We started at the Washington Monument, which was not open to go up into because it was being remodeled. But, it was still incredible to see because it was our first monument of the trip.




Bonus, our view of the White House from the Washington Monument. The Ellipse was closed due to the Navy being present, but we get there on another day :)



 Next to the Washington Monument is the World War Two memorial.




Followed by the Jenny and Forrest pond (or the Reflecting Pool.)


The National Mall trip was completed by a visit with my man, Abe.
Connected by my Illinois roots, Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorite historical figures to learn about. I think it heavily relies on two incredible trips to Springfield, but I do love Lincoln.








On the other side of the Lincoln Memorial is the Arlington Memorial Bridge that leads to the Arlington National Cemetery. We hopped back onto our Capitol bikes and after some trial and error on the streets, we made it.




One of my bucket list items for this trip was to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guards. It was moving and emotional and it was special to be able to partake and witness it.


Robert Kennedy:



Arlington as a whole was a very emotional piece of the trip, second only to the Holocaust Museum. It's overwhelming to witness seas of white gravestones and to realize in the midst that they have corresponding victims, real people that died. It's a lot to take in, but there's nothing quite like it. The Kennedys are also buried here. Robert is pictured above, but we also saw JFK and Jackie O. in their own section with a view.


We biked over a different bridge, crossing through Georgetown to get home, and unexpectedly found the Exorcist steps. They had been on my radar since I found out they were located in the area, but I didn't think we'd be close enough to see them. By a fluke, we were very close and had the chance to walk up and back down them.




My little horror film heart can't take it.
We rode bikes back over to Guapo's of Georgetown because we were starving and also crabby from not knowing where we were at. They had the best fajitas I have ever had, the view was beautiful, and the service was pretty great.


We Ubered back to the AirBNB and that ended our first day! It's been a lot of fun to write this post now six months afterwards because I miss DC a lot. It's the perfect pace for a city and more my speed than Chicago is. I'm looking forward to writing the rest of the posts and reflecting a little bit more.

Three Big Tips from Day One:

1. Make sure to get enough sleep
It's weird not sleeping in your own bed, but it's also important to get enough sleep. This can be difficult when you want to be awake early and there's a lot of excitement, but not getting sleep can leave you exhausted or in a bad mood the following day. We ran into this problem during our first driving day where we left early and didn't get to DC until around 8, with the time change.

2. Have a loose itinerary for each day
We had an overview of each day with backup plans (this goes into trip planning, which I can create a separate post about if there's interest!) For example, we had a day planned totally indoors at museums and a day totally outdoors. We knew we could be flexible with these days and planned it that way in case we had bad weather and couldn't be outside. There are also going to be last minute things you'll want to do that you didn't know about. By having a loose plan of things, there is some flexibility if plans change.

3. Don't plan meals
 This sounds counterintuitive, but other than breakfast we didn't plan any mealtimes or have any restaurants we wanted to visit. This let us eat only when we were hungry and find restaurants we wouldn't have otherwise tried, like Guapo's. We also didn't know the time it would take us to do things, which you'll see in two days when we visit the Capitol. We knew we'd never be far from food and when we did get hungry, it'd be easy enough to find something to eat. 
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