|Hubs settling in at Old Ebbitt Grill|
Those of you who have kids will understand what a huge deal it is to go on a vacation without them. You feel, by turns, unbelievably free, inconsolably heartsick, and a wee bit guilty for having so much fun without them.
Hubs and I caught an early, direct flight straight to Reagan International, then took a cab to our sweet English basement apartment, which we rented via Airbnb. The place was two blocks from Union Station, offering easy access to the city. It also boasted a foyer, living room, full kitchen/bar (with a washer/dryer), bedroom, and a decadent bath (big whirlpool tub, giant walk-in shower, etc.). Within a block, there were several great restaurants and a grocery store. We chose wisely!
After dropping off our bags, we headed straight for Old Ebbitt Grill for lunch. We had reservations, and I was glad we did, because two huge groups entered the restaurant right before us. We were seated quickly, and we tucked in to a steak sandwich with fries (him) and a cup of clam chowder (me). The restaurant has a long and storied history, and it's located very close to the White House, so it's popular among tourists. We sated our hunger, then hit the National Mall.
|The National Mall|
|I'd never seen the FDR Memorial before!|
The next morning, we'd originally planned to rise early and head to Eastern Market for browsing and breakfast. But we slept in! We poked around our neighborhood mid-morning and found what was to become our daily breakfast haunt - Batter Bowl Bakery. They had beautiful pastries, big fruit bowls, and quiche. I think we ended up breakfasting here every day of our trip, just because it was so delicious and convenient. (What can I say? Morning is a tender time. I want things to be easy until 9 a.m. or so, especially on vacation!)
We gobbled the golden puffed pancake, a breakfast sandwich, and big cups of strong coffee, settling into our cafe chairs to plan the day. We decided to start with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
|We loved Batter Bowl Bakery!|
Afterwards, we ambled over to the rest of the gem and minerals gallery - brilliant sapphires, diamonds, rubies and more. They were so shiny and pretty! I kept noticing these small, very round smudges on the glass in front of the gems. It took me a while to realize what they were - nose prints! People were so hypnotized by the glittering stones that they kept leaning in closer for a better look, until their noses actually touched the glass!
|The Hope Diamond definitely winked at me.|
Then we took a quick spin through the insect zoo (sponsored by Orkin - hilarious!), stopping to get up close with a few live tarantulas. We saw some of the dinosaur/fossil collection, but as that part of the museum is currently being remodeled, I don't think we got the full effect.
We got a bit hungry, so we stopped in the museum cafe in the basement for a quick sandwich before moving on to the Ocean Hall (with its blue whale suspended from the ceiling and its GIANT squid laid out in a long glass case) and the mammals (Hippos! Zebras! Lions! Polar bears!) and human origins galleries.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner! We had reservations at the nearby Zaytinya - a Greek restaurant - so off we went. We loved this place! We tried tons of small plates - crispy Brussels sprouts, a fish special, tender little keftedes, plus tons of pita bread. I had a glass of Lebanese wine, and we finished with dessert - the Turkish coffee chocolate cake, which was gloriously gooey inside.
We rode the metro back to the apartment. Though we did LOTS of walking while we were in the city (in part because the weather was so lovely while we were there, and in part because we wanted to see everything), we found the metro to be very easy to use. You can buy a Smart Trip card at kiosks in the metro stations, loading them with funds. Then, you just use them until the money runs out. You can re-load the cards with funds as necessary at the kiosks. Easy. If WE can figure it out, anybody can!
More to come . . .