Washington

Well, since I have been posting about our last few various trips, I might as well catch up before falling behind again.

This past Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, we decided for some American history. Two of us girls decided to take the overnight Metrobus from Toronto to Washington, DC. For me, it was my first time in DC, so I relied on D to know the highlights of the area. She had researched the museums and memorial ahead of time and compiled a list of museums that we should visit.



I looked forward to a couple of museums, specifically the Lego exhibition at the National Building Archives Museum and the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. While the first had a nominal fee for students, all the Smithsonian museums are free! However, I was a little bit disappointed: the Air and Space Museum, while good (especially for zero cost), wasn’t as interesting as the ones in Ottawa and New York City, but it could be because I was expecting to see some modern American fighter and stealth planes, but I guess most of them were elsewhere. Sadly, the astro-cosmo viewing wasn’t open at the hours we visited so we missed out on that, and the planetarium (fee applies) was showing the same evolutionary film narrated by Robert Redford that I had already seen in August at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The Lego exhibit was also a little smaller than expected, with models that focus on buildings and projects that had architectural character, although famous buildings like the Eiffel Tower were not displayed. We also stopped by the butterfly garden, which had little butterflies, and the Museum of Natural History, but I enjoyed the Harvard Museum of National History, MA instead. We also visited the National Zoo, which while quiet, had some interesting exhibits (like the towers for the orangutans to cross).



We didn’t actually have time to see any of the memorials and we took few pictures of the landmarks (Capitol Hill, Washington Monument), but we came across some pleasant surprises:

  • God’s protection and His timing: for whatever reason, upon disbarking the bus, we were approached by some driver on the street selling his services, but we were skeptical so we flagged down a cab. However, within a few seconds, we discovered that he didn’t know where to go to get to our destination, so we got out before the meter started ticking. The sketchy driver came back to solicit his driving services; we were reluctant so we headed back to the bus area…when, I realized that I was missing my SLR camera, lenses, my wallet = significance. I initially thought my passport was in there too, but I later realized I had moved it elsewhere. Long story short, we talked to the bus employees and they managed to retrieve it from the bus at the depot and drive it back. Not only that, they told us that the subway was only two blocks away, so we ended up taking the more economical route (saving us probably a good $15). If we had not encountered the strange drivers, I may had not retrieve my belongings at all (since these buses tend to continue their scheduled route). Lesson one: people don’t mind being blunt – I was quite unaccostumed to hearing their constant asking for “reward” money, but they deserved it for their extra effort and safe return of all my belongings.
  • We had no trouble with our accomodations, my first booking with Airbnb.com – it went smoothly and I felt pretty safe in the building/neighbourhood.
  • Walked through a garden of some modern art pieces – it was quite interesting to see modern man-made pieces into a natural setting
  • Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate contained a little bit more of the American history that I was looking for – it contained the house the Washingtons stayed at, and told about George Washington’s personal life, like his wooden dentures, and how he died (caught a cold/infection) with him knowing he was close to his end (had his wife execute one of two wills).

    

  • And of course, the food…

On to the food! So with D researching the museums, I was tasked with finding other things to do, like places to eat. And eat we did – with D willing to accompany me on our food treks. Our first (and last!) stop was at the Eastern Market/the Hill for some AMAZING crab cakes at Market Lunch. I tend not to like crab cakes because they’re usually a salty, deep-fried wad of processed seafood meat. But you could actually see the pieces of crab in these crab cakes. Actually, we were so impressed at the food and the 1/2 tea 1/2 lemonade, that we ordered an oyster sandwich too. We also couldn’t help but smile at Tommy’s service. D was a great food companion, as we were able to share almost everything, and still be satisfied.



To finish, we shared a gelato for dessert. While a bit on the pricier side, the selection was more unique, with flavours like a qunince, and rhubarb. I ended up settling for passionfruit, while D had some milk tea gelato (yes, that tasted like real milk tea). Later that day, we tried a self-serve froyo place, where it was no more than 69 cents an ounce, with free hot fudge. I discovered that froyo tastes best with the original tart taste, and that if you quickly pull down and release the lever, you’ll just get mush. And of course, we piled on the hot fudge.

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Our host’s neighbour also drew us a map of the neighbourhood and placed some recommendations on it. One was a miss at Chix but I can see the potential draw (they missed giving us the sauce so the chicken was a little dry), but the other was nice happy hour appetizers (and wine) at a local wine bistro (Vinotecca). And here is lesson two: Washington folks dress well. I don’t remember feeling so underdressed in a city before.

With our luck (what luck, when God watches over us?), we stumbled across the city’s food festival, with many vendors along a few blocks selling a sample of their specialty items like fish tacos, (lobster?) mac&cheese with candied bacon, and waffle sandwiches (with a line up that felt like a mile long so we skipped that one). Admission was $15 for 10(?) tickets, enough for us to share our samples with each other.

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I was also blessed to be able to eat some homemade Malaysian food, and meet some of D’s extended family, and her extended family’s friends. We ended back at the Hill to shop at the street market and in hopes that the Market Lunch was still open. If it wasn’t closed, we would have missed stumbling upon the pizza joint, 7th Hill. We ordered and sat at the bar, watching the pizza creator put the fresh ingredients into the pizza, tossing it in the air, and placing it into the stone oven. The pizza reminded me of the ones we had eaten in Italy, with thin crust, little tomato sauce, and good ingredients.

We ended our trip at Pounds, local coffee shop at the Hill, with D having a nutella latte with latte art, and I with their smooth house blend top secret iced coffee (they sell beans, but not for their iced coffee) – another accidental find!

Lesson three:Maybe it’s more of an observation than a lesson: based on my time in San Francisco and DC, it seems like people are more open about their sexual orientation in these two cities than all of Canada combined, where it’s openly blessed and practiced.

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