Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Travel l Washington ( June 26 - 28, 2015)

When it rains, it pours. We were swimming in DC. There was record rainfall with flood warnings. But we didn't let it put a damper on our plans, no pun intended.

Originally, we were supposed to go the zoo, but we were not able to due to weather.
We planned to eat lunch at SUNdeVICH but also didn't make it there. I think it was too far away from where we were. I also wanted to try to get to the monuments after the museum, but it had been a long day. 

Plans change when you're traveling, and you remember that sometimes things happen that are out of your control. The best advice I can give for when situations don't according to plan is to be flexible and open to exploring. Keep a positive attitude and make the best out of it. 



BDL  ➜  DCA 

I've been flying so much that I know airport codes. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing. 

I was able to snag a sweet deal back in January when they were having a sale. I only paid $68 roundtrip. Honestly, it wasn't even a question of whether or not we were going, it was more of when. If I drove to DC, it would have taken me 10 hours in total. That isn't counting any stops, traffic, or additional driving I would be doing while I was visiting. 

This was the first time I flew JetBlue. Previously, I've flown on United, US Airways, Southwest, and mostly American Airlines. I will usually choose based on price. 

It was a short trip to get to DC. It only takes 1 hour on a plane. It felt like we took off, had a snack, and then landed already. 

Security was hassle free going there. When we were trying to go home, we ended up in the TSA Pre line. Apparently I looked suspect without make up because one of the TSA agents did the hand wipe test on me to check for narcotics and explosives. One of my sisters also got stopped because she just recently turned 18 and only had high school identification. One of my sisters said she didn't understand why the ID was a problem since we passed multiple check points before being questioned before entering the actual terminal to go home. 

I also found it funny that everyone from airport employees to shuttle drivers asked us where our luggage was. In typical fashion, I was the overpacker and had the only carry-on suitcase. I ended up checking this because I had to bring some full sized toiletries to for my family. Please note that since our trip, checking bags on JetBlue is no longer complimentary. They now have tiers. This makes Southwest the only domestic airline to not charge for the first 2 checked bags.

I would fly JetBlue again. They give you a snack!! It's the little things. 


We don't have good public transportation here. I only had experience using NYC subway, but I don't do it very often. I have only been to DC once before, and my friend pretty much purchased the tickets for me. I felt like a clueless tourist because it was little confusing to figure out how to use the machine to purchase ticket. Please remember you need one ticket per person, and you cannot share. We found this out the hard way. The lady who was working there also wasn't very nice or really all that helpful.

Besides that little hiccup, the metro is very easy to use. I like the color system instead of the letter system. I think there are 5 or 6 colors. Also, it's very helpful that it tells you how many minutes away a train is. I feel like I never have any idea when trains are running in NYC.

Keep your ticket handy when you're exiting because you'll need to scan it again to get out. 

Where to Stay 

Double Tree Crystal City 
Location  / 300 Army Navy Drive Arlington, Virginia 

Depending on what site you looking at, this particular hotel is rated either 3 or 4 star hotel
Normally I book between a 2-3 star based on price. I also look at things like convenience, location, and amenities offered.

Don't forget about the cookie they give you as a welcome to this hotel! It's yummy.

One thing that I had never experienced in a hotel before was that you have to use your room key to access the elevators. While I understand the security factor, I thought it was a little bit inconvenient that I had to keep my card handy anytime I wanted go anywhere in the hotel.

I decided not to rent a car on this trip because parking costs money. Self parking at the hotel costs $27 per day, and we would also have to park in DC. Parking in major cities tends to be more of a hassle than it's worth. The hotel offered a shuttle which we fully utilized. The shuttle takes you to the Reagan Airport, Pentagon City shops, and the metro. I also liked the fact that the shuttle ran until 11pm.

I don't know what I would have done if this wasn't offered. Since there was 5 of us, it would have taken 2 taxis. Apparently, it's against the law to in Virginia to try to fit all of us into one taxi even if it's a mini van.

This hotel also charges you for wifi unless you are a member of the rewards program. Honestly, I hardly ever use hotel internet because it's so darn slow. I also felt that the price of breakfast was a little expensive.

The room we had was pretty nice. We had 2 double beds and a soft bed. There was a beautiful view from our window. You could see all the way to the Washington Monument. 

I would definitely stay here again. It's a great location. It's only 3 metro stops away from DC. Just be aware that this is not an area that I would advise walking around in. We opted for the shuttle every time even though the metro/fashion centre was only a 10 minute walk.  

Sunday after the downpour 

Where to Eat 

Harry’s Smokehouse Burgers &BBQ     
Location  / Inside The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City 1100 South Hayes Street Arlington, Virginia

According to Google, this is permanently closed. 
I mentioned to the employee this fact. I am not sure how to report that this restaurant is in fact open. I am glad that we decided to go in to see if it was really closed because the Fashion Centre had still listed this in its directory.

What we ate:
  • Jalapeno & Cheddar Fresh Skillet Corn Bread
  • Crispy Catfish Nuggets 
  • Carolina Style Pulled Pork
  • Texas-Style Smoked Brisket 
  • Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sandwich

We ordered the "From Our Smoker" portion and each item is 1/2 lbs of meat, so we decided to share. Our waitress was so incredibly nice. She had the kitchen split them up on separate plates. We would have perfectly fine with eating family style. The catfish nuggets were a little soggy and the brisket could have been a little hotter. I can understand though because we came in close to closing time. I would definitely come back here. My sisters love pulled pork, and this was so good. 


brisket/pulled pork Sides: mac & cheese, mashed potatoes 

pulled pork sandwich

pulled pork w/ mashed potatoes  

Black Iron Pizza 
Location  / 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC

What we ate: 
  • Amante della Carne - San Marazano tomato sauce, Italian sausage, bacon, prosciutto, pepperoni, fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Sapori Complementari - olive oil, gorgonzola cheese, port fig, Prosciutto di Parma, balsamic glaze 
Each pizza will feeds about 2 people. They aren't that big. This was great because we were tired and hungry. The food came out fairly fast. I really liked the Sapori Complementari. The fig on the pizza was almost like a meat. It was something different that I've never had before.  

Sapori Complementari/Amante della Carne

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Location  /  1308 G Street, NW Washington DC

"signature treat, stuffed with vanilla pastry cream and coated with a caramel glaze" 

I had read about in this Travel & Leisure article, and I knew this was a must.  

I had thought that we wouldn't be able to make it here, but I'm glad that we were able to go here. It was easily the highlight food of our trip. 

I can never say no to creme brulee. It is my favorite dessert ever. This doughnut did not disappoint. It had the bruleed sugar on the outside and a custard on the inside. I didn't expect the custard. I liked it because it wasn't too sweet. 

Sine Irish Pub
Location  / 1301 South Joyce Street Arlington, Virginia 

What we ate: 

  • Spicy Fried Calamari  -Lightly battered and deep fried calamari and tossed with spicy cherry peppers and served with a garlic aioli

  • Baked Potato Soup  - Made from an Old Irish recipe with hearty chunks of potato, bacon and onion. Topped with shredded sharp Cheddar,smoked bacon and scallions.

  • Quesadilla  - Black beans, corn, yellow onions, bell peppers and cheddar cheese grilled in a flour tortilla and served with guacamole, salsa and sour cream
  • Irish Breakfast - Two fried eggs, rashers, black & white pudding, grilled tomato and Irish brown bread
  • Beef & Guinness Stew - Slow-braised beef and vegetables simmered in Ireland 's finest
  • Blackened Salmon Alfredo - Pan seared blackened Salmon filet served over fettuccini pasta and fresh vegetables tossed in a creamy Alfredo sauce and finished off with parmesan cheese.
The calamari was tasty. The portion was a little small.
One thing you should know about me is, I love breakfast.
Black and white pudding is also known as sausage. The texture was a little bit different. I liked the black pudding better. I felt that it was more flavorful.

One unique thing in the restaurant,  there was a porthole that said Titanic Belfast to New York. I wish I got a picture of it.

Sorry about the puddles we left.


blackened salmon pasta 

Irish breakfast 

beef & Guinness stew 

Where To Go

Remember that the Smithsonian Institute has fee to go to any of the attractions. Also, the National Mall was under construction while we were there. I am not sure how long that will take before it is pretty again. 

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Location  /  10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, in Washington, D.C. 

I was able to meet up with a friend that was working in the area. It was so nice to be able to catch up. I haven't seen her since October. Did you know there are multiple entrances? I found that out because my friend went through one entrance by the whale, and I came in through another with an elephant. 

I have gone to this museum the last time I was in DC. My favorite exhibit is the one with all the rocks. I used to collect rocks as a child and could have gone the archaeologist route. I also really liked the Hope Diamond. Did you know they mailed it in the regular mail before? 


This picture reminds me of a moving waterfall picture my parents have

Hope Diamond

while walking we took shelter for a minute in here 

US Navy Memorial
Location  / 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC

We stumbled upon this memorial on our way the Air and Space museum. It was really awesome to see all the castings. They were so intricate. It was pouring rain, so I didn't get any pictures. 


National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Location  / on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, is bounded by 
Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive and by 7th and 9th Streets NW

I stopped here because I saw the Amor sign. The fountain there was beautiful too. 

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Location  /  Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington, DC  

This was a pretty awesome museum. I remember doing a report on the Wright brothers in either elementary or middle school. It was a pretty big museum to be able to fit all the airplanes in there. 

I'm really glad that we got to go to the museums during extended hours. We were in the Air and Space museum until just about 7pm. 


this made me think of Jordan Knight



I love vintage posters 


I like to find unique things to take home from places I've been.
I don't know why I didn't start collecting postcards until Kentucky. I have some catching up to do! 
My sister helped me pick out a really awesome 3D one and the pretty sunset one. 

The one thing I always make sure to get is the pushed pennies! One of the things I ask for as a present when someone I know travels. Usually it costs .51 but the ones in the Smithsonian costs $1.01! Also, did you know what each museum has their own coin?! I missed out on the Natural History museum, but my sisters told me it was ugly. Maybe next time I'll pick it up.

Apparently I've started collecting mugs. The Cherry Blossom Mug Set was too pretty to pass up. It was nice that it came in a set because I gave one to other sister who didn't get to go.
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