washington dc

2017 Travel Review

My biggest trip this year was not that far in physical distance but represented a major change in my life.  In February I moved in with my boyfriend which was exciting and, as it turned out, not too dramatic!  But I have been on a few more interesting journies this year too.

March

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Victoria and Albert Museum Cafe

In March, I received an early birthday present from my mum in the form of a trip to London.  We took an early(ish) train down there and headed to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which I always seem to end up at when I visit our fair capital.  We left early so that we could see a bit of London, mainly just the walk from the V and A to the train station but still…

April

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Manhattan from The High Line

April 3rd this year was my 30th birthday so we took a special trip to America. We hit New York checking and Washington DC.  Highlights include checking out The High Line (an old railroad turned park), taking a trip out to Brooklyn, $4 a slice pizza, The Capitol Building which I fell in love with, and The Postal Museum (no, really, I love stamps).  The major lowlight were a three day migraine :(, the torrential rain, and being harassed by a waitress for not tipping her enough.

July

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Arthur’s Seat

After a big (expensive) trip to the US we spent our summer holiday in a very rainy Edinburgh.  I guess it was classic British summer weather but it was still quite miserable, we were soaked as soon as we arrived.  We managed to climb up to Aurthur’s Seat, eat sushi, and enjoy a stroll through the Botanical Gardens so not all bad.  Also got to see my sister and niece!

October

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National Art Museum

For my mum’s birthday, which is in December, mum, sister and I took a trip to Riga, Latvia in October.  Anyway, it was very cold but enjoyable.  We visited the National Art Museum and the, slightly less cheerful, Museum of Occupation.  The Eastern Bloc countries had such horrible experiences in the second half of the 20th century!  Riga has a lovely old town to explore, and I recommend crossing the river to visit the National Library.

November

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Sunset over Greenwich Observatory

I finished my 2017 travels the same way I started with a trip to London.  We celebrated boyfriend’s birthday there in November.  Another holiday, another illness befalls me. Not really an illness but I had period pains throughout this getaway that seriously undermined my enjoyment, and put me in a slightly grumpy mood.  But we got to visit the Greenwich Observatory and see a Planetarium show, checked out a bunch of museums, bought expensive chocolate at Fortnum and Mason, and experience my first crushed avocado with poached egg on toast.

 

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New York Vs Washington DC

I guess New York City is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the USA, apparently it gets 50 million visitors a year.   Washington DC was also full of visitors when I was there recently, but it seemed like most of those were domestic tourists and kids on school trips.  They are both incredible cities and worth a visit, but they had very different vibes. Manhattan is densely populated, and the constant bustle of people gives a sense of excitement but also a feeling that the city is moving around you.  There’s definitely a lot to see and do.   Washington Dc on the other hand is much more laid back affair.  The people here are an odd mixture of suit-wearing officials heading to work, and t-shirt wearing families heading to the museums.

Incredible Architecture

New York                                                                     Washington DC

Both cities have incredible architecture and buildings.  In Manhattan, the Empire State Building is a real landmark, but one you could easily walk past on ground level.  It’s only impressive from far away or high up.  A trip up to the top of the Rockerfeller Centre is a great way to see it.  In New York it’s all about height, One World Trade Centre is the tallest in New York mainly due to it’s spire.  It’s the main structure in the rebuilt World Trade Centre, it’s height of 1,776ft is a reference to the year that the US signed the Declaration of Independence.  In Washington DC, these are buildings of governance.  The Library of Congress was founded in 1800, and is the largest library in the world.  The library has three buildings, the oldest is the Thomas Jefferson building.  The main stairs have figures of little boys representing the different occupations like musician, astronomer, student etc.  The frescos on the ceiling and walls represented the arts and sciences.

The Suburbs

New York Washington DC

New York                                                                       Washington DC

Obviously, most people heading to New York visit Manhattan, for good reason.  But I was pleased that we could get out to Brooklyn and see something different.  There was greenery in Prospect Park, and sand and sea at Coney Island.  There’s space to breathe in Brooklyn when the city gets a little too much for you.  In Washington, we took a trip to Georgetown which is a nice, slightly gentrified, centre.  Both Brooklyn and Georgetown are pretty hipstery.

The Landscape

New York                                                                       Washington DC

In Manhattan, a lack of vertical space meant people very quickly started building upwards. Even the apartment blocks loom over you, and the city constantly impresses it’s grandeur and reputation on you.  There’s a real mixture of the old and new.  New skyscrapers are constantly being built and now there are many areas where the buildings all crowd each other.  In DC, the landscape is much more open.  Here the government buildings are the tourist attractions. Each one is still a working building but they seem to have to lot more breathing room so you really get a good look at each one.  Really shots of Washington make more sense in landscape rather than portrait.

Food

New York                                                                   Washington DC

Well these pictures are pretty similar!  These are both big cities, full of lots of different immigrant groups meaning lots of different foods. Obviously, if you wanted to just eat MacDonald’s you can, but we were looking for something a bit different.  I don’t eat meat so in Europe that can just straight away rule out entire restaurants.  In the US, veggie food was easy to come by, but it was still nice to visit places that specifically cater for us types.  New York has more deli places where they sell food by weight I would guess, and just has more of everything generally because it’s much more densely packed.

Street Art

New York                                                                  Washington DC

You could call this street are or just weird stuff you find on the street…New York definitely had more of that.  For no reason there were some dog photographers in the middle of Chelsea.  Of course they have the bull on Wall Street, and now the little girl opposite.  Around Times Square there are a bunch of odd colourful animal statues.  In Washington DC, there was one or two colourful additions but lacking some of the mad whimsy of their NYC cousins.

 

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Washington DC- The Mall

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It was a pretty grey day when we arrived in Washington DC, and wandered along The Mall.  The pointy Washington Memorial is pretty noticeable from anywhere on the mall, and surrounded by American flags and cherry blossom trees.  The obelisk was finished in 1888 to honour President George Washington.  The Memorial has been closed since December 2016 (until 2019) to fix the lift system.  I did managed to get a few comedy selfies.    Collages21

Heading due West you hit the Reflecting Pool and then the Lincoln Memorial.  The Lincoln Memorial is more what you would expect from a Memorial than the Washington one, but then takes a bit more finding.  It’s a Greek style, columned building, inside there’s a larger than life (actually he was pretty tall) statue of Lincoln and panels of Lincoln famous speeches chiseled into the walls.  Apparently, Martin Luther King Jnr gave his ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ here in 1963.

Day 52

And, of course, we also caught a glimpse of The White House!  We were a little disappointed at first because there was something going down and security had roped everything off.  We don’t think it was anything too exciting, more likely to be an important visitor arriving or leaving.  So we wandered down the rest of The Mall and then back again.  By the time we got back we could get a lot closer, and enjoyed some of the protests outside.  I seem to recall that one guy kept banging a drum or something extremely annoying, and I felt quite sorry for the security guys having to listen to it all day.

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Washington DC- The Botanical Garden

Day 51

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On a whim we popped into the Botanical Garden in Washington DC.  We are strolling past the Capitol Building and wandered in.  It’s free admission, and not huge so it was a fun 30min detour.

 

Some of the areas were closed when we were there, I think they were refurbishing bits.  Inside the Conservatory there are different areas for the different climates, like the tropics, desert, and Mediterranean.  There is also a section for medicinal plants, endangered plants, and a primeval garden recreating the Jurassic era (complete with little dinosaurs).usa2

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Washington DC- Places to Eat

Busboys and Poets

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Busboys and Poets was were we went for my birthday lunch.  We got there are 12:30pm on Monday and it was packed, it looked like it was full of conference people so I’m not sure how busy it is normally. We just went for burgers, and I got a nice Jasmine Green Tea and it was pretty good.  It has a fun arty vibe, and there’s a little bookshop where I bought a feminist book.  It’s that’s kind of place.

Teaism

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Teaism, as the name would suggest, is a tea cafe. They reference The Book of Tea on their website, I wrote a review of it on my craft blog.

The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life.
-The Book of Tea

They do also do food but we only went for afternoon tea.  There are three in DC, we went to the Lafayette Park one.   I got a green tea, and had mochi and ice cream as a yummy snack.  I wish we had these kinds of places in the UK so that I could have sampled all the tea on the menu.

Los Cuates

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Los Cuates was one of those places we wandered into in Georgetown when we were quite hungry and I was very in need of a bathroom break.  I think it’s a chain but it was nice.  It was still pretty early and the place was quite quiet.  We got given a free batch of homemade (I assume) tortilla chips rather than free bread.  I got spinach enchiladas which, as you can see, was a huge portion with rice and beans.   At about $11 it was one of best value meals we had.

Ethiopic

Day 7

My first taste of Ethiopian food at Ethiopic didn’t disappoint.  I ordered the strange Ethiopian tea which I can’t remember the name of.  But it tasted herby, and was nice when weaker but a little too much for my delicate palate when it got stronger.  There are a few different veggie options, I can’t remember which one I originally ordered but the waitress suggested the veggie sampler instead.  The sampler was huge, there was Gomen (collard green), Miser Wot (split lentils), Kik Aletcha (yellow split peas), and Dinish Wot (curried potato).  And the odd porous cloth it was served on was actually bread!  You eat with your hands, using the bread to mop up the food.  It’s messy!

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