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A Weekend in Washington D.C.

Two weekends ago I took a trip to the capital of the United States to visit Donald Trump Washington D.C. Another state ticked off my list (we’ll not get technical about this because apparently Washington D.C. isn’t actually in a state of America), I’ve now visited Virginia on top of the other six states that I’ve already been to, most recently Boston, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Washington has been on my list for a while but it’s a trip full of sightseeing, culture and history, so that’s something you need to be in the mood for when you visit D.C. However, we did get to see the student-ish side of Washington which I loved and made the trip so much better.

It was the Martin Luther King Jr bank holiday weekend and a very apt time to go to Washington and visit the very man’s monumental statue and to stand in the place that he gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. 

How we got there and where we stayed

On Saturday morning, we took the 10am Greyhound bus from Port Authority, New York to Union Station, Washington D.C. The bus journey was just over four hours long with a fifteen minute pit-stop in New Jersey. 

This was my third Greyhound bus journey and although they don’t seem to be getting any shorter, I have no complaints about the bus company as of yet, so would definitely recommend traveling with them in and around the US.

When we left New York it was starting to snow, and we drove through a lot of snowy weather in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware (I won’t be including these drive-throughs as visits to these states, I’m not that bad). We happened to leave behind a very snowy New York however, and missed the first proper day of a snow-covered Manhattan. 

When we arrived in Union Station, it was very different to Port Authority station. The architecture is very much like the rest of Washington – grand, old, grey, lots of marble and very fancy. We took an Uber to our hotel in Georgetown which was a 15 minute drive away from the bus station.

We stayed at the Melrose Hotel, Georgetown, just a ten minute walk from the Mall area where the Monument, Abraham Lincoln Memorial and museums all are, so a very good location.

The area of Georgetown is also very picturesque with lots of shops, restaurants and bars and a great place to explore. The hotel staff were very friendly, the hotel very modern and clean and is definitely somewhere I would recommend to stay if you are visiting Washington. 

Day One – Saturday

We arrived into a very rainy Washington around 2.30pm and checked into our hotel straight away. After getting settled and the lay of the land, we took off into Gerogetown where our hotel was based to find the famous stairs from the Exorcist movie.

Before this, we stopped off at a famous cupcake cafe called Baked and Wired. The street around the cafe was very quiet, but once inside it seemed that everyone in Georgetown was in this small cafe. I’d recommend the vegan Oreo cupcake, but I would definitely share as the two of us couldn’t even get through one cake. 

We passed the Stone House – a random thing to see in D.C. but not very noteworthy – on the way to the famous stairs. It was dark and wet by the time we got there which added a tone of eeriness to it, but it was quite amazing to see in person, and climb them afterwards. It’s quite a popular tourist spot with lots of people coming and going to take photos. 

Exorcist Stairs Georgetown

We then wandered further around Georgetown and stumbled upon a student bar called the The Tombs which is situated in a basement and was packed out so we had to go next door to the rather posh 1789 bar. The clientele in here were much different, mostly men in suits and people that I guess work in politics. But at least I got to have a fancy cocktail. 

Later in the evening we took an Uber to an area of Washington called Adams Morgan which is a lively, student area of the city. We first entered a dive bar called Madam’s Organ (it took me a few hours to work out that this was an anagram of the area) and we didn’t leave for another few hours as the drinks were $3.25 a double and mixer – we felt like we were in an alternate universe, being used to New York prices. If you ever head to D.C. and want a fun night out, I would 100% recommend this bar. They had live music all night, changing the singer after every two or three songs. The decor is very dive bar and South America which suited it completely. 

After one too many, we made our way across the street to a very lively Irish bar (what else) that we were sure would be showing the Conor McGregor fight. After quickly realizing I was the only Irish person in this heaving Irish Shenanigans bar, I noticed it was probably the most Irish-y American-Irish bar I’ve been to yet with signs written in Irish, slogans that reminded me of home and the bar staff with Irish-themed t-shirts too. The music also helped. 

After all 40 seconds of the McGregor fight, we headed to the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl at 1am. This famous chili diner has seen famous faces such as Barack and Michelle Obama grace its tables. The place is open until 4am on the weekends and we managed to grab the last table even though it was 1am. I very much enjoyed my very mild chili, and would definitely recommend going if you’re heading to D.C.

Ben's Chili Bowl

Day Two – Sunday

I woke up on Sunday with a little bit of a hangover (what an understatement) and dragged myself to breakfast in Georgetown. I had researched beforehand for good brunch spots (you know me) and to be honest, D.C. didn’t really have much avocado toast to offer.

We ended up in a French café called Le Pain Quotidien and I had (believe it or not) sunny-side-up eggs, avocado and toast (poached eggs don’t seem to be a big thing in America). It was actually really nice with smashed avo on the toast and then sliced avo on top. It somewhat cured the hangover a bit.

So Sunday was to be a full day of seeing the sights that Washington had to offer. We headed to the Mall and started at the bottom from the Abraham Lincoln statue. From there, we went down to the Reflecting Pool and took a photo of the Monument in the distance, of which you can see my creative skills below:

Reflecting Pool Monument

From Abe, we walked along the names of the missing from World War One, through the Mall until we found scooters when the walking got too much after ten minutes.

Little hint, getting scooters to travel around the city was probably the best thing we did. It cost 29p per minute and allowed you to get around the tourist attractions so much quicker. There were lots of different companies offering Scooters but we stuck with Spin the entire time. We didn’t spend much time on them on Sunday but just about the entire Monday.

Abraham Lincoln Memorial

We spent a little time in the American History Museum and saw the first ever American flag and learnt about the American National Anthem. From there we went back to the Mall and had a walk around the World War II memorial, up close and personal to the Monument and then over to the big man’s gaff.

To be honest, the White House was a bit of a let down for me. They had blocked off the road across from the gates, which I’m guessing is for the benefit of Trump as I’ve seen photos before of people standing right up by the gates. It was so far off in the distance that it looked quite tiny. Nothing much compared to Buckingham Palace but maybe when I eventually get invited to the President’s Garden Party (when Trump isn’t president) I’ll see how big it really is.

The White House

From here we hopped back on our scooters and made our way towards the Capitol building. It was very deserted around here and by the Library of Congress as it’s closed on Sunday’s – something to note that we didn’t know. We quickly snapped some photos as it was baltic by this point and headed to a pub to grab some warm food and a warm drink to heat up. It was back to the hotel after this to get heat back into our bones and watch some of the Green Bay Packers game (yes, I’m so American).

Capitol building

For dinner, we headed out late to an Italian restaurant in Georgetown called il Canale. There were three or four other Italian restaurants next to this one down a little side street which seemed to be a mini Little Italy of sorts. They had a lot of press coverage lining the walls and the restaurant was huge with almost every table filled. We weren’t overly hungry so ordered a large main between us, washed down with an Aperol Spritz.

Day Three – Monday

Check-out day and I was determined to find a good breakfast place before it was time to go. I came across Founding Farmers online and also had it recommended by a few people who had recently visited D.C.

When we arrived at 10am it was a fifteen minute wait, but very rapidly the waiting area was filled with people coming and going to put their name down for a table. It was insanely busy which is always a good sign. I of course had some avocado, poached eggs, toast and smoked salmon. I also had one of the nicest mochas I’ve had in a long time. I would definitely recommend here for a spot of brunch, but may be worth booking first.

Founding Farmers

From breakfast we hopped straight onto two scooters and scooted the whole way back to the Mall over to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial as it was Martin Luther King Jr. day after all. It was very busy as was expected, but we had a look around and then back onto the Scooters to tick off everything we had left to see before our bus back to New York.

Martin Luther King Jr

We then scooted into the city center and saw the majority of it before stopping off at the colouful Culture House (for the ‘gram) and then to Love Alley that also had some cool graffiti (also for the ‘gram) before ditching the scooters after a whole 90 minutes on them, grabbing coffee to warm us up and then grabbing an Uber back to the hotel to grab our bags and head to the bus station.

Culture House

The Verdict

It was a quick three days in Washington D.C. and although there was a lot more to see in D.C., it just had quite a cold, touristy feel to it. There was no real atmosphere around the sights and it was quite a negative vibe since his royal highness Donald Trump was residing in the nearby White House.

I would definitely go back to the outer areas of Georgetown and Adam’s Morgan as they had more of a vibrancy about them (and the $3 double gins might have something to do with with).

It’s a good place to learn about the history of America and see a lot of the sights and tourist attractions that you’ve seen on TV forever. The most surreal part of it was the Abraham Lincoln memorial. I’ve seen it countless times on TV and in movies and it was quite something to see it up close in real life.

From Forrest Gump, Independence Day, Die Hard and National Treasure, some of my favourite movies are set in the capital, but I didn’t quite have the courage to start running through the Reflecting Pool shouting “Jenny”.

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