*Writer’s Note: Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those negatively impacted by the blizzard. It seems our trip was planned strategically, or maybe the weather was strategic. Not sure which. Let’s just say DC knew us two Texas gals were not prepared for a blizzard. Now … let’s get to the recap!
As is customary, here is our airport shot before we board our flight:
We flew in to Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., which is located just a few miles from downtown DC.
Of course, we called an uber (because uber is life and that’s what we do now) and he took us to our hotel: The Westin Washington D.C. in City Centre. Nice staff, clean room, free Wi-Fi. We were good.
Except for the hunger pains. Since we were in the heart of DC, we decided to explore. After walking about a block or two, we stumbled upon Pizza Autentica, which has locations all over the DMV. The pizza was good and got the edge off, so we continued our trek downtown. We decided to stop into Maddy’s Taproom for some beer and football – how Texan of us. There were plenty of screens and the atmosphere was cool. We didn’t order any food because we only planned to have a quick drink before ubering to our next destination.
That was Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. In case you’re not familiar, Madame Tussauds is home to wax figures of celebrities, athletes and in this case, all 44 presidents. We had visited wax museums in other locations, but this was our first DC experience, so we found it unique. It was actually kind of fun. There’s just something about standing next to life-size wax figures of celebrities that brings the goofball out of everyone. Case in point:
We also played around in the “White House,” ya know, getting our Olivia Pope on. We must say we look pretty darn official!
After our wax museum fun, we returned to the hotel to get ready for our first night in DC. But what to do? Where to go? We didn’t have a planned itinerary, so we just did whatever we wanted. We’d heard great things about the U-Street Corridor, a popular and cultured neighborhood in Northwest DC that offers bars, restaurants and music. All things we’re into – so U-Street it was.
We’d like to divert and take a moment to share our Uber DC experience. The pros: our drivers were a friendly, cultured bunch. There was Rohan from Sri Lanka, Samuel from Nigeria and Belal from Afghanistan. We chatted with them about things such as the best international airports, small U.S. towns they’d visited (surprisingly both of our hometowns made the list) and why Arlington, Va. is worth some independent exploration. The cons: don’t know if this is just a DC thing, but there’s this option for an uber pool. Don’t remember having that option in New Orleans. We always just selected the cheapest option since there were only two of us. Well uber pool means you can carpool with as many as two other people. Not a problem until the uber driver tries to pack four grown adults with heavy coats, coffee and any of their other belongings into a Chevy Cruze. Not to mention it slightly increases the length of your trip because you may have to wait to pick up/drop off the other passenger(s). But for what it’s worth, choosing uber pool helped us save 40 percent off our total uber charges for the weekend. So, use uber pool at your own discretion.
Now, back to U-Street.
We were excited to try Marvin, a restaurant with a rooftop lounge created as a homage to the legendary singer Marvin Gaye. It was packed! We opted to wait for seating downstairs near the actual restaurant. As we were waiting, we watched at least a few dozen people scurry up the stairwell to whatever fun awaited them at the top. Men, women, all ethnicities. It was a cool vibe at Marvin.
We were finally seated at our table. The dining area is a bit small and narrow and dimly lit, but didn’t feel crowded. The walls were decorated with art, including some pictures of Gaye himself. We heard a few of Gaye’s tunes playing in the background, so that was cool. The food we selected (chicken and waffles for Kim; Marvin burger for Val) tasted good and was cooked well. Though expectations for the specialty cocktail drinks (names which are also inspired by Gaye: i.e. “Distant Lover,” “Mercy Mercy Me”) were high, they were just … okay. Val opted for the Peachy Keen and there was nothing really memorable about it.
Fat full from dinner, we decided to walk it off on the U-Street Corridor. After a few blocks, we wanted to rest our feet (and find some warmth) so we stopped into a little spot called the Tap and Parlour after hearing the music playing from the outside. The place immediately emitted a chill vibe. There was no cover and we were able to secure a high table right near the bar. There was a DJ playing rap and r&b classics – both old and new. Our kind of music. We decided to go get a drink at the bar – and this is where the Tap and Parlour lost points.
It was a busy Saturday night … and there was one bartender. Yes, one. And lots of thirsty patrons. So we waited (mind you, we visited the bar separately so one person could save the table). We both waited. After flagging ol’ boy down to finally order, we had to wait some more – for him to take other people’s drink orders, make them, forget their order and come back and ask them again (yes, this happened). Once the drink was finally in hand, we paid and bid the bar adieu. We would definitely not be coming back to the bar. We enjoyed our drinks, danced a little and peaced out.
We were greeted with snow this morning. Light flakes, nothing major that would stick, but it was nice to experience a little winter in DC, especially considering it was 70 degrees in Houston just a couple of days before.
We had complimentary full day passes for the Big Bus Washington DC tours, but first things first – we had to eat lunch. We remembered seeing a particular restaurant the night before and decided to try it out for lunch. The reviews were all great.
Our lunch destination: Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. The name alone just makes you hungry, right?
Upon entering, we were greeted kindly and taken to a beautiful dining room – seriously, everything was white and pristine. Luckily, we came right before lunch time so there was hardly anyone there. Our waiter Eric was awesome. He explained the menu items and drink specials and answered all of our questions. After we told him we were travel bloggers, he suggested some sights we should go see and gave us tips on when to go and the best way to get there. Service was excellent.
And now for the food. Everything, and we do mean everything, was delicious! Even the bread selection was good. How often does that happen? And thanks again for the complimentary desserts! We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. (not pictured: 4-cheese mac and cheese – literally so good we ate it and forget to take a picture)
Somehow, we managed to avoid the itis (the sleepy feeling you experience after eating a good meal) and did some exploring on foot. We walked near the capitol building and … then the weather kicked in! We had to stop by the vendors on the side of the street for a hat, plus some affordable souvenirs. Then we headed to The Willard Hotel, our pickup spot for the bus tour.
We started the bus tour a little late – considering the last bus left at 4pm. But we were able to see a few historical landmarks and sights. Fair warning though – the bus doesn’t slow down or really let you off to see the sights, so you have to be swift and clever with the picture-taking. But we got a few shots.
Our bus tour guide was late getting us back to the drop-off point, so we decided to hop off near the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, which is something we planned on visiting anyway.
It was freezing cold, but well worth it. We took pictures of the Washington Monument, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and of course, the MLK memorial. It was truly a great experience visiting the MLK memorial, especially during MLK weekend. Click here to read more about our experience there.
We walked block after block taking pictures, and then … it got later. And colder. And well, then the feeling in our fingers and toes began to leave us, so we called an uber to save us. Shout out to Victoria and her heated seats!
We decided to warm up at our hotel’s bar and have a couple of drinks.
Now, we had big plans to visit Orange Anchor for dinner. We had looked at the menus and already decided what we’d order to eat and drink. We got ready, called our uber and arrived at the restaurant … only to find out it was closed. [insert several sad emojis here] Talk about disappointed. Even worse, we really didn’t know where we were, everything in the close vicinity seemed to be closed or closing and we were starving by this point.
So we did what anybody in our situation would do. We asked the security guards where we should go eat. One of them suggested we try Madam’s Organ. We weren’t so sure about the name, but he said it was open late so we googled it, looked at the bar menu and decided it was either that or the McDonald’s down the street. So we got yet another uber and headed to Madam’s Organ.
There was a $3 cover, and we were greeted with a crowded downstairs with loud music. So we headed up the narrow, steep stairwell which led to an upstairs bar and stage where they were doing karaoke. It was a small space, but we were able to find two seats at the bar. The crowd was a diverse group yet again – all ethnicities. That’s one cool thing we noticed about DC. Everybody seemed to be able to party and socialize together without too much drama. Judging by the crowd and the way people were throwing back shots, we figured we’d better order our food, eat and head out before things got too crazy.
So we each ordered a beer and some nasty bar food. We say nasty, because, it’s bar food. What do you expect? Sure enough, when the food came, it lacked flavor and seasoning. Something tells us people don’t frequent this place for the bar food. However, we must say we did enjoy the karaoke. Some of the people actually had some talent. But after we ate … it was time to go!
Lesson for the day: call restaurants before we go to make sure they are actually open. Apparently, websites lie.
We awoke to even colder temperatures. *This was the beginning of the “bad weather” everyone in DC had been warning us about and telling us how lucky we were that were heading out that afternoon.
We woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But soon, disappointment reared its ugly head again. We had planned on visiting the Gallery of Art at Howard University, but the campus was closed for the MLK holiday. We also didn’t think we’d be able to make it to Georgetown Cupcake to try their famous cupcakes (hey, this was important to us!) We also thought we’d try Orange Anchor again, this time for lunch. Only to find out they didn’t open that day until 4pm. Our flight back to Houston was at 5pm. This wasn’t looking good.
However, we still had our free passes to the Newseum, so we thought this would be the perfect time to check it out. Since we’re both journalists, we were very excited. It’s a huge museum of seven levels with news, history and tons of exhibits.
Here’s your chuckle for the day. When you request an uber, the only info you’re given about the car is the make and model – no color. So when a BMW pulled up at the hotel, we opened the door and hopped on in. We thought the women’s shoes in the front seat and bag in the back was odd – and a bit rude, considering he was picking people up, but whatever. Guess we didn’t notice the driver’s bewildered look until he said, “wrong car.” It didn’t resonate. So he said it again. “WRONG CAR.” Then, simultaneously, we looked to the right to find a confused girl standing at the door of the hotel. Then it hit us. We had hopped in the wrong car. The driver was, in fact, not an uber driver, but simply there to pick up his girlfriend. That explained the items in the car. We swiftly apologized and hopped out. Meanwhile, the valet guys were cracking up. One valet told us that was the second time that happened that day.
Our actual uber BMW pulled up a second later. Hey uber, maybe, you should consider adding the color of the car as well when people reserve. It would help. Thanks, Two Girls Who Travel.
Anyway, we’re happy to announce we were not disappointed by the Newseum. We were able to touch an actual piece of the Berlin Wall, see front page covers for newspapers all over the world and visit the special civil rights exhibit titled: “1966: Civil Rights at 50.” (The exhibit will be on display through Jan. 2, 2017) The civil rights exhibit explores the events of 1966. The images, videos and artifacts are powerful, disturbing and moving. It’s definitely a must-see if you are in DC any time this year.
After we left the Newseum, we walked literally across the street and had lunch at The Capital Grille. Now, usually we don’t do this, (we try to visit restaurants we’ve never visited before on vacation) but this was a restaurant we were familiar with, having two locations in Houston. But it’s good, it was within walking distance and we knew it was open!
Service was sub-par – honestly we don’t even remember our server’s name, but the food was delicious. It’s always important to end any trip with a good meal. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags and catch our very last DC uber to the airport.
Overall, our trip was fun. Though everything didn’t go as planned (does it ever), we still enjoyed ourselves and we definitely would like to return and explore more of the DMV!
Think you missed anything from our travels? No worries. Just search the hashtag #ValandKimTakeDC on social media.