Published: May 23rd 2012May 23rd 2012
Third stop of the trip was Washington D.C. We stayed with Andrew, Oli’s second cousin (well, they have the same great grandparents). We took the Megabus , it left at 10:30 and took four and a half hours, getting us in around 3pm. I managed to secure another front seat on the top deck. Andrew was waiting for us at the front of the station, which took a while to find as Union Station is huge. Andrew picked us up in his big Mercedes, he offered Oli the option of driving to get him used to driving on the wrong side before our Miami adventure, but he declined the offer. Our first impression of Washington was that it was a very nice, leafy, quiet place compared to the hustle of New York, and that the buildings were not very tall. Andrew later informed us this was because no building is allowed to be taller than the Capitol building, which was about ten stories. Andrew also enlightened me about overtaking on motorways; apparently they do not have rules on overtaking on a certain side. We drove from the station to Andrews place at Adam’s Morgan near
Dupont Circle. It was surprisingly hot and it was only half 3 so we still had time to fit in some sightseeing. We considered booking a Segway tour, but as we already had an excellent tour guide in Andrew we decided to hire bikes instead. A company in Washington DC offers bikes that can be hired from one station and returned to another, as long as it’s within 30 minutes (similar to London’s Borris bikes). It was only $7 for 24 hours and Andrew had an annual pass for the bikes already. On the way to the bike stop we stopped at a Pizza place for a couple of slices. We weren’t overly hungry and didn’t want to spoil our appetite for dinner so opted to share two slices, one was buffalo chicken with blue cheese and one was a meaty slice, between the thee of us (a food sharing theme that continued in Washington), however two nice chaps on the table next to us must have felt sorry for us and donated an unwanted slice of their pepperoni pizza, so we got to experience three different pizzas. After a few minutes walking from Andrews we reached a bike stop
with some spare bikes. I had trouble using my credit card to release a bike as it asked for a phone number and zip code, so Andrew used his. Our bikes were released with the codes supplied – this took Oli and me three attempts the first time. It must have looked like we’d never been on a bike before as we were all over the place for the first few minutes. It seem once you learn to ride a bike you can forget. However the bikes were a great choice. Andrew took us on a tour past the new condo he’d just purchased; unfortunately we couldn’t go in as he can’t move in for another two weeks. Then after a few minutes cycling we arrived at what is known as the Mall, the area with all the monuments, memorials and parks. We saw the constitution gardens pond, then the Vietnam War memorial, the Abraham Lincoln memorial, which sits in front of the reflection pool and the Washington monument. Unfortunately there was no water in the reflection pool as it had been drained for maintenance. Still, the scenes were very impressive, especially as we’d seen it so many times on
TV shows and in movies. We walked a few kilometres around the monuments, stopping to relax in the sun near the fountains of the World War II Memorial. Then we walked over to the back of the White House and took some pictures. Then we walked round the front and took some more pictures. It was very surreal to be stood looking at Obama’s house. We headed to a different bike rack to pick up some more bikes and cycled past the White House on our way back to Andrew’ area.
We went for a drink in Maddy’s Bar and Oli sampled some of the local wheat beer. It was decided we needed more food and we wanted Thai, Indian or Chinese. We settled for an Indian that Andrew recommended, it was good. We choose 3 dishes, Prawn Tikka Masala, Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter chicken, 2 large rice, a large garlic naan bread and a naan bread with lamb in it and also some Poppadoms and dips and a bottle of wine to wash it down with. We just about managed to finished all the food, with the exception of one unidentified object. We speculated for a while
on what this object could be, perhaps a piece of onion, a garlic clove or a yellow pepper. Oli dived in head first, cut it in half and ate it. He chewed it several times before swallowing. Then he turned to us and announced, “It’s a LEMON”. I don’t know why he didn’t spit it out when he realised but nonetheless he ate a lemon, which included the rind. Andrew then gave us a lesson in shrimps and prawns, and drew us a little diagram so we could see the difference between US prawns and UK prawns.
We then went to a few more bars on the walk home to Andrews. It was nice to see locals about instead of mostly tourists like in NYC; unfortunately Oli and I were still easily identified as tourists.
When we got back we sat outside on Andrew’s terrace on a very comfy sun lounger and had some drinks. I went to bed at midnight whilst Oli and Andrew stayed up drinking beers waiting for our first load of much needed clothes washing to finish. Andrew very kindly gave his bed up for us and slept on the sofa.
We had a lazy morning at Andrew’s eating blueberry bagels with strawberry cream cheese. I had never had a bagel or strawberry cream cheese before, so Oli and I started off cautiously, first sharing a half, but then when crazy once we got a taste for them, we got through most of the pack.
As we’d seen the Mall yesterday we decided to visit the zoo. This was part of the Smithsonian museums, which are free because of a large donation he made many years ago. We rented some more bikes and made the ride over there, which took under 10 minutes. The zoo was one of the biggest and best I’ve ever been to. We saw giant pandas, alligators, elephants, giant turtles, komodo dragons, flamingos, massive snakes, spiders and lots more.
Walking round the zoo for a few hours made us hungry. It was also the hottest day we had had so far on the holiday so we were ready for a sit down. We decided to eat at Hot and Spicy Crawfish, a restaurant featured on Man vs. Food, which Oli had spotted on our bike ride to the zoo. The table was covered in
a plastic sheet and there was an extra large kitchen roll on the table. We were handed bibs. This was a good start. You pick your seasoning, spice and meat. We went for mild Hot and Juicy with a pound of crawfish, a pound of jumbo shrimp, half a pound of snow crab, ten sausages, corn on the cob, potatoes and a calamari starter. 10 minutes later we were brought an empty bucket and a huge plastic bag filled with sauce and meat. No cutlery or plates, you eat off the table. We opened the bag and got stuck in. It was very tasty, the prawns were cooked perfectly and we were pleasantly surprised by the meat to crab shell ratio. We were glad we didn’t go for the medium spice, as the mild was enough to make our mouths burn. We managed to finish it all between us. Then we walked back to Andrews, some of us (not me) may have had a little snooze. Later that evening we got on the Subway to meet JJCB at their hotel. The subway reminded me of being inside a giant waffle. Their hotel was very swanky and we had a few
drinks in their hotel bar together. By the time we’d finished our drinks it was 10:30, so we had to eat late. We mooched around Chinatown looking for somewhere to eat. We weren’t really hungry, but of course went way over the top whilst ordering and ended up with enough food to feed 5. We had sizzling steak in black bean sauce, chicken and duck BBQ combination, chicken Tso, which tasted like sweet and sour chicken, with a shrimp fried rice. It was all good apart from a Chinese man on the table behind us making loud slurping noises every 10 seconds that could not be ignored. We subwayed it back to Andrew’s, packed our suitcases and headed off to bed.
We didn’t have much time for anything apart from breakfast – a bagel with strawberry cream cheese to go and a trip to the airport. Andrew drove us to the airport via the Capitol building as we’d not seen it close up yet. Unfortunately it was raining, so we decided to be lazy, drive by tourists and just view it from the car. On to Miami...
Washington people seem to
have more time than New Yorkers and give away their pizza to the English.
Strawberry cream cheese is amazing. Especially on blueberry bagels.
Air conditioning is a necessity.
There are more photos below