Monday, August 11, 2014

Talking the (To-Do) Politics of D.C.

Ohhhhhhhhh, dear! 
It's Monday... 
and that, friends, brings to mind Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan from a favorite (1982) childhood film, Annie
She sums up this Monday mood of mine pretty accurately.

I feel you today, girl. 

 Two weekends ago, correction: A whole damn month ago, I took the 'ole shuttle bus down to Washington D.C. to meet my mother and two sisters for an all girls' weekend. 

NOTE: Do NOT, repeat, do NOT take the Megabus. Ever. You will regret it. On the return trip, I chose the Washington Deluxe, and it was a peaceful, luxury ride on par with a spa experience in comparison. 

    While in D.C. with my blood, we ate and ate, cocktailed it, traipsed through the Newseum (AMAZING! GO!), oogled the First Ladies' State Dinner dresses at the National Museum of American History (Nancy Reagan? Michelle Obama? Lady Bird Johnson? These ladies had and have style, ya'll), and most memorably, chatted & laughed A LOT. We're pretty lucky, due to the fact that we all not only love one another, but that we are each other's best friends and support system. Cheeeeesy, I know, I get it. I'm not just saying this for extra points on the next family vacation...although, cough, maybe a free dinner is in order, Mom?

    As I grow older, I understand just how important they are to me, to my soul. We're all so genuinely similar but beautifully unique, if that makes sense. Being the youngest and having undergone a very notable rebellious phase (sorry, mom and dad!), I once believed that I was nothing at all like the rest of my family members. That premise, those! Don't get me wrong, though, people. They still annoy, badger, and tease the hell out of me. Some things never truly change. 

    My heart feels full of joy when I'm joined by my puzzle pieces, my family. They accept me for my differences, yes, but they understand that at our cores, we all possess similarly-molded hearts. It took me a little too long to completely wrap my brain around how vital family---however you define the term 'family' in your life--is to the overall health of my spirit, and therefore, my day-to-day. Family, whoever they are to you, makes this odd, often cruel, and confusing world a little bit easier to tolerate, and even, enjoy. I guess, I'm just simply grateful. Although we sadly do not have the ability to be together physically as much as I'd like, I feel lucky, firstly, to have them in my life at all, and secondly, that our togetherness knows no bounds of time or mileage. 

    D.C. was simply a reminder of that. Although we missed Dad, my nephew, furry niece, and my foxchild, it provided enough of a getaway without proving too difficult to navigate or strenuous to meet up in for the group. Here's a rundown. With the capital just a bus ride away from me here in New York City, why the hell am I not visiting muuuuuch more frequently? I'm excited to embark on a few more personal tours of Washington. My list is growing, and it's already time to start checking some to-do's and to-see's off again! 

Did and Saw:

  • Newseum--Don't miss:  The Journalists Memorial that aims to honor those killed or murdered in the line of duty, providing tribute and recognition to the dangerous job of uncovering and discovering truth (this was incredibly moving to me...tears); 9/11 Gallery-I will never become accustomed to viewing and re-viewing this footage, and the media outlets across the world who covered this life-altering event in our history. See how journalists struggled and risked their lives to deliver the news of this fateful day; Anchorman exhibit-Coming relief! Family friendly, complete with photo opp newsdesk and a chance to create your own news segment in front of the camera; Presidential Pets and First Dogs photography-Furry creatures have long been a loyal companion in the White House, and they're treated rightfully so. 

"You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog."

-Harry S. Truman

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The ongoing list of journalists' names who were killed, while working, from 1837-present. 

  • National Museum of American History--Exhibit of First Ladies' Gowns and collections of presidential china (from Mary Todd Lincoln to Michelle Obama!)-Presidential fashion has certainly evolved; The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden-memorabilia and authentic collectibles from various presidents. Look for a surveyor's compass used by George Washington at Mount Vernon, the brass inkwell used by Abraham Lincoln while writing the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, a life preserver from John F. Kennedy's yacht, the gavel used during Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, and silk pajamas worn by Warren G. Harding along with many others! 

The Smithsonian wouldn't notice if this little Nancy Reagan ensemble went missing, right?

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One of Jason Wu's iconic dresses, worn by Michelle Obama. 

  • Georgetown--You can't handle the cuteness factor. I'm smitten! This town was made for walking. There are dozens of name-brand shops as well as local boutiques to poke into, coffee shops, galleries, and benches to sit on to take in the scenery and upbeat energy of the area. Take an evening stroll by the water at Georgetown Waterfront Park. And,  if you have the time, take a boat tour along the Potomac River. 
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  • White House grounds--This includes walking through the pedestrian corridor (or moped through it, if you prefer that mode of transportation!) to see-but, of course, darling!-The White House, The Eisenhower Executive office building (next door and breathtaking!), and the historic homes/associations on lining streets. 

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Sips & Bites:

  • Dinner: Filomena--Hailed as an Old World Italian icon for thirty years, located in Georgetown, Filomena provides a traditional, hearty and intimate experience after your neighborhood explorations. Notables: Italian pastamaker in-action as you enter the restaurant;  The Ravioli Di Chiacchieri, features shrimp and scallops with cheese ravioli in a lobster cream sauce (Heavenly! But, order to share, speaking from experience! Over-ordering far too easy here!); complimentary Amaretto and Sambuco at the closing of the meal. That's reason enough right there, yes?! Again, I'll reiterate: this girl and her family can eeeeeaaaatttttt, and we couldn't possibly finish everything. Split appetizers, entrees and save room for a dessert while sipping the free post-meal booze to really settle the stomach. 

  • Brunch: Founding Farmers--Shabby-chic and comfortable, situated just three blocks from the White House, Founding Farmers serves up fresh and sustainable food, sourced from family-owned farms, fisheries, and ranches. The quality of the ingredients becomes instantaneously noticable. For brunch, mix it up and order the best of both of the mighty breakfast rivals: sweet and savory. Highlights: To begin with for the table, Uncle Buck's Beignets served with raspberry, chocolate and caramel sauces (Swoon! WHO doesn't like a myriad of sauces? No, really, WHO?! Dip away!); Stuffed french toast; Fried chicken and waffles with eggs and white gravy (Worth the automatic coma!); For something a little healthier, A Drag Through the Garden pan scramble with tons of seasonal veggies and white cheddar. 
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  • Snack and Drink: Old Ebbitt Grill--Another American icon, founded in 1856, and situated just a few blocks from the White House, provides a historic tavern-feel and serves up a side dish of who's who in American history. While many flock here for dinner (several in limousines and accompanied by bodyguards), we chose to grab an "in-between" after sightseeing. Albeit on the touristy side, due to both location and reputation, prices are surprisingly reasonable for the quality and quantity of the food. Accented by dark mahogany and deep booths, four bars scattered throughout, create an open yet cozy atmosphere. There's an afternoon as well as late night "happy hour" special on its famous oyster and raw bar, so it was perfect pre-late-dinner-reservation and would also be appropriate for a post-drinking late night. Don't miss: oyster specials; specialty local beers; creamy crab dip; scanning for important political figures (Frank Underwood, is that you?!). But, definitely snag a reservation if you're planning on dining during peak hours. 
  • 14th Street Corridor: Once known for its grit, red-lights, and crime, this straight-shot street is chock-full of life. Attributed to the recent gentrification, dozens of galleries, theaters, restaurants and bars have breathed new life into this strip. You can't go wrong. Grab oysters and some sparkling with friends at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace (happy hour? YES!) or a tres-chic French meal of steak frites and roasted chicken at bistro Le Diplomate
  • Liaison Hotel Rooftop Pool Bar: Soak up the sun during the day in nap-worthy lounge chairs on this Capitol Hill hotel rooftop and swim a lap when the heat becomes unbearable throughout the summer. Later, grab a signature cocktail from the bar as you watch the sunset from a corner cabana with a stellar view. Win-win. 

Where We Stayed: 
  • The Liaison--Its location in Capitol Hill made this hotel central to almost all of our destinations. While it isn't the absolute fanciest or most historic luxury hotel--Ahhhhhh, check out The Jefferson and The Willard Intercontinental (both on my "when I win the lottery" bucketlist)--, the sleek Liaison is decorated modernly with an artistic flair and offered wonderfully spacious rooms. I walked with my suitcase from Union Station, and I arrived in about five minutes. Seriously, if I can do it, it must be a cinch. Art and Soul, the hotel's acclaimed restaurant, serves a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. I snacked on a light but yummy farrow salad while awaiting my mother and sisters' arrival. Oh, and between the extremely helpful concierge (free passes=win!), as well as the huge rooftop pool and bar, you can pack your day full of activities or just lounge in the sunshine and rest those walkin' feet. We found a ridiculous (!) deal through, and the Liaison filled all of our needs and kept our credit cards from weeping. I like that. I like that a lot. 

Who's meeting me there? 
Cocktails and culture in D.C., anyone? 
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