Washington DC 2017 (part 1)

Hey Everyone,

Just got back from our vacation Saturday night around midnight.  It was such a great school vacation week away!  Let me slide right into our trip here on my blog.

Ooooh yeah! First, I have a new blog name!  I upgraded here on wordpress to valeriaoutloud.blog.  I think it’s just a fun easy name to remember (for ME to remember!) and I needed more photo space, so why not? Right.

We left home around 9:30AM, had the best ride together and got to DC right in time for our dinner reservations at the Old Ebbett’s Grill.  This is the oldest restaurant in DC, right next to the Treasury Building/White House.  The restaurant was hopping!  So glad we made all our dinner reservations ahead of time. This place was old man’s club type of swank with original gas dim lighting, dark blue velvet seating, large stone bar, wood paneling, and all the waiters/waitresses decked out in their long apron whites buzzing around. Super fun, really great menu and drinks list. I am one of those indecisive food people at times, and when menus are really thoughtful it makes it hard, and this place’s menu was packed with a lot of great choices.  We dined on some fabulous cocktails and dishes; like some of the things we had were the calamari, crab cakes, and brick chicken.

DAY 1 Photos:

We stayed at the Hyatt on K Street, and it was real convenient. The location was about 5 blocks from the White House area. We walked everywhere throughout our trip, which was great for us and thankfully we had beautiful weather 95% of the week.

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The next day we decided to spend the day going around to some museums and the archives.  We started off at the National Museum of American History, then hopped to the National American History Museum and then the National Archives… Can you say HOLY WALKING!? We hit some major walking step milestones on this trip. The amount of history and information in these three buildings alone would normally take us a day at each place.  Just impressive, amazing and inspiring.  After all this we took an uber to our dinner reservation at MXCD, a Todd English Mexican restaurant.  I highly recommend it if you like Mexican food.  The sangria was so delicious and each dish we ordered was so good I could’ve stayed there all night noshing! (seriously, Mexican food done right is my fav and their tomatillo salsa is something I am still dreaming about!! Yes I love Mexican food this much  haha. )

Then we decided last-minute during dinner that it was the best time for us to surprise the girls with a stop for dessert.  They have been insane for DC Cupcakes for years; a reality show based on the owners of and shop Georgetown Cupcakes.  So, we took an uber right over to Georgetown, and they were so giddy!  We arrived to a monster line, which went by fairly quick, but I was nervous we wouldn’t make it inside before they closed … but we got in!

…six cupcakes later, and we were all real glad we made the visit. Ok, I only ate half one but they disappeared right fast with this crew!  Their cupcakes are actually good! I only make this statement because we went to Carlo’s Bakery in NJ a few years ago and their bakery stunk..sad looking and the pastries were boring. So this was a relief and a memorable stop for our girls.

DAY 2 Photos:

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Our third day was an unusual one…  So my husband’s high school friend works for the, uhm, CIA in DC.  Anytime we mentioned going down, he has always told us to take him up on a quick tour of his old stomping grounds… THE TREASURY BUILDING!!  So we took him up on it, met right outside the White House and walked over to this obscure building nearby where he got us some credentials to take this tour.  He then took us underground to a tunnel that goes under Pennsylvania Ave!  One part goes to the Treasury Building (which is where we went) and another goes to the White House!  Super cool.   From there he took us all over the Treasury, wherever he could.  The building is definitely impressive, so much money was spent on this interior, it’s quite sick.  After our two hours together, we took off to the Renwick Gallery across the street.  What a beautiful museum!  As we were there the Patriot’s showed up to the White House. We got a text of Bill Belichick walking in with a few people from our friend who was in the lobby across from their entrance.  SO LUCKY!!!

After this gallery, we walked a ways to the USDA building for lunch… weird right!?  Well, not really since it is the only food spot near the Holocaust Museum where we were headed.  So, I was skeptical, even reading reviews, but the food was insanely good and the place was so clean.  AND BUSY!  I have never had a burrito from a non-Mexican place that was as good..seriously.  After we got all stuffed full of food we made our way across the street to the Holocaust Museum.

I really can’t express how important this museum is, especially after talking to my children and all their questions while walking through.  Even though we had prepped the girls beforehand, at home, with some Holocaust and war information, especially all the things that pertained to our families..like how my great uncles all perished fighting Russia, and how my father’s family (there were 11 children) was displaced through the war, and, how both of my husband’s grandfathers were part of the war, one the bombing of Japan and the other the reconstruction of the occupation of Japan.  I wasn’t all that big on this time of our history, until 2011, when I went to Normandy for a personal WWII tour with my husband.

My God.

I left France with such a different perspective, and when we figured to go to DC this year, I was the first to say we needed to go to the Holocaust Museum, no matter the kids age.  We are both connected in some way to the war with our families, but the holocaust is a totally different aspect of that and I wanted to make sure our children understood real racist bigotry/just down right hate, so they understood that this is not normal behavior, and never to accept it as it is ok.  EVER.  I had to fight back a lot of tears explaining things to them, which was hard. Especially when we entered the ovens room and then the shoes room. I was with my oldest daughter, and well, ugh, my soul just wanted to melt into the floors with my tears.

So powerful.

We followed this visit with a rest back at the hotel for a bit before dinner.  We all needed it, especially me.

We then grabbed an uber to go to dinner, my husband was very excited to keep this one to himself.  We showed up to Jaleo!!!  So, a lil back story, I have a huge, well, IMMENSE, chef crush on Jose Andres.  I love this guy, he reminds me of my dad when I was younger..how he talks, expresses himself and just everything, and his cooking skills are right up my alley.  He is so talented.  So when we showed up I was so excited!  I have been wanting to go to DC to check out his restaurants.

Wow, just wow.  What a talented guy!  The cocktail choices were great and the list of tapas was overwhelming.  First, we had to try the Ferran Adrià liquid olives.  TO DIE FOR! Then we noshed on endives with oranges, hanger steak with piquillo, salted cod fritters, Iberico ham and chicken croquettes,  sausage and white beans, and I can’t remember more, but it was a sea of food and drinks.  OOO speaking of drinks!  My husband got a Clara in a porron, which is this funky  glass blown decanter you decant IN YO MOUTH!

After dinner we took a walk to get gelato at Pitango, which was real good!  The girls got a Matcha green tea, a stracciatela (choc chip) and we split a nocciola (hazelnut), and I wouldn’t mind going back sometime.  haha

DAY 3 Photos:

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Our last day in DC we spent it at the National Museum of African-American History and then a walk to the memorials along the Mall.   This museum was as powerful as you would think, and just as lingering as the Holocaust Museum.  My husband’s former colleague works for the museum and gave us one tip…START FROM THE BOTTOM.  So that is what we did.  This area was the most eloquent space I have been in, with regards to museums…and believe me folks, I am a museum expert at this stage of my life with my husband.!; if I had to list all the museums I have been to, you’d be exhausted. Like I am.  hahah

Ok, so this museum was similar in sense to the Holocaust museum, the only difference I felt in this museum was the exuberant resilience of the Africans/African-Americans/Black Americans.  They start you off in an elevator taking you down to the lower depths of the floor, going down through time.  As you made your way back up on foot, you go through the decades/centuries up the levels..like walking through time; starting with their first encounters with becoming slaves all the way to modern day. They over came so much hate, hate that I couldn’t even bear to read on the labels through the earliest times in the exhibit. I was happy to see that they weren’t shy to say things out loud there either, like the words whipped, lynched, hung, beaten, raped, fathered children with a slave, abused, looked over, ignored, etc,  they were there as clear as day…they weren’t dismissed.

As you went outside this exhibit and throughout the museum you saw their dark times turned into a way of life …their music, food, fashion, point of view..just everything.  It’s def a must see in DC!!!

After this we made our way across the Mall to the Washington Memorial, and then to the Lincoln Memorial.  It’s weird how overcome with emotions I was walking up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial.  It was a place I had always wanted to go visit.  Lincoln is a man I highly admire from America’s history.  He made powerful statements and wanted to see a just country.  The sight was not only beautiful but the vibe is also quite impressive.   So many gatherings of people there. Really top notch.  After we hung out at the memorial for an hour or so, we took a stroll through the Vietnam War Memorial.  It is quaintly tucked away so I almost missed it!

We then ran to grab an uber to take us to the hotel for a rest.  We walked something insane at this point, like 7 miles and on our feet, without much rest.  Then after that good rest we took a walk down to Central, Michel Richard’s restaurant..he passed away recently. So as you might tell, I am a bit of a foodie by all these places we hit up in DC.  Central was so much fun!  We got so many cocktails and appetizers that I still am full!  We started off with a blueberry white wine sangria and a pink Negroni for me…holy tipsy off one.  Seriously, I am no light weight, but that drink was holy moly good! After this we went to Milk, a special spot my kids love in NYC.  Then it started pouring, so we took an uber back to pack up the room.

DAY 4 Photos:

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Ok, so this is part one! The second part (one night) we hit up Philadelphia, PA, for a quick history stop and then on the way home we stopped in New Haven, CT.

Hope this wasn’t terribly wordy…as I wasn’t planning to say much!  haha

xoxoxoxoxo

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