I just finished reading Rules Of Civility, by Amor Towles, (which I absolutely LOVED) and in it, one of the main characters used the expression "capital!" in place of splendid or brilliant. Though, I have heard the expression before, I was taken with it and decided "Capital!" was the very best title for this blog, indeed. Ma and I had a splendid, first rate, excellent, brilliant, top notch, "capital" time on our trip to Washington, DC! Trying my best to shun the pun, our Nation's Capital was just that.
Ma had planned the trip months in advance, but as the trip grew near, we decided to forgo the larger, historic, Willard Hotel for the smaller, French, Sofitel Hotel. We had stayed at the Sofitel in New York City and decided that the smaller boutique style hotel, was a better fit for us. Ma had been battling a cold in the weeks leading up to our trip, but was thankfully feeling a bit better as the departure date neared. I, on the other hand, had my first sneeze the day before we left. Oh, it was just a sneeze. And a runny nose, but that could be anything. But my throat... it hurt. I tried not to mention my symptoms, and just made sure to pack plenty of vintage hankies, all color coordinated to my outfits, of course! Washington, DC was a place that Ma had been wanting to visit for years. With all the travel that we have done, I am not sure if this trip had slipped through the cracks or if she was just saving it, but either way, Ma was looking forward to the trip and colds were not going to slow us down! So off we went, trying to keep as many germs to ourselves, as possible.
As we arrived at the Atlanta Airport, we missed the exit for the Park-Ride lot and ended up in the long term airport parking. Not only was the long term parking expensive, it was also packed full of cars and they had no nice little shuttle to drop you and your bags off right in front of the Delta ticket agent. What is up with that? After we made our way down row after row of endlessly filled parking spaces, I initiated the vote that we just suck it up, pay the $15 and try like hell to find the Park-Ride lot and that handy dandy shuttle. Though this was not the best thing, we were running low on time, and something had to give, so after another go up and down a few rows, Ma agreed that $15 seemed to be the only way we were going to find a place to park and make it to our gate on time, so we made our way to the exit. When we got to the booth, prepared to pay our due, a really wonderful lady, who had clearly seen our kind there before, offered us a get out of long term parking free card and directions to the nearest Park-Ride. She said, smiling, to think of it as a "grace period". We smiled and I told her it was indeed "grace", we thanked her and made our way to the land of the shuttles.
At the Delta curb side check-in, one of our luggage tags didn't print. One bag was sent one way, while the agent dragged the other, with us trailing behind, into the terminal to try and locate the other tag "in the system". Oh gah. Okay, still smiling! Finally our check-in was complete and we made our way to security, which was surprisingly uneventful aside from my bracelet setting off the dinger thing and inciting an argument between two agents who were determined that it was a bangle that I could not remove. Wait people, I can take it off! So, I did, and it was fine. Ma and I got spared the weird body scan thing for some reason. A female agent pulled us aside and said we didn't need to go through, which worked for me, cause I was already sucking in a much as I could suck in! (hehe)
So we flew, and we arrived, grabbed our bags (both arrived, thankfully!) and after a brief bout of mistrust of the taxi line (it is different at LaGuardia) we were on our way!
We have been to Virginia before, (I loved Virginia Beach) but we were immediately struck by the calm and had a very pleasant taxi ride to the hotel. Nothing looked as either of us had pictured. It was all so much better. DC had a wonderfully calm vibe that I was not prepared for and the feeling of a big small town that immediately put me at ease. We saw lots of green space and amazing trees and the traffic was nothing compared to NYC. We wasted no time and after checking in and dropping our bags off in the room we hit the streets of DC, intent on seeing it all! See it all, we did not, but see a ton we most certainly did! That day we walked for miles and miles, as we made our way to most, if not all of the memorials! We saw The Washington Monument,
The Lincoln Memorial,
The White House, the vegetable garden, The Vietnam Wall Memorial, The WWII Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, oh gosh, I have lost track but, we saw a ton of memorials, and we spent time touring the Holocaust Museum. Ma had read that the Holocaust Museum was not recommended for children, which gave me and my sensitive self pause, but I am glad that we decided to go. It was horribly sad and the images were graphic and horrific, but it was real. It happened. It never should have, but it happened and I did not find it to be any more heavy than what a child would see in a history book, but obvioulsly that should be a decision left up to a parent, which clearly, I am not, and I think they might have said not for children under 12, but I am not certain.
At dusk we made our way back to the hotel and had dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was very nice, but since it was French, was at a slower pace and lasted long into the evening. We drank an Alsace, ate salade niçoise, drank french press coffee, which was served with a wonderful little lemon macaron, and even had dessert! I had a poached peach with some sort of fruity fluff that I can not recall and Ma had something nice and chocolate.
The next day we ventured out to the Renwick, American History Museum (our favorite), The Natural History Museum (packed and not even close to NY. The Hope Diamond fell short of my expectations), The Air and Space Museum ( 9 year old "O" wanted a picture of Amelia Earhart's plane and we were gonna find it),
we walked to The Capital (which the hotel concierge said could not be done. Pshaw! Did the Titanic sink?), where they were having some sort of free concert, but at that point we were not really up for the festivities so we called it a day and made our way back to the hotel and ordered room service.
At this point, one must note, that Ma and I, we are not your average sight seeing tourists. We are seasoned professionals with skills developed in the hallways of the Louvre, and honed in museums big and small across America and Europe. We know our goal and we set out, at what could never be described as a leisurely pace, to attack it head on. We are in and we are out. We know what we have seen and what we haven't. We know what we want to get out of each particular thing and we accomplish it, never missing a beat. We do not stop when we are tired. We do not slow our pace when we have blisters or are in pain. We are professionals. We have a mission, and we accomplish it. Then, when we get home, we crash. So, if our pace seems impossible or unlikely, perhaps for most it is, but when we have a goal, we have a goal.
On day three we took a tour bus to Arlington. I can't begin to do Arlington justice. I can not describe the feeling as we watched the Soldier guard The Tomb Of The Unknown, or The Changing Of The Guard Ceremony.
It was something that I know, I will never forget, and something that filled me with such pride and respect for not only our Soliders, but for America. I think it is easy to lose sight of the realities of what it means to live in a Free Country. To live in America. I think it is easy to lose sight of the realities of War. I went to Arlington thinking of it as getting to see JFK's gravesite, Jackie's, Bobby's, Teddy's, (I do, like it or not, have a Kennedy fixation), but in the end I left with so very much more. Seeing the Solidiers. Seeing the lives devoted to serving and lives lost for America was so much more. I can not begin to do Arlington justice.
After leaving Arlington we toured the National Archive, where we saw United States Government's Charters of Freedom, the U. S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, among other things.
We had dinner in a quaint little Italian place near the hotel, where I could neither hear a word from my clogged ears, nor taste a thing, due to my cold, but Ma said it was all very good!
Day four, with our trip and energy winding down and rain steadly pouring, we decided to take a taxi and spend the day shopping and sight seeing around Georgetown. Georgetown was charming, even in the rain.
We shopped, had lunch, and even popped into a Sprinkles Cupcakes to grab Liila a little cupcake treat!
After shopping and walking all day in the cold and the rain, we had cocktails and dinner at the hotel and called it a night. The Sofitel staff were all amazing! The restaurant staff could not have been better and that is insanely high praise coming from me. They were all perfection, we could not have asked for better and to top it all off our waitress indulged me in a few extra macarons for the road (or the air, as it turned out)!
We had an amazing time in DC! We loved the place, loved the people, loved the vibes. When all is said and done, our trip can be summed up with one word, "capital"!