Last weekend we took advantage of our new proximity to the fine state of Virginia and took an anniversary trip to Washington DC. I hope we get to explore Virginia a good deal during our time here; it was the state that always seemed so close and yet so far away from Kentucky.
I know some people don’t particularly love D.C., and I can understand that sentiment to a point, but as far as larger cities go, I could picture myself there more than any of the others. The politics (and political talk) can get heavy handed, but there are so many things of real import going on and it is beautiful in the fall and then there are the museums. Working in a museum has always been a dream of mine. I think it was afternoons wandering the halls of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford that did it. Not having spent much time in them behind the scenes, I am not even exactly sure what sort of work I would do, and like any job I am sure it would be full of less glamour than imagined, but I just find it so exciting that these cultural vaults exist and that we are invited to explore them. And in D.C. we are invited for free, and so we fondly termed this our Nerds who Like to Eat Anniversary.
Mission: To visit as many museums and sample as many of the best cheap eats possible in two days…
Let’s get the must do D.C. out of the way: we made it to our hotel just as the sun and temperatures started to go down. Somehow my throw as many things as possible in an overnight bag and wing-it tactic failed this time, and I made it there without a real coat- we also realized around this time that John did not really own a fall coat- so we layered on as many things as possible and headed to the metro. I love the metro. I understand that I would probably hate the metro if I had to use it all the time, but as a tourist it is part of what makes the whole thing work. (Though remind me to tell you later of how I once nearly had a panic attack in the metro when faced with egregious crowding and a man dressed in a full gorilla suit.)
We strolled the mall and checked in on the White House.
…and then we strolled over to the Foggy Bottom ( I know) Metro Stop and checked in on Burger Tap and Shake. This place was pretty busy and full of patrons from the nearby George Washington U., and they have a good burger. We were really hungry, and I might have overdone it in ordering the Southern Comfort: A burger replete with a fried green tomato, pimento cheese, and vidalia onions. It was good and we will most likely return, but John and I thought that Durham’s own Bull City Burgers edged them out, if only on the considerable merit of their sweet potato fries.
As many meals of this kind, afterward John and I decided that it had been a big mistake: you know, burger, fries, and a milkshake is a bit much. – A few 24 hours later John pleaded that we return. I don’t think we will ever really learn.
We stayed in Alexandria, so a 20-30 minute metro trip was in order to get us back to the hotel. I had heard good things about Old Town Alexandria’s Farmers Market, so we decided that Saturday’s breakfast would be a great excuse to check it out. I was not particularly impressed with the market, but just walking around Old Town ended up being one of my favorite parts of the weekend.
It reminded me of another southern favorite, Charleston, S.C. We made sure to get a rounded breakfast of savory and sweet- though both options centered around buttery pastry dough- and enjoyed them on the way to our first museum on the metro.
*Note: We later saw signs that threatened fines for eating on the metro; you probably shouldn’t follow our example…
We narrowed our museum choices down to three for the sake of quality over quantity, and our first trip was to the Holocaust museum. Now there were a few jokes here and there about the implication of going to this particular museum on our anniversary trip, but later we both agreed that it was a completely worthy experience. The museum itself deserves and will get its own post, but needless to say, it was moving and difficult and at the end we were really glad to have gone.
After a two-hour route through the museum we emerged onto the mall and took in the clear blue skies. We had both visited the monuments several times before, so we didn’t make a specific trip to any one. But of course they were never far away…
Now we were ready for lunch, and I had done my homework. We are frequent users of sites like yelp and urbanspoon to make restaurant decisions, and when I found Panas, I knew we had to make the trip. It was a little out of the way but so worth the trip.
Panas serves empanadas stuffed with about 15 different flavor combinations, omnivores and vegetarians alike will come away happy and I wanted to buy a bottle of each of their four dipping sauces to take home; they were each wonderful in entirely different ways. I don’t think this is a chain, though it would work well as one for the concept; everything was so well thought out from the combinations, to the accompaniments, and finally to the codes that were baked into each crust so you knew which flavor you happened to be enjoying. We took the plunge and ordered the Canoa- 8 enchiladas and plaintain chips. For the record our favorites were The Popeye and the CubaNovo. All the food was excellent, and the food is a great price for the experience and quality.
Fully stuffed by the canoe of food, we were ready for the wonderland of every 10 year old in a 27 year old’s body: the Natural History Museum.
To be continued…