Top 10 Things To Do in Washington, D.C.

1. Walk through Arlington National Cemetery

 http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/
Where? Arlington, Virginia
Why go? To call over 600 acres of tombs an overwhelming experience would be a disrespectful understatement. I wasn’t at all prepared for the enormity of it, or the impact seeing all of those tombs would have on me. It wasn’t easy to walk through, but I felt it was a necessary walk, not just for me but for everyone; in order to continue to justify war and hatred and taking of lives, I think everyone should take a walk through here
How long will you need? We spent around 2 hours here.
Cost? Free.
Read more:
– Arlington National Cemetery

 

2. Eat and shop your way through the Eastern Market

http://easternmarket-dc.org/
Where? 225 7th St SE, Washington, DC
Why go? The market itself left a lot to be desired on the day we visited, with very few stalls open, but the food section was pumping! Places like Market Lunch were full of people, and sitting at the big communal table with locals and my giant plate of pancakes was a brilliant way to start a day of exploring!
How long will you need? With the market not offering a lot, we were there for about an hour to enjoy some serious breaky and people watching.
Cost? My “short stack” of blueberry buckwheat pancakes with toasted pecans cost around USD$5.00. I use the term “short stack” very loosely, because the serving was so big I couldn’t finish it, even with husband’s help.
Read more:
– Eat here: Market Lunch at the Eastern Market

 

3. Take time to reflect at the Holocaust Museum

 https://www.ushmm.org/
Where? 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC
Why go? I’ve had a strong sense of horror, curiosity, intrigue and admiration for the victim’s of Hitler’s war of terror ever since reading Anne Frank’s Diary and Elie Wiesel’s “Night” in high school. The more I read from survivors, the more it digs into my soul, so I felt a strong pull to visit the Holocaust Museum. I moved through in in quiet reverence, took only one photo (above) in order to remember it, and left in silent tears. Again, if we are living in an age where our leaders condemn war, this is something that must be experienced, regardless of how painful that is.
How long will you need? We were in there for around 2 hours.
Cost? Free.

 

4. Indulge your inner bookworm at the Library of Congress

 https://www.loc.gov/
Where? 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC
Why go? This is an experience for both book and architecture lovers. The building will leave you speechless if you take the time to look at the little details, and the collection of books is mind-blowing.
How long will you need? We were there for an hour or so – I could have stayed all day!
Cost? Free! How wonderful is this city of free education?!
Read more:
From my travel journal: Washington, D.C., 2015

 

5. Make yourself at home at Ben’s Chili Bowl

 http://benschilibowl.com/
Where? 1213 U St NW, Washington, DC
Why go? The dogs were fantastic, more of a sausage than a frank, absolutely delicious. The chili was great too, a little bit of a kick, heaps of flavour, and plenty of it. What was even better was the gentleman pictured above in the bottom left corner; he came over to our table to say hi, welcome to Ben’s, and asked how the meal was; not only did he stay for a chat and a photo, he introduced us to the lovely lady in the photo top right, one of the owners and family members of Ben. The food was good, but the people were better!
How long will you need? We weren’t planning to stay long, but ended up there for just under an hour, chatting to our new friends 🙂
Cost? USD$5.95 for the classic jumbo chili dog.
Read more:
– Eat here: Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington, D.C., USA

 

6. Wonder through Georgetown

Why go? After the intensity of the museums and monuments, it’s kinda nice to just get away and take a stroll and look at the beautiful buildings that reside in Georgetown…
How long will you need? We were wondering around for an hour or two.
Cost? Free.

 

7. Take a quiet timeout at the Reflecting Pool

http://www.nationalmall.org/explore-national-mall/monuments-memorials/lincoln-memorial-reflecting-pool
Where? National Mall
Why go? The day we visited was cold and rainy, and I was getting a bit overwhelmed by it all. By the time we reached the reflecting pool, I needed to pause, and there couldn’t be a more beautiful spot in the city to do that. Watching the ripples across the water and the reflection of the trees above, it was the perfect place to stop and consider how far we’d come by that point in our trip. And when I finally looked up, I found I wasn’t the only one taking a time out 🙂
How long will you need? I took about half an hour (under my umbrella!).
Cost? Free!

 

8. Let your inner dorky child run wild at the National Air & Space Museum

https://airandspace.si.edu/visit
Where? 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC
Why go? I’m actually a bit of an aviation and space nerd, so when husband suggested a stop in at this museum, I was stoked! There is SO much to see in here, and quite a few interactive stations – perfect for when it’s really raining and you need a break. Or for when your kids are starting to drive you up the wall and you to distract them!
How long will you need? At least a few hours.
Cost? Free! How great is that?!

 

9. People watch at Washington Harbor

https://www.thewashingtonharbour.com/
Where? 3000 & 3050 K Street NW, Washington, DC
Why go? This was sunset on the harbor after a long and emotionally taxing afternoon in Arlington. There weren’t many people out, being the middle of winter; a few joggers and dog walkers, and us. We sat down, watched a few planes soar overhead, and let the experiences of the day wash over us.
How long will you need? An hour or two, depending on how much is going on.
Cost? Another freebie!

 

10. Get into the greatest food combo the city has to offer, fried chicken and donuts

Where? My personal favourites were Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (1308 G Street NW, Washington, DC) and GBD Fried Chicken & Doughnuts (which is sadly now closed).
Why go? Fried dough. Fried chicken. I had no idea it as a thing to throw them together. Now I don’t know why it took me so long to discover it! Astro’s chicken was so tender and juicy on the inside and ridiculously crispy inside, and their doughnuts were some of the best I’ve had.
How long will you need? How fast can you eat?!
Cost? Doughnuts cost around USD$3.00 each, and the big 8 piece chicken box will set you back around USD$20.00 (Tip – we didn’t get through the 8 pieces. The services are WAY bigger than those you get in Australia!)
Read more:
– Eat here: Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, Washington, D.C., USA
Eat here: GBD Fried Chicken & Doughnuts, Washington, D.C. (donuts)

From my travel journal: Washington, D.C., 2015

When I find things getting hectic, I tend to crave more time in my book nook; time to read or write, to just generally be in a quiet, comforting place filled with books…

 

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“THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (Jefferson Building).
This was a gorgeous building, as they all were, really. The upper level was beautifully decorated, with quotes lining the walls. I quite liked “Books will speak plain when counsellors blanch.” The ornate columns and ceiling were really magnificent, and seeing Thomas Jefferson’s library was brilliant. To have a lifetime of being around all of those books…”

Through my eyes: Washington DC’s National Mall

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Firstly, you may have noticed the slight change in blog name; while I didn’t necessarily want to be “ordinary” any more, it’s occurred to me that for better or worse, Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Dreamer is my brand and my online identity now, and I’ve gotta honour that! That’s how I’ve become known, and I’m still surprised and grateful at the fact that my blog actually is known, so I’m going to partially return to my roots 🙂

Secondly, we had a great weekend escape to Warburton yesterday! We did eat delicious pizza, as I suspected we would, and had an awesome time just leaving the world behind for a while and exploring on our own  : )   And despite the absolutely freezing cold, it was really nice – it was also nice to get back home, into warm PJs, the heater, and a book to read at the end of it all!

Don’t ask me why, but I associate cold weather with books. I know, I’m weird. Maybe it’s because that’s perfect weather for curling up under a blanket with a good book. Good weather to escape into another story and another life. That’s what I was thinking about when I posted a TBT photo on Instagram this week that my husband took of me taking a photo of Thomas Jefferson’s collection in the Library of Congress (last photo of the post). Posting that photo also reminded me of the few days we spend in DC in January, and the particularly cold wet day we spend walking around the National Mall. I’m not a patriotic American, but even I have to admit it’s an incredibly impressive area…

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Anyway, hope everyone else had a great weekend too, and stay warm, fellow Melbournians!

Eat here: Market Lunch at the Eastern Market, Washington, D.C. (breakfast)

Market Lunch
at the Eastern Market, 225 7th St SE, Washington, DC
http://www.easternmarket-dc.org/default.asp?contentID=46

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2015/01/img_5512.jpgOhh Friday, thank goodness… It’s been a long week! I’ve also been craving pancakes for the last 3 weeks now and haven’t had the opportunity to get and get some, so that may be this weekend’s task. In the meantime, I’m going to keep crushing on the amazing pancakes I had in Washington DC earlier this year at the Eastern Market. Market + pancakes = happy days, usually.

Unfortunately, this time, it was the market itself that was a bit of a letdown; we arrived an hour after opening time to find hardly any markets stalls actually set up.. Luckily, breakfast more than exceeded our expectations! There were a few food places open, but Market Lunch seemed to have three times the customers than the rest of the places combined, so like moths to the flame, we followed the wafting bacon smells in the air and joined the quickly moving line.

These guys have an absolutely killer breakfast menu, mostly egg variations and some pancakes, which made it a bit easier to make a selection. Husband went with “the brick” (above right), a solid (literally, solid) sandwich of egg, potato, cheese and meat of choice (bacon, duh) for a very civilised USD$4.25. It weighed about as much as a house brick, was completely delicious with the melty cheese and the gooey egg yolk, and really filled you up!

My choice was cemented as soon as I walked past the big communal dining bench in front of the counter. Pancakes. Dear God, pancakes. I’d been craving them for ages, and my stomach was just recovering from it’s latest bout of “something you’re eating is making me want to die,” so I was actually hungry. I didn’t want to over-do it though, so I just ordered the short stack of blueberry buckwheat pancakes with toasted pecans for around USD$5.00 – I figured this little short stack would satisfy the craving without making me full to the point of illness. How wrong I was… my “short stack” was compiled of two dinner-plate sized pancakes, each close to an inch thick, with a ton of pecans and a vat of help-yourself syrup. Holy wow. The pancakes themselves were beyond delicious, they were exactly what I felt like, and the toasted pecans were perfect with the blueberries. The hot syrup was both the literal and figurative icing on the cake, and I contemplated the appropriateness of hugging the pancake chef. I only got through half the stack, husband made a small dent in the remaining half, but for $10, we were both utterly stuffed.

If you happen to find yourself in DC this weekend, head to the Eastern Market, don’t bother looking around, just join the cue, order some eggs and pancakes, and you’ll understand what everyone looks so damn happy about! And for the rest of us, may we all find pancakes and eggs that delicious in our own cities (recommendations for Melbourne very welcome at this point!).

 

 

Market Lunch on Urbanspoon

Eat here: GBD Fried Chicken & Doughnuts, Washington, D.C. (donuts)

GBD Fried Chicken & Doughnuts
1323 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC
http://www.gbdchickendoughnuts.com

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Ohh donuts… I love you! You may make me fat and put me on a sugar high which really hurts to come crashing out of, but that’s ok, I still love you!

These donuts were particularly good after a cold, rainy, miserable day in Washington DC. We went to GBD, part donuttery, part bar, party fried chicken heaven. We just wanted some donuts and a hot coffee for husband, and a hot tea for me. Two out of three ain’t bad, I guess…

Coffee they had, no worries. Donuts, too. Tea was an issue. I battled hard in America trying to get a good, hot cup of tea. Most places didn’t do it. Why, I really don’t know – boiled water with a tea bag plonked in it really isn’t that difficult. But, as we found out, plenty of places offered sweetened iced tea. This was one of those places. The face the lady behind the counter pulled when I asked for tea with soy milk was absolutely priceless – she turned around, collected a plastic cup and filled it with ice – “ummm Jess… I don’t think you’re getting hot tea…” AAAHAHAHAHA she was going to give me a cup of COLD, iced tea with SOY MILK!!! Fantastic!! We’ll just grab some donuts to go then and make the hot drinks ourselves back at the hotel. At that stage, it was something like Jess – 0, hot tea shutdowns – 27.

So we grabbed a Nutella crunch (top) and a hot vanilla glaze. What these guys lacked in hot tea making abilities, they MORE than made up for in donut skills. The Nutella one was smothered in the good stuff, with heaps of crushed and toasted hazelnuts on top. If anything, it was maybe too sweet – it tasted like they’d mixed more sugar into the Nutella! But it was delicious!

The hot vanilla glaze was the hands down favourite, though – we literally waited around for five minutes while the donut was freshly fried for us in store, and then freshly glazed. It was nestled in a little cardboard box, swimming in hot glaze goodness. They wrapped it up in foil to keep it warm, and we luckily didn’t have far to walk. It was still nice and warm and dripping in gooey glaze when we got back, and it was perfect. Not disgustingly sweet, great vanilla flavour, and the donut itself was fantastic. We’d had an OD situation with some fried chicken earlier that day at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, so we sadly couldn’t double up again without being insanely unwell, but I’d love to try the chicken out if I’m ever back in DC – we saw some coming out and it looked beautiful! Anyone else tried the chicken here??

 

GBD Fried Chicken and Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

USAdventure days 24, 25 & 26: Washington, DC

Stayed at: Washington DC accommodation: Courtyard Washington Embassy Row by Marriott

Ate at:
– Market Lunch at the Eastern Market
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
– Shake Shack
– Ben’s Chili Bowl
– GBD

Got up to:
– Eastern Market
– Library of Congress
– Capitol Building
– Reflecting Pool
– Air & Space Museum
– National Archives (home of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights)
– The White House
– Holocaust Museum
– Washington Monument
– Lincoln Memorial
– Arlington National Cemetery
– Washington Harbour
– Georgetown

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Eat here: Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington, D.C., USA

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St NW, Washington, DC
http://benschilibowl.com

I know I said I was gonna suspend regular posting until I got home, but some of this stuff is too good to wait, and I was missing regularly posting and yeah.. So here’s another one!

We’re big fans of shows like Man V Food and all things Bourdain, so we’d seen and heard a bit about Ben’s Chili Bowl in the lead up to this trip, and we were keen on trying it.

Our second day in D.C. proved to be just as wet as the first, but we still managed to have walked around 12km around the city before lunch time, so we decided to visit Ben’s to load those burnt calories back on again. Great choice.

We turned up to the U street location around 12.30 today (Sunday) to find a line out the door, which kept up for the duration of our visit. We ordered the original chili half-smoke and tucked ourselves into a booth to get stuck into it – we turned around and noticed the table beside us was the one that President Obama infamously sat at when he visited.

The dogs were fantastic, more of a sausage than a frank, absolutely delicious. The chili was great too, a little bit of a kick, heaps of flavour, and plenty of it; surprisingly it actually didn’t make the bun soggy which was good news. We also found we had a side of chips thrown in!

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So yeah, great food. What was even better was the gentleman pictured above in the bottom left corner; he came over to our table to say hi, welcome to Ben’s, and asked how the meal was. Amazing, we said, worth the trip from Australia. Well, that did it; we became celebrities! He insisted on taking our photo for us, obliged most happily when I asked if we could get a photo with him – he asked another diner to please take our picture, informing him that we were Australian and he was so happy to have us with him. He also insisted on introducing us to the lovely lady in the photo top right, one of the owners and family members of Ben.

The hot dog was fantastic, but my goodness the people just made it! It was the best experience, we felt super important being taken around the restaurant with other diners staring at us, shaking hands and chatting happily.. If you’re visiting, go for the hot dog and stay for the gorgeous people 🙂 it’s a DC institution for a reason!!

Ben's Chili Bowl on Urbanspoon