Bond, James Bond

Trip Start Aug 24, 2011
Trip End Sep 30, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Washington, D.C.
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our first full day in Washington DC and as much as I didn’t want to lose a minute of it, I refused to set an alarm either. I had the best sleep I’ve had for ages last night. Perhaps I need to exhaust myself like that every day. I didn’t move once, or at least I don’t think I did because I woke up exactly where I went to sleep.

I’m getting better at the breakfast organising and knew exactly where we were going this morning! One of the best rated cafes in Washington DC and it wasn’t too far from us at all. We were up and out by about 9:30 and on our way to find Yola. All the Yelp ratings promised this was the best place for a cappuccino so that’s definitely where I was going.

When we arrived it looked more like a yoghurt bar than a cafe but I figured I’d give it a go anyway. Glad I did actually, the coffee was indeed excellent. No curdled milk, no burnt coffee beans, just a nice smooth, rich coffee. I want to clone this barista and send him all over the rest of America.

It was definitely going to be another big day of walking today but it had to be done. We had a list of things we really wanted to see or do before we left Washington so they had to be done today. We have one more day here but we have out of town plans for tomorrow.

The White House was first on the list since I was too hungry to pay it any attention yesterday. We found from doing a bit of research getting inside the White House is a serious pain in the backside and we felt the amount of effort required was going to outweigh the pleasure of going inside for both of us so we opted to stay outside and just have a look at the building and the grounds from there. We were both happy with that, and apparently so was a very large crowd of other people. There were snipers up on the roof which was a bit freaky but I guess you’d expect that given the building holds the Nation’s President.

Next for us were the Smithsonian Museums. Chris desperately wanted to go to the Air and Space Museum and I wanted to go to the Hirshhorn Museum because they were meant to have Andy Warhol artworks. I will see some on this trip! These are only two of many museums that form part of the Smithsonian, but they were our picks.

We almost jogged down to the Air and Space Museum Chris was so excited. I thought it would be quite cool but wasn’t that fussed. Another security check and we were inside. This thing was stuffed to the brim full of old planes, spaceships and other spacey stuff. We found a free tour was starting in about 10 minutes so had a quick look around and came back to join that when it started. The lady who took the tour was killing me! Three plane descriptions in and I wanted to strangle her. She had THE most annoying voice and she was a shouter. She had a microphone for God’s sake, what’s all the shouting about? Chris saw the explosion building and figured he wasn’t enjoying much of what she had to say either so swiftly moved me away from her. What a horror! The most interesting thing we found out from her was that all the planes and artefacts in the museum were originals, but the majority of the space items (crafts or otherwise) were not.

We spent the next half an hour walking around the museum checking out exhibits and I was pretty much done. Chris on the other hand, had just started. Looking around, I noticed lots of other wives also being dragged around by their husbands who were as keen as Chris. I think I can safely say this is a boys museum, or a husbands day care centre. I saw that Chris was in good hands here so I left him and went in search of my Warhol artworks.

Arriving at the Hirshhorn I had yet another security check to get through, then went to the information desk and asked the lady where I’d find the Warhols. She said, “Oh we have one at the bottom of the escalator, but if you come back in two weeks time we’ll have a huge exhibition opening that will spread over two floors of the museum. We’re having Warhols sent in from all over the county”. THAT’S WHERE ALL THE WARHOLS ARE!!!! I saw all the crates containing the artworks and that some were being unloaded into a room of the gallery. I begged her to let me sit quietly in the corner because I couldn’t come back in two weeks. I said I’d happily make a donation to the gallery if she’d let me. She did consider it for a moment and then just said she couldn’t do it. I had the biggest pout I’m sure of it because she apologised profusely. Nooooooo, they were right there. I could smell them! Sigh!
I walked slowly downstairs to find the one Warhol they did have, Marilyn Monroe’s Lips, which brought a smile to my face. Not a huge one mind would have been enormous if she’d let me sit in that gallery for a little while.

I’d left Chris with his spaceships for close to an hour so texted him to say we should meet up for lunch which we did at Carmine’s, a place not to far from the Museums. This place was fab, another great bar / bistro mix and they served American / Italian food in huge proportions. We ordered one antipasto dish that we couldn’t finish between us. I was saving a bit of room for a gelato from Pitango, a place just next door and I’m glad I did. That was well worth saving up for.

Refreshed after a sit down and some lunch we were ready to move on to the National Archives where they hold the original documents of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. We’d learned so much about these in Philadelphia we wanted to see the originals! Yep, another security check and a big queue to get to see the documents but I’d say it was worth the wait. Standing in front of documents that have helped form a country is mind boggling...even if you can’t read them because they’re a little faded. You'll just have to believe me because you weren't allowed to take photos.

The archives hold quite a lot more obviously but they were the big draw cards for us. We did want to see the Magna Carta too but they'd taken it off display for restoration. We had a couple more things we wanted to see anyway so decided after enjoying those we’d move on. Compromises have to be made when you have such limited time in a city.

Next stop, the International Spy Museum. I was kind of thinking this was a bit more of a kids place but Chris was so excited by the prospect of being surrounded by all that spy gear I couldn’t say no. Actually it was great but you couldn't take photos here either. Boo! There was lots of wartime history on how spies went about their business and we also found out that there are more spies in Washington today than in any other city. The Museum is huge. It went through three floors and was crammed full of stuff used either during times of war or just to gather general intel. I was quite surprised by how much fun we both had in there...probably a lot more fun than the parents dragging whingy, screeching kids through it. Ohhhhh how I love to walk by those families feeling completely unencumbered. 

Stuffed, is probably the best way to describe how both of us were feeling. Doing back to back monster walks is a big effort and by the time we’d finished in the Spy Museum we were hardly talking and feet were aching. We’d been on the go for another 8ish hours and still had one place to see. We wanted to walk by the Ford's Theatre where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated which thankfully was only a couple of blocks away.

That was it. Everything on the list achieved and we were free to go back to the Hotel and collapse. On our very slow walk back we spied Bibiana an Italian restaurant and wine bar. Happy days! I promptly told Chris I was not walking past that so we stopped off for the afternoon’s aperitivo. Yes Prosecco....YES Limoncello cocktails. Heaven.

They tempted us with a menu whilst we were sitting at the bar and it soon became apparent to Chris we would be having dinner here, mostly because I’d booked us in for 9:30pm and told the Maitre d’ we’d be back.

Off back to the hotel to have a very refreshing and necessary shower and change before getting a cab back to the restaurant. We were seated with Prosecco which makes for a very happy Princess in our household, and as soon as they figured out I could speak Italian we were doted on for the rest of the evening. I love that, it’s like a secret handshake. The sommelier was from the Amalfi Coast and suggested we try a wine he brought back from there with him to go with our dinner. Sounded good to us so we did, and it was just as an Italian red should be, very earthy. We shared an entree of cured meats, Chris had a squid ink spaghetti with crab, garlic, oil and chilli while I had Buccatini with beef ragu and white wine. I couldn’t go past a dessert either considering they were made fresh on the premises. Affogato for Chris and a ricotta cannolo for me YUM! All very good.

We found the energy to walk back to the hotel after dinner and I had a repeat performance of last night. Fell asleep before I even finished speaking. Chris thinks it’s hilarious that I can talk and sleep. My gorgeous Mamma didn’t name me Gabriella for nothing. Gift of the Gab and yes I can talk underwater....I’ve tried.

I was hoping the Spy Museum might contain some things from the Austin Powers movies but alas they didn't, so I'll leave you with the theme song for the movie instead.
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Liane on

What a treat, 2 blogs for me to read in one day.

A whirlwind tour indeed!! Wow you managed to pack a lot in.

Had to laugh at you falling into bed and asleep talking!!

cafe_travel on

God I was so exhausted, but loved every minute of it. I love seeing new places, I just lament the fact that there is never enough time to get to know them well!
Chris reckons I could nap for Australia. I don't often sleep all that well for a whole night, but give me the chance to nap a few hours here and there...I'm a champion at that! Can sleep anywhere anytime. I've even taken a nap in many lush green parks all over the world mid afternoon.

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