Monday, April 20, 2015

Washington DC In Pictures

Every time I say we will go on vacation, I end up working or sick. This time for the first time it was absolutely perfect! Maybe part of the reason why everything was so perfect is the fact that I didn't plan anything myself. Usually the stress of planning a vacation totally ruins it for me.
This time, I was lucky!
We didn't have any time to plan anything, because we decided we were going to DC literally 5 days before we had to leave. In the 10 minutes between deciding that we were going on vacation and realizing I actually didn't need to plan it, I was in full panic mode. I was imagining myself browsing through thousands of websites to find a hotel, planing where we are going to go, what we are going to see, finding gluten free restaurants AND not going broke in the mean time.



And then I remembered that I actually had someone to help me! Being a Bulgarian, I've always taken charge...of everything. I had never ever used traveling agency's services and to me, that was completely foreign concept. I had to plan everything by myself in order for everything to be perfect. Well, turns out I didn't have to. A friend of mine is a travel agent and although we've know each other for years, the thought of asking her for help never crossed my mind, until I started breathing in a paper bag, pacing in the living room and counting the hours before we have to leave.

Calling Barb ( my wonderful, awesome friend and forever travel agent from Destination Memories Travel) was an act of desperation in the moment but it turned out to be the best thing I've ever done for my family. Everyone was extremely happy that I was not a nervous wreck from worry and I appreciated the fact that for once, I didn't have to deal with anything but show up for vacation.

Barb found us an amazing hotel, researched places to eat ( which for me being gluten free was extremely important) and places to see, provided a huge amount of information on how to get around and things to consider, and most importantly, kept in touch with me the whole time when she was planning. Reassuring me that everything is not only done, but done well, is exactly what I needed.



The vacation started amazing! From the warm cookies the hotel provided us with ( which my kids got totally hooked on the whole time we were there) to the amazing beds and the short walk to the metro.
Now, if a total technical disaster didn't fall upon us, it would have been better but we figured it out in the end anyway. My phone died, my camera died, the tablet couldn't charge, we were completely unplugged...and I loved it!
The list of things to see was long: Natural History Museum, Air and Space Museum, The National Art Gallery, The National Archives, The Library of Congress, Lincoln Memorial, The Capitol, The Indian Museum, The White House and more, but we managed to see it all!
I couldn't care less that some of our best moments were not captured on camera, because WE WERE THERE. We enjoyed our crappy selfies in the rain...because it was FUN!


 The weather was so much nicer than the freezing temperatures we left at home that we didn't mind or grumble that it was raining on the first day. It wasn't so much raining, as it was sprinkling, but the sun was just playing hide and seek.

 We even had the opportunity to take a couple of pictures when it was bright and sunny with crisp Spring colors. Secretly, we wished that next picture will be in front of the big pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris, but this one was nice too!


The kids took the opportunity to shake the hand of any statue they found during our stay. Museums, on the street, in the hotel...if it was a statue, it was definitely on the list. Actual proof bellow :-)

Then again, Ellie didn't have a problem striking a pose in Thomas Jefferson's library collection, as a true master of the written word. I will talk about the Library of Congress in a bit, but by far this was our favorite place. 
Ellie's flower umbrella was a nice touch without which this picture (left bellow) would simply not be the same. 

Kalin was simply mesmerized by the architecture and his favorite thing was playing a geo-cashing game with all the landmarks. (right below)




As true tourists, we had to take a picture with one of the two blooming magnolias in front of the Capitol. We even put our martenizci on it. From snow to this beauty...we just didn't want to leave!

 We found a blooming tree, we found what fun it is to use the metro, to eat Native American food ( Gosh, these salads and soups were amazing and there were plenty of gluten free options too!). Then we found that we love being in a big city where you do walk a lot. Alex and I grew up in a big city but the kids have never actually experienced what it is not to rely on a car the whole time. It was very liberating and it made the whole adventure even more exciting.

We loved Washington DC but we can't say the same about NYC. We've been in NYC so many times and never loved it even a bit. In DC everyone was so much nicer, friendlier and more welcoming. Even the museum staff was friendly (not even close to the NYC Metropolitan museum's grumps)
On a brighter note, we found Nemo! He was hiding somewhere between Dory and the flat guy. LoL


I am also glad that my phone actually worked for this picture(left), so I have proof for years to come that they do love each other...sometimes. :-)

 We were in DC only three days but the huge amount of fun just couldn't measure up even to an elephant bone! ( right)
As Dr. Seuss would say.." Oh, the places we went..." and the wonders we've seen, I would add. We even got to knock on the BIG DOOR. :-) No, the door is not Photoshopped, not even that natural sculpture on the right is.

We saw things move, we saw things being still, we saw things dead, we saw things alive...but nothing compared to the bugs!
I was surprised at how interested I was in the bugs and how little interest showed the kids. Well, I kept my distance and enjoyed the bugs from afar, but still it was quite fascinating.
The picture on the left shows a guy holding the doppelganger of a praying mantis. This unique bug by the way is vegetarian.


 
Between the bugs, the ducks, the flies and the mummies, everyone got tired. This was the first hotel that we actually enjoyed the beds in.  Usually the mattresses' covers make you sweat horribly. These were nice and comfy. Ellie and Kalin can attest to that. (left bellow). As you can tell, a little stuffed animal was a stowaway in our luggage but Ellie "saved" it and snuggled it for the whole trip. Her brother preferred to snuggle with his tablet instead.

In the mean time, I just enjoyed the small step for humanity but gigantic step for me- my first visit of the Library of Congress. Before we left New York State, I said: "I can miss anything else, but LOC I am definitely going to see!" And I did.


We got in at the very last minute with the very last tour and I was afraid that we would have to be escorted by security, because I didn't want to leave. The picture on the left is me, digging heels in the Library of Congress' second floor and not wanting to leave.

By the way, this shot was taken across from the exact spot where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution used to be until they were moved.

We did see both ( the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) by the way and it was totally worth the long wait. I highly recommend it if you ever decide to visit DC. There you can also see two of the biggest canvases in the US. The murals are actually paintings, which I didn't know until we got there.  As far as Library of Congress goes, it was not only everything I expected but even better.


The way I felt so small in the Library of Congress, the same way Ellie felt overwhelmed in the Air and Space museum, until we ate the space ice cream that is. Let me tell you... the space ice cream wasn't a huge hit and I am pretty much convinced that none of my kids would ever consider an astronaut career simply because of the food. Well, maybe because of the living space too. We saw the "sleeping area" and "bathing area" that astronauts use...and it wasn't pretty. 


Ellie also accomplished one of her goals for the trip- a picture with Rexy! Not as exciting to me, but it meant the world to her, so we were all happy when we found Rexy and he fit us in his busy schedule for a shot.
As with every  awesome vacation we had to find the quirkiness of the city in the most (un)usual places, like the White House for example. Bellow you can see a marijuana supporter that was very eager to pose for us and everyone else who thought being at the While House on Easter Sunday is the best place to express your views on anything, from nuclear apocalypse to the price of pot. (below)


 After the Native American Museum, we were all about totem poles and we decided to make one (bellow) with whatever we had- our shadows. Pretty neat, right?

We saw so much for these three days and yet so much was left unseen. It was so bittersweet leaving on Easter Sunday, but we promised each other that we would be back. 

Goodbye, DC! Welcome Spring!

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