Thursday, July 7, 2011

No Better Place

I enjoyed my second Independence Day here in DC with Michael this past weekend. We were sure to jam-pack it full of barbeque, fireworks and fun in the sun.

After an early office closure on Friday, we headed to the Spy Museum (along with a hundred other tourists). I had heard mixed reviews about the place, but as an admitted nerd, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Reminiscent of Disney World, there was close attention to detail in order to create a kind of "experience" for visitors.

On Saturday, we explored Alexandria, VA via the King Street Metro stop on the Blue line. The town is very accessible with a free trolley for easy shuttling up and down King Street. First, we enjoyed brunch at O'Connell's Irish pub. Then we made quick work of the rest of the street thanks to the debriefing Dana had provided as to the best sites including the Gap Outlet and Candy's Candies. We departed Alexandria via the water taxi which docks at the Georgetown waterfront. I vow to make a return trip with Lauren and Sarah to Alexandria Cupcake as we continue on our cupcake tour.

The boat trip gave me a whole new perspective of the city; I managed to snap some great shots of the monuments and other DC sights. On our return to Georgetown, we rested for a bit and then ventured just down to Wisconsin to eat at Los Cuates, a Mexican restaurant that I had been dying to try. The place was packed and for good reason. The food was delicious! Luckily, I didn't finish my plate and was able to enjoy it a second time for lunch yesterday.

The next morning, we trekked across the Key Bridge to Roosevelt Island, a 91 acre wilderness preserve that commemorates President Theodore Roosevelt. The Island is snaked by a 2 1/2 mile trail and features a 17 foot bronze statue of the President. Again, this adventure offered a new perspective of the city because through the trees, we caught glimpses of the Georgetown skyline.

After our morning hike, we returned to the apartment to prepare for that night's Capitol Fourth Concert dress rehearsal. Consider this one of the foremost insider tips: the Capitol Fourth Concert holds a full dress rehearsal the evening before the actual concert. Before venturing to the Capitol lawn to settle in for the performance, we had lunch at Old Glory on M street. It just wouldn't have been the 4th of July without some finger-licking BBQ. I opted for the foot long hotdog topped with chili and cheese and couldn't have made a better decision.

Amazingly, we left the restaurant unscathed by BBQ sauce or other condiment stains and made our way to the Capitol lawn. We made it through the security line, carved ourselves a spot and were just beginning to get comfortable when an announcement came over the loud speaker asking everyone to leave the lawn in preparation for foul weather.

We headed to Union Station, the closest thing near the Capitol that could offer shelter to such a large crowd. The sky became ominous with frightening rapidity leaving us drenched with only 500 ft. left in our journey to the front doors. On the bright side, Michael had never explored Union Station, so although many of the shops were closed, we were able to enjoy the beautiful architecture while we waited out the storm. Much to our dismay, even after the weather cleared, the dress rehearsal was cancelled for public viewing so we returned to Georgetown without having witnessed the performance.

Nonetheless, we capped the weekend off well. Kristen invited us to watch the fireworks from her new place near U street. We joined the rest of the neighborhood on the large hill outside, crowding the streets and preventing any traffic from crawling through. The view wasn't great, but the atmosphere was inspiring. The crowd was representative of the diverse neighborhood, but despite our differences, there we stood united as Americans.

There truly is no better place to celebrate our country's birthday than in Washington, DC!

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