Friday, September 19, 2014

Our East Coast trip...Washington DC- day 1

So I have tried to attack this blog post 3 different ways over a week's worth of time, and to tell you once again that I have been overwhelmed as to how to consolidate this trip into simple fragments without over-blogging this and without over bearing you all with the over 2000 pictures we took (yes, 2000+ pics!) is an understatement!

So I've decided I just have to take the plunge and start somewhere with this one. I'm going to hopefully do more of the talking today, and then making the next few posts more about the pictures. No guarantees though, as there's just lots to tell and I hope that you'll enjoy it and follow along with me.

So here we go...

This was an Anniversary/graduation/8th-grade-makeup/family trip- an all in one kind of vacation because we don't get to travel all that much, and we really did reach for the stars in wanting to cover so much in such little time. But in spending some time looking back at the whole trip now in general- from the hotels we picked, the locations, how we traveled, etc., I think we did pretty well in many ways. Were there things we would have liked to have done different or would have changed? Yes, for sure. Also, let's face it, we all had to do this trip on a budget including my in-laws who we loved having with us on this wonderful journey. We had been saving for this trip, but Jerry and I still had to do a A LOT of research and creative planning to make sure we could do the most possible, still have a great time and not come home with empty pockets. I think we came pretty close to doing that. We were happy with how everything came together, and I'll be sharing some what I consider "trip tips" along the way for someones future travel reference.

Our first stop...Washington DC

Our very favorite hotel was in Washington DC. We stayed at a Residence Inn by Marriott in the cutest little town of Dupont Circle which is apparently known for its night life and for being the LGBT district and we loved it! It was quiet and quaint, we had a Starbucks on the corner (which Chris loved), a 2 story comic book store up the street (for the boys), a vintage bookstore and plenty of posh little restaurants.

It wasn't a fancy hotel, but it incredibly comfortable and stylish. On a trip like this where we were going to spend so much time outside of the hotel, we didn't need much more fan$y, if you know what I mean.  The rooms had a full kitchen and extremely comfy beds. The best part of the hotels we picked, including this one, is that they offered a wonderful hot breakfast every morning and different each day.  So this was a great benefit as we were able to save on at least one meal per day. We all decided that we would definitely go back there again!

The other great thing about this hotel was that it was only a 5 minute walk to the local Metro station which was also beautiful and we took the Metro EVERYWHERE!! The boys were most excited about trying this out for the first time.

The hotel was also located on P street, which we found out on our first day, was one of the streets you could take straight down to Georgetown University. It was one of the most beautiful 20 minute walks we have every taken. Worth every minute and more just to be able to experience and take in the beauty of the brick sidewalks, the houses, and the feeling of all the history in these streets. We had all fallen in love with Georgetown!!

As you come to end of P street was the East entrance to Georgetown University...and Wow! There was no getting around the feeling of its history and beauty. 
Oh how I wished to be a student again!  We actually got to watch a part of one of their football games which Jerry and the guys were happy about.
Free Tours by Foot...

So later that 1st night we took the first of 4 tours provided by a company called Free Tours by Foot. They are a hidden gem on the web which I was ecstatic to find, and happy to plug them here. They are walking tours company which provide name-your-own-price walking tours. So basically the tours are free, but you pay/tip  the tour guide what you think the tour was worth. What a concept! I had never heard of such a thing, but it was an amazing option for us being that we had a group of 7, and your typical double-decker tour buses ranged anywhere from $50-75/person. So DC by Foot tours was reasonably less expensive and the tours were actually nicer because they were made personable with no more than 10-20 people at a time on each tour.

They were great and I totally recommend it to anyone traveling. They have all kinds of tours from monument tours to local food tasting tours- all to fit different time schedules. If you check out their site you'll see that they have satellite company tours in other US cities like New York, New Orleans and even internationally like in Paris and London. Woohoo! This company was super professional and they gave us an amazing experience and I have to say they became the highlight of our trip. 
what you think a tour was worth or what you could afford only after the tour is finished - See more at:
what you think a tour was worth or what you could afford only after the tour is finished - See more at:

We decided our time was best used by taking the following tours with them:
And we loved them so much, that you'll see that in New York we'll end up taking the

So being that you can register ahead of time on line, I was able to carve out a pretty good tour
schedule for us amongst the 4 days we'd be there. Jerry made a week long calendar to show us exactly what we had planned and when, and then where we could throw in some time for something else or unexpected which ended up happening on a few occasions. This was totally helpful in making this trip manageable instead of trying to do things on the fly.

The Twilight Bus Tour
So this is the only DC by Foot Tour that had a minor cost attached to it. We paid $16 a person that basically paid for the gas cost of a small shuttle bus (a tip was still given at then end), and it took you on a fully loaded 3.5 hour tour of all the major DC monuments lit up at night. I highly recommend it!
It was THE BEST way to spend our first full night in this beautiful city.

 Dan King, was our tour guide for the night. We weren't surprised to find out that he was a former History professor who had found his passion in telling everyone else all about the history behind the making, meanings, and behinds the scenes stories about these beautiful monuments. We so enjoyed him. He was super animated, VERY entertaining and funny as well so we were engaged the whole time. The boys made sure to sit upfront just to hear him out. But what impressed us the most was his vast knowledge. There is just no way to repeat all the stories he had for us, but it made all the difference in how we looked at each one as we visited them.

Well we ended the night at the White House and that was just special. To see it in person for the first time is so different than what you expect it to be anyway, but to see it all lit up at night- just really cool! A proud moment for all of us.

So that was our first day in as much detail as possible, and I will do my best to keep the stories and pictures short and as telling as possible.

I hope this recap doesn't come too too late, but here it is. There's more to come...

Thanks for stopping by.

From my corner to yours...Happy Friday!

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