Monday, 28 May 2012

Matt's American Adventure: Washington DC

Keen to not let my only experience of America be Pittsburgh and Ohio the Echement and Pecori clan planned a four day trip to the Capital, which I had been really looking forward to ever since we arrived. 

Myself, Kate, Phylis, Jim Rob and Bev hit the road last Monday and began the 5 hour drive, on route we stopped of at a Gas station called Sheets, which just happens to be one my favourite places to eat as their made to order sandwiches are fantastic. Sheets also offer cheap drink refills and after seeing Jim with a Sheets 'Fizzonator' I  had to get one of my own, its awesome! Sheetz = Two Thumbs Up!
That afternoon we stopped at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center where some amazing aircraft are on show plus the Space Shuttle Discovery. It was fantastic to get up close to real pieces of history including the Enola Gay and artifacts from the Apollo missions. Also Bev and I were the only ones brave enough to have some fun in a couple of flight simulators :) It was a great start to our trip despite the fact that they had an Air-France Concorde on display!
 That night we had dinner at the Bangkok Bistro where I had my first proper Curry for a long long time, delicious, Two Thumbs Up!

The following day we went on a guided bike tour of the city which was really good fun and a perfect way to see all the monuments, the White House and other places of interest (thankfully the rain that threatened didn't come). Our guide was excellent and even the Americans in our group learned something new. I highly recommend you do the same if you get the chance. 
After the bike tour we had lunch and I got the chance to tick another essential item off my 'to eat' list, the Philly Cheese Steak. It went down very easy, although the one Kate made for me back in Africa was better, Thumbs Up!
We were left with just enough time to check out one of the many Smithsonian museums,  now one thing I should mention here is that ALL of the Smithsonian zoos and museums are FREE, and that I think is pretty amazing. We decided on the National Museum of American History, I was keen to go here as I was informed they had Seinfeld's puffy shirt on display and Kate wanted to see an original Kermet puppet. But as the Cleverley luck would have it the Puffy Shirt was no longer on display. Kate was able to meet Kermet though.
Just before dinner we popped into the National Archives and saw the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence before heading over to the Cocina Mexicana restaurant the Oyamel; tacos, meatballs, tuna, quesadillas, guacamole, enchiladas all phenomenally good, Two Thumbs Up!

The next morning was a visit to the Smithsonian National Zoo, where we able to meet up with a good friend and former CCF intern Ryan who now works for the Smithsonian and is based at the zoo. We could only talk for a few minutes but we made plans to meet up later for drinks. Another friend from our CCF times Dorothy was also able to meet up and we had a great time catching up whilst looking at the Pandas, Big Cats and Elephants.
For dinner we went to a Sushi Restaurant called Sei - the Wasabi guacamole was a revelation and the 'Fish and Chips' inspired sushi rolls delicious, again I can only award Two Thumbs Up! Kate and I then left to meet up with Ryan and we were introduced to a great hole in the wall type bar in a less touristy part of town and enjoyed a drink up on the roof top.

Our final morning was spent at the Newseum, a museum about the history of news reporting. The Newseum is one of Washington's newest and not under the Smithsonian umbrella and therefore is one you have to pay for. It was highly recommended to us by our bike tour guide and I'm glad he did because it was extremely interesting and very well designed. An unforgettable part is the 9/11 exhibition complete with the antenna that was on top of the South Tower. Its hard to believe it has been 10 years since that day and reliving what happened was heartbreaking but learning about the history of that now famous footage was very interesting. 
Other sections that were highlights were an FBI exhibit and a Berlin Wall exhibit complete with the largest sections of the wall outside of Berlin (disappointingly there was no mention of the Hoff and his role in bringing in it down!).  One very cool feature of the museum was a floor that has all the front pages from newspapers that day from all over the world, including Namibia!  I also got to meet up and have some coffee with another CCF friend Liz. I have to say the the server at the coffee shop was quite taken with my accent and I think would have accepted if I had proposed!
After lunch it was sadly time to hit the road, we had seen a lot but there was so much more I would have liked to have seen. I was hugely impressed with Washington DC, there is so much to do and the food was sensational! I definitely hope to go back.

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