Everyone told us we were mad to fly all the way from California to D.C. to spend 36 hours there.
They weren’t wrong.
We were on the road to Burbank airport before 5am (shudder). We made good time, got through security, but couldn’t really find anything we wanted to eat, so decided we’d just grab a big lunch during our layover at Denver. The flight went well and we touched down at Denver, only to find out that this is the airport from hell. It literally took our entire layover to power-walk from one gate to the other. Starving by this point, we resigned ourselves to buying lunch on the plane—only for me to then discover that 90+% of the food offered was filled with nuts. Including a ham and cheese sandwich. Who does that?! United Airlines, that’s who.
By the time we landed in Dulles, I was starving, so of course it took nearly two hours to get to Elisa’s house. It was so great to see her and her gorgeous apartment! We pretty much went straight out to dinner, to a lovely restaurant called Matchbox… which uses peanut oil in its fryers. Eek! However our server was amazing and found out what didn’t get put in the fryers so I knew what I could eat and what I couldn’t. She was fabulous.
The next day was exploring day! Our first stop was the Library of Congress which was breathtakingly beautiful. It’s the largest library in the world, so the bibliophile inside me was fangirling so hard.
After the Library we headed for the National Air and Space Museum. Elisa offered to show me the Wright Brothers exhibit—”they were the first people to fly!”—and I quickly explained why you don’t say that to a Kiwi 😉 We wandered around the museum for a good couple of hours and also got lunch while we were there. Unfortunately, my dodgy knee decided to really play up at this point and the thought of miles more walking was freaking me out. Elisa had the good idea of a bus tour! We googled it and found one that stopped outside, so we headed out intending to buy a ticket. As we headed towards the stop, we got accosted by someone from a different bus tour (DC Trails) trying to sell us a ticket. Normally I hate street sales, but looking at the map it was actually a much better route for the same price, so we jumped on that bus instead.
The tour was AMAZING. It was a rooftop bus so we could see and take photos of absolutely everything. We probably spent about 2 hours on the bus all told, and got a whirlwind overview of the monuments and landmarks of D.C. without the tons of walking around. We got off the bus at the National Museum of American History, as Elisa wanted to show us the Star-Spangled Banner. We were at this museum until closing. I found the war exhibit really hard, the American way of looking at war and their involvement in it is very different to ours. It was also quite funny seeing the World War 2 exhibit basically start at 1941—we always learn from early 1930s and everything that lead up to the outbreak of war—the exhibit was basically like “in 1941, Europe was having some issues, then Pearl Harbor got bombed” which is quite different to the way we normally see it!
After the museum closed, Elisa took us to Ben’s Chili Bowl. This is an amazing restaurant—opened by a black couple back when D.C. was still segregated, it managed to stay open during the race riots and is still thriving today. I really don’t think you can leave D.C. without trying their chili cheese fries!! I would eat them forever if I could.
We left again at 6:30am the following morning. It was a whirlwind tour, I loved it, but we will definitely stay a little longer next time!!!