I’m not going to lie when I arrived I was worried. I was doing so well on the Amtrak, I got off there and even navigated our way through the Metro system with Faye, the pushchair and the rucksack to where the hotel directions told me to get off BUT once I got off the Metro could I find the hotel, NO! The hotel had given me directions for something like an 8 minute walk but I got so confused, walked around for 45 minutes and then gave up an resulted in getting a taxi which embarrassingly took about 4 minutes. It turns out I came out the wrong side of the Metro station AND there are two N Nash Streets and I followed the wrong one – how confusing is that!?
Major differences I noted instantly from New York are; the air – it’s SO clean, it feels so quiet as there’s half as many people and its got a few killer hills whereas New York was flat!
Anyway, this hotel is The Virginian Suites, Arlington. Arlington is famous for its cemetery and is ten minutes from Washington. We paid £80 per night here for five nights. The suite is huge, it has a full kitchen, then bedroom/lounge, a walk in wardrobe, a bathroom and a dressing room. Faye loves it and it is nice to have a bit of space. The hotel also has a gym, sauna and outside swimming pool which we’ve used everyday. As we have a kitchen, the day we arrived I went to the supermarket and got food for the week. I wanted to use this time to save money by eating in when possible. The hotel is a ten minute walk to the nearest Metro station, Rosslyn, and supermarket, Safeway. The hotel runs a continual shuttle to and from the Metro during week days between 7am and 7pm which has been very reliable. The wifi has been a bit dodgy here in the room but we are up on the top floor so that may be why, but there are also four computers free to use in the lobby.
We mainly used the metro as a way of getting around. I purchased a ‘Smart Trip’ card which is like an Oyster card. The card is $10 of which $5 can be redeemed as travel credit. I also put in another $20 for the rest of the week and didn’t have to put anymore money on. Children under 5 travel free. If you don’t buy a SmartTrip card you have to pay an extra dollar on top of your fare for a paper ticket so purchasing the card is much more cost effective if you’re going to be travelling everyday.
We didn’t dine out at all whilst here in Washington as we had our own kitchen and I wanted to save some money. But we grabbed some snacks in one of the cafes that are located by all the major memorials (i.e Lincoln, Jefferson) which sold souvenirs and light lunches – they were good value and easy to find. We also ate in a ‘Fro-zen-yo’ which is a self serve frozen yoghurt bar. We both loved it. They have like 20 flavours and you fill up your pot and add toppings with are either fruit or sweets/chocolate. The payment is calculated by weight. I paid $7 for both of ours and neither of us could finish them! It was located right outside the Smithsonian Zoo.
The first day we were here we went to see the Pentagon and the Pentagon memorial which was a really beautiful place. You are actually not allowed to take photos of the Pentagon and security was very tight so I didn’t dare try! That evening we went to a baseball game. The following day we went on a DC Duck tour. That cost $68 for the both of us. Faye wanted to do that as opposed to an ordinary bus tour. It was around 90mins and really informative. Faye enjoyed the fact it went on land and in the water. They’re more enjoyable for children I think. We then spent the rest of that day and the following day finding all the memorials and statues up an down The Mall. Theres so many things to see along the way and Faye enjoyed photographing them all. It has to be said there is a lot more walking to do here than in the other cities we’ve visited so far and for Faye it was a necessity to have a pushchair.
I would of liked to of had a few more days in Washington as there is so much to see and do. Some days i was walking from 9am to 6pm and pushing Faye in the pushchair which was quite challenging on my own, so if i had a few more days i could of taken my time a little more.
The Smithsonian Institute is a collection of around 18 museums and exhibits as well as a zoo, all of which is owned by the government and is all free to enter. We managed to spend an afternoon at the zoo which was fab, but didn’t get much chance to get to any of the others. I would highly recommend the zoo, always one to please the children and its FREE. Head straight for the Giant Pandas as they’re a huge hit and queues can sometimes build there. When it gets hot they have mist showers along the pathway which are nice and refreshing. Wear comfortable shoes as there’s a fair amount of uphill walking and allow a good few hours to get around it.
We are up and onto Philadelphia tomorrow. It’s going way too quickly!