Our East Coast Adventure: Washington, DC

Ok, friends – this is the last recap of our trip and then I promise to get back to regularly scheduled programming. Before our trip, and even throughout it, more and more people told me they had plans to visit either Philly or DC soon, so I hope these can give you a few ideas of things to do or places to eat!

Last Wednesday, Sarah and I drove from Philly down just past DC to visit J$ in his hometown. We got to hang out with his wife and kids (and snuggle with J. Nickel!) then grabbed lunch downtown and got a few history lessons re: the area from J.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I’m partnered up with him on Rockstar Finance. We talk almost every day, but it was really nice to hang out in person and physically see all the things we talk about. The only thing is… we forgot to take pictures! Ugh! Guess I’ll just have to get over there again soon (and probably get a new tattoo this time, eh friend?). 😉

After lunch, we drove back up to DC and checked into the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, where we found these sweet treats waiting for us.

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown

We went out for Thai food (at I-Thai Restaurant on M Street), which might’ve been one of the healthiest things we’d eaten up until that point…

Pad Thai at I-Thai Restaurant on M Street

Pad Thai at I-Thai Restaurant on M Street

…and then we stopped in at Georgetown Scoops. Oops! (But seriously, how can you say no to cinnamon cookie dough or toasted coconut ice cream!?)

"Cool Treats" from Georgetown Scoops

“Cool Treats” from Georgetown Scoops

We walked along the canal with our ice cream, and spotted all kinds of cute animals in the water, including baby geese and turtles!

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Buildings Lining the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Buildings Lining the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Then we made our way down to the Georgetown Waterfront just in time to see this beautiful rainbow and sunset. No filter needed here. Georgetown is beautiful.

Georgetown Waterfront

Georgetown Waterfront

The next morning, the Ritz-Carlton treated us to their Yoga Brunch package, which includes a private yoga class with their instructor plus a three-course brunch (and bottomless drinks, which I swapped out for lattes). It was probably 23°C/74°F in the garden, where we had class at 8am, and the warmer temps made for an even better workout. That might’ve been my favourite morning of our whole trip.

Yoga Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

Yoga Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown

After that, we checked out of the Georgetown hotel and into the Ritz-Carlton right in the city, where we were surprised with another tray of sweets… with the hashtag we’d been using on Instagram and Twitter! (You’d better believe these didn’t last long…)

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC

From there, we headed out for a day of sightseeing… and a pit stop at one of the food trucks for lunch.

Tacos from the Far East Taco Grille Food Truck

Tacos from the Far East Taco Grille Food Truck

The second hotel was fairly close to the White House, so we started our afternoon there. I have to admit: it seemed smaller than I’d imagined. And it was so much closer to the street than I thought it would be. (No zoom was used in this picture. Here’s an aerial shot if you’re curious.)

The White House

The White House

Then we took a long walk (it felt long because of how hot it was, anyway) over to Lincoln Memorial, so we could get this shot of the Washington Monument.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

We walked up and said “hi” to Abe, and stayed there for a while so we could avoid the sun. I don’t think I can explain how hot it was that day. Temps reached 34°C/94°F but it was mostly the humidity that killed us. We hopped into any spot of shade that we could, and drank litres upon litres of water to stay hydrated. But after a few hours of walking, we were just beat… so we got into a cab (air conditioning for the win) and went back to the hotel, so we could relax before dinner.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

On Thursday night, we met Amanda for dinner. After years of chatting online and on the phone, it was so nice to finally meet in person. 🙂

Dinner with Amanda

Dinner with Amanda

She took us to Founding Farmers, which Sarah and I both loved and wished we could’ve gone back to over and over again.

Chicken Pot Pie at Founding Farmers

Chicken Pot Pie at Founding Farmers

Red Velvet Cake at Founding Farmers

Red Velvet Cake at Founding Farmers

After dinner, we walked down to Tonic, where we met up with some of Sarah’s readers and Retire Before Dad. We had a couple drinks there (although my virgin mojito was never brought to me, boo) and chatted about all things blog + work-for-yourself-related, then went back to the hotel and passed out fairly early.

In the morning, we said goodbye to the Ritz-Carlton and checked into the Grand Hyatt for our last night. While it was a little strange to check into a new hotel every day in DC, each one was in a different location, so we got to see a few different areas of the city. The Hyatt was around more tourist attractions, which I don’t normally love, but it was also close to a lot of good restaurants. We grabbed a seat at Le Pain Quotidien and fueled up for a second day of sightseeing.

Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien

Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien

For our last day, we decided to visit a couple of the museums. Thanks to everyone who reminded us that most of them were free (and air conditioned)! We started at the Natural Museum of American History, where we saw everything from Julia Child’s kitchen to Abe Lincoln’s carriage, to dozens of inauguration dresses worn by first ladies over the years and even the original star-spangled banner sewn in 1813. (We weren’t allowed to take pics of that, but it was HUGE.) We ended up spending almost 3 hours in that one museum.

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Then we walked down the street and over to the National Gallery of Art, which is currently home to an original oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci. The details in his work are unbelievable. I couldn’t get close enough to capture all the tiny lines and details painted throughout each square centimetre, so you’ll have to take my word for it. 🙂

The National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art

Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1474/1478)

Ginevra de’ Benci by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1474/1478)

From there, we dared to face the heat again, to walk over to the Capitol Building. Worth it? I guess. It was disappointing that it was under construction, but still cool to see. And then our feet were sore from all the walking we’d done, so we hopped in another cab back to the hotel before dinner…

The United States Capitol

The United States Capitol

…which was a feast at Shake Shack. Nom nom nom.

My First Shake Shack Experience

My First Shake Shack Experience

Of all the cities we visited, I have to say that Washington, DC was my favourite. With that being said, I feel like we got jipped with the crazy hot weather. Temps are going down this week, which would’ve made it so much easier to walk and explore more… but what can you do, eh? I’d love to go back in a slightly cooler season and have a few extra days to explore more of the museums (really want to go to Newseum!) and see the monuments at night.

On Saturday morning, we made one final pit stop at Baked and Wired (thank you to everyone who made that reco!) then hit the road. We drove for 4 hours back to NYC, then faced some crazy flight delays and ended up getting home 3 hours later than we were supposed to. In the end, I think we travelled for something like 21 hours that day… a good reminder that it’s not always glamorous! But I couldn’t have asked for a better trip or travel partner.

Soy Latte from Baked and Wired

Soy Latte from Baked and Wired

In sad news, my TOMS did not make it out of our trip alive. I can’t even tell you what happened to them, other than they slowly started falling apart a little more each day… and then this happened. Ouch. This is also a bit of a loss for the shopping ban, as I’m not allowed to buy new shoes until July 7th. Good thing the weather has warmed up here. I think it’ll be sandal season from here on out!

Goodbye, TOMS

Goodbye, TOMS

My Budget for the Trip

When we decided to go on this trip, Sarah and I knew we both wanted to save money wherever possible – but 10 days is a long time to go away, especially to the U.S. when the Canadian dollar is so low. I told myself I was comfortable spending up to $2,000. We’re still waiting for a few credit card transactions to go through and show us what the exchange rate was, but here’s a rough idea of what my total cost added up to:

Flight = $250
Hotels (incl. a couple Wi-Fi charges) = $630
Rental Car/Gas/Cabs = $235
Amtrak = $125
Broadway Show = $138
Food/Fun = $530

Total Cost: $1,908

So, not bad – especially considering that 65% of that was spent on travel-related expenses (flight, hotels, cabs, car, train) and only 35% was on food/fun/the show.

The two biggest costs we saved on were our flights and hotels. I think I mentioned it in the first recap, but we used $350 worth of WestJet dollars + a $99 companion flight voucher to bring our flight costs down to just $250/each. (The voucher is one of the bonuses that comes with the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard, which we both have.) And then we were so grateful that the Ritz-Carlton hosted us for 4 nights, and we used Hotwire to book all our other hotels. (You don’t know what you’re going to get but it’s cheaper than most other travel sites can offer you.)

As for food… we didn’t really worry about the cost (or the calories lol). I brought $400 US down with me and only had to use my credit card for a few extra things. So I spent ~$45 US/day on food, which isn’t bad considering we almost always had sit-down meals at restaurants. (And ice cream. There was a lot of ice cream.)

Looking back now, I wouldn’t change anything about our trip. I think 10 days was the perfect amount of time to log-off from the real world and explore a handful of new cities, and I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better travel partner. Over the course of our trip, Sarah and I’s communication went from full sentences to strings of random words to just noises. As Kate says, that means we are now sisters. Sisters who need to go on a serious detox diet and kick our new ice cream addictions. 😉