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  • Day 1 • August 13, 2014

    Photo of the ClubAcela Lounge within Boston's South Station.

    Well, the day has finally arrived. After a month of planning and preparation, Tyler and I are off to our Nation’s Capital. We left home at around 7:00 PM, and were fortunate enough to relax at Club Acela, a VIP club for all Acela Amtrak passengers at South Station, prior to our departure. While we were on the Regional, not the Acela, it was relaxing to hang out there. When we were boarding our train, we were disappointed to find out that there was no business class! However, Amtrak was kind enough to give us our money back on that portion of the ticket, and the drinks were free in the café car, so it was really no big deal. During the ride, we tried to sleep, we hung out in the Café car, had dinner, and made a few friends with the conductors and with some fellow passengers.

  • Day 2 • August 14, 2014

    Photo of the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. The architect was Henry Bacon; the designer of the primary statue – Abraham Lincoln, 1920 – was Daniel Chester French; the Lincoln statue was carved by the Piccirilli Brothers;[2] and the painter of the interior murals was Jules Guerin. Dedicated in 1922, it is one of several monuments built to honor an American president. It has always been a major tourist attraction and since the 1930s has been a symbolic center focused on race relations.

    This morning, we arrived at Union Station a little late, but it was really no problem. We got picked up by Metro Access, the Metro’s Door-to-Door service, and it brought us directly to the Chevy Chase Pavilion. Man, is this hotel awesome! The staff not only checked us in, but also oriented us to the room, got us breakfast, and a staff member and I also checked out the complex and loaded our Metro passes on to our smarttrip cards. Then, we slept for a few hours since we were tired from the long train ride!

    At 1:00 PM, we went on a private tour of some of the Washington, DC attractions. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was great because we got to feel many of the exhibits, and our tour guide was friendly, flexible, and funny! After, I went down to the Manager’s Reception, which consists of free drinks and appetizers. I had a few glasses of wine and talked to several guests, some of whom were from New Jersey. Then, Tyler and I took a bus down to Georgetown, and ate at Chadwick’s. I had crab cakes, he had steak. Then, it was Tyler’s debut experience on the Washington subway, which he enjoyed. Tomorrow and Saturday we are looking forward to more learning experiences!

  • Day 3 • August 15, 2014

    Looking north on Connecticut Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C. Dupont Circle can be seen up the street.

    Our second full day in D.C. had more exciting adventures and surprises! We enjoyed the great cook-to-order breakfast available at the hotel. Different from most hotels, this breakfast does not just have basic items, but also omelets, sausage, bacon, home fries, coffee, tea, and more! Then, we took the amazing Metro system to Faragut North, where Connecticut Avenue is located. This area is downtown Washington, and we stopped off at Starbuck’s, then walked up Connecticut Avenue. The weather was beautiful, and we were actually assisted by someone who explained the various stores and restaurants that were around! Thanks to her, I was able to figure out our dinner place for tonight, which will be reflected upon a bit later. After our walk up to Dupont Circle, we stopped at Krispy Kreme donuts! Man, I wish that they had these in New England. The glazed donuts were to die for. While Tyler is not a big donut fan, he tried them, so hey, that’s all you can ask, right? After that, we felt a bit tired, so we took the Metro back to the hotel. I should mention that different from Boston, there are a lot more exits out of the Metro Stations. Fortunately, the people here are great, so it is actually no big deal if we screw up. We slept for a few hours, and then made our way to College Park, Maryland for a late lunch at Royal Farms. For those of you that don’t know what Royal Farms is, it is traditionally a gas station, with a convenience store/restaurant. They are famous for chicken, and Western fries, which are basically potato wedges. But, this particular Royal Farms was just the restaurant, and we took the Metro out to College Park, where the University of Maryland is located. While it was a bit difficult to get to Royal Farms because Baltimore Avenue closely resembles a highway with cars going by at top speed, we made it and enjoyed our chicken fingers, fries, and lemonade out on their little patio. Then, we decided to take a risk and get on the first random Metrobus that showed up, which was a bus to Wheaton, another part of Maryland. It was quite a long ride, and we got to experience the longest escalator in the Metro System! We then made our way back and prepared for the nightly drink reception. Anza, a friend from Boston who came up here, met us and we chatted over a few drinks. Then, the three of us took the Metro back into town, to Dupont Circle. We ate at the Daily Grill, which that random person told us about earlier in the day. Tyler and I had chicken dishes and it was great as usual. Tomorrow, which is our last day of the Nation's Capital Learning Moment 2014, will be full of more surprises. Some include a half a day in Baltimore where we’ll go to Boardwalk Fries, try their public transit system and go on a narrated cruise, checking out the Washington Nationals game at Nationals Park, trying the new Metro Silver Line, and enjoying Washington DC’s nightlife at its best!!!

  • Day 4 • August 16, 2014

    Photo of people waiting to enter the train at Franconia-Springfield Station. Franconia–Springfield is an island platformed Washington Metro station in Springfield, Virginia, United States. The station was opened on June 29, 1997, and is operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Providing service for the Blue Line, it is the southwestern terminus of the Blue Line, and is located at the junction of Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Frontier Drive. The station serves a suburban area and is mostly used for commuters, with 5,069 spaces – Metro's largest parking garage. It is a major transit hub, providing not only Metro service, but also Virginia Railway Express, Metrobus, and local and intercity bus service, including Greyhound buses. It also served as an Amtrak station for the Northeast Regional line between 2003 and 2010. Amtrak's code for the station was

    To begin our last day in Washington, DC, Tyler and I left the hotel around 9:30, stopped at the convenient Starbuck’s located right below us, and set out to find a French fry place in Alexandria, Virginia. Boardwalk Fries is famous down here, and there are only two locations that are close to DC. To get there, we took the Metro for about 45 minutes to Franconia-Springfield, which is the end of one of the Metro lines. Then, we took a bus that, unfortunately, only ran once an hour, over to the Manchester BLVD shopping center, where Boardwalk Fries, as well as several other stores, are located. We both had grilled chicken sandwiches and enjoyed their great hand-cut fries! Going back, things get interesting. We were taken to a bus shelter and were told that a bus would take us to either the Van Dorn Street, or Franconia-Springfield, Metro stations. I call dispatch and they say that the bus will come at either 1:58 or 2:41. We wait for about an hour and a half, and then we start to have a bad feeling, because nobody else was waiting at the bus stop. So, using Siri on the IPhone, we found a local taxi company, tried our best to explain where we were, and sure enough, we were picked up and were brought back to the Metro station! Problem solved!

    We then made our way back to the hotel, in time for the nightly drink reception. After enjoying a few free drinks, we made our way to Nationals Park, to hopefully stand outside of the park and hear some of the game between the Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Some awesome people helped us out during the course of the night, and not only did we get to the park, but we also bought last-minute tickets for $15 from someone off of the street! Not only that, but we found out that after the game, Martina McBride was giving a concert, so we really lucked out. Apparently, after some Nationals games, they do a concert. After enjoying the Nationals beat the Pirates by a score of 4-3, and enjoying great music, we made our way to Adams Morgan, a popular nightlife neighborhood in the DC area. We walked around, enjoyed a few bars, and got back to the hotel at 2:30 AM! What a great, exhausting, but amazing last day in DC!

  • Day 5 • August 17, 2014

    Because of yesterday, we ended up sleeping in until about noon. We then packed up, ate at the Cheesecake Factory, and made our way to Union Station to begin the journey home on Amtrak’s popular Acela Express! Metro Access, the door-to-door service, didn’t pick us up until late, so we were really cutting it close! Fortunately, we made it to Union Station, and enjoyed our business class seats on the Acela. The conductors were much nicer than during the ride down to DC, and we, like during the last ride, enjoyed dinner and drinks in the Café Car. We got back to Route 128, and The Ride was there to take us home. As Tyler says, “you haven’t lived until you’ve ridden the acela!”