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  • Day 1 & 2 • November 9 & 10, 2017

    An exterior photo of Gordon Biersch; Conveniently located in the heart of Washington, DC on F Street in the old Riggs Bank Building, this architectural beauty displays the traditional elegance of the Capitol. The restaurant can accommodate 450 guests with additional patio seating available. Private banquet facilities are also available for 50-60 guests in the upstairs dining room, with a smaller private room on the main floor accommodating 30-35 persons. Full-restaurant banquets are also available seating up to 400 persons.

    Well, here I go on another adventure, back to Washington, D.C.! As usual, I’m taking a small railroad called Amtrak, as well as staying at my usual hotel, the Embassy Suites! I left home at about 7:30 PM, and relaxed at Club Acela, which is the Amtrak lounge in South Station. It was great, I enjoyed a soda, and our train left on time at 9:30 PM.

    Unlike last time when I traveled in Business class on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional, they had leather seats, It was comfortable, and I also enjoyed some wine in the café car. It was also great to mingle with other passengers, and one of them Joe even knew someone from Perkins. We arrived in to Washington D.C.’s Union Station on time at 7:00 AM, and interestingly, several outlets in the business class car didn’t work, so I had no way to get an Uber to my friend Jen’s house in Dupont Circle. Michelle, an awesome passenger on the train, got me one, and I got to Jen’s at 7:30 AM.

    After relaxing for a few hours, Jen and I walked around, got my transit passes, and enjoyed an early lunch at Gordon Biersch, a popular restaurant chain down south. I enjoyed fish and chips, the chips being their legendary garlic fries, and a homemade beer. It was a great meal to kick off the adventure!

    Jen then drove me to the hotel, and it felt so good to be back. She helped me check in, we walked around the mall, and then I relaxed. At about 5:30, I enjoyed the hotel’s free happy hour, which is one of the reasons that I love this hotel. The wine was good, and since I was traveling, I also enjoyed an awesome burger at the bar. During the happy hour, I met up with a friend, Natalie, from the Couchsurfing website. She is from Iowa, and we chatted, and enjoyed even more drinks after the happy hour ended. She left at about 10:00, and it was an awesome first day in D.C.!

  • Day 3 • November 11, 2017

    Areal photo of D.C.'s National Mall; The landscape portrait,

    What a wild and an awesome day today! After enjoying the hotel’s awesome free breakfast, I went to an event called Catharsis on the Mall. It’s a big festival with music, food, and a variety of workshops on different topics. I took the Metro to Faragut North, and actually walked from there to the mall. While it was very crowded and it was a lot further than I thought, I went by the White House and it was great to get help from a variety of people. I met Chelsea off of the Couchsurfing web site at this event, and attended a workshop about psychedelic beliefs and experiences.

    After that, I had another new experience, and enjoyed lunch out of a food truck. Apparently 5 or 6 food trucks line up on the National Mall on the weekends, and for these big events, so it was great to enjoy chicken fingers and fries out of a food truck. I then made my way to Dupont Circle and met up with Jen. Our first bar was The Goat, which is out in Clarendon, Virginia. The Goat was formerly the Hard Times Café, but we didn’t end up staying since it was loud and crowded! So after a Metro ride all the way out there just to turn around and come back, we went up to the hotel for the free happy hour, which was great as usual. Jen and I both had wine, and they had free snacks as well.

  • Exterior photo of Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant located in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of Washington D.C. The restaurant was successful from the very beginning, with eager diners sometimes waiting hours for an opportunity to dine family-style. The portions of Italian–American cuisine were large, reminiscent of a Sunday night visit to their grandmother’s house, or as they say in Italy, nonna’s casa! The recipes were simple, authentic classics, many of them coaxed out of Italian grandmothers, mothers, and aunts whose ideas of a recipe were a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that. With some trial and error, the chefs celebrated the birth of many of Maggiano’s signature dishes.  With a successful opening at the Clark and Grand location, a second restaurant was opened in Oak Brook, Illinois and two years later in Skokie, Illinois. The decision to open a restaurant outside of Illinois was made, and in 1994 Maggiano’s Little Italy opened in McLean, Virginia at Tyson’s Corner Galleria II. As Tyson’s Corner took off, it became obvious that Maggiano’s had great potential to succeed nationally. With that in mind, Brinker International purchased Maggiano’s Little Italy from Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain you in 1995. Since then, Brinker has grown Maggiano’s from four locations in Illinois to numerous locations across the country.

    Dinner last night was at Maggiano's Little Italy, which is right down the road from the hotel. I enjoyed veal marsala, and Jen had tilapia. After an awesome meal, we went to The Big Hunt and the Lucky Bar, both in Dupont Circle. Dupont Circle was hopping, since it was a Saturday night.

    After that, it was about midnight, and I took the Metro home. However, I fell asleep on the train and ended up in Shady Grove, the last stop! I didn’t realize how far Shady Grove was from the hotel, and since there were no more trains heading back, I got an Uber back, and got back at 2:00 AM. Tomorrow I’m off to Alexandria, and other great surprises!!

  • Day 4 • November 12, 2017

    Exterior photo of Daniel O'Connell's Restaurant & Bar on King street in Alexandria Virginia. ​Located minutes from Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria is nationally recognized for its acclaimed chef-driven restaurants, bustling boutiques and dynamic arts set against a backdrop of 18th- and 19th century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown. Whether you’re here for business or pleasure or are taking a detour from your D.C. getaway, here are the top experiences you must try.

    After an awesome day yesterday of visiting the National Mall and with partying with Jen around the hotel and Dupont Circle, today I ventured out to Alexandria, which is a suburb of Washington, D.C. I met Keri from the Couchsurfing web site, who lives there, and it was great to walk around, to go to the original Hard Times Café, which is one of my favorite bars, and to enjoy Chadwick’s, one of their oldest bars. The boneless chicken wings, burger, and hand-cut fries were great, as well as their homemade beer. Alexandria is a lot quieter than D.C., and we were also joined by another couchsurfer from California.

    After our stroll through Alexandria, I made my way back to the hotel. During this visit, I’ve been getting many more of Metro’s newest trains, which unlike the older ones, they have automated announcements. Soon, all of the old trains will be gone, and Metro will have all new trains. I, once again, enjoyed the hotel’s happy hour, then made my way to Medium Rare Steakhouse, which I discovered during a previous visit. Unlike at most steakhouses, where everything is a la carte, this one has a prefixed menu: Steak, fries, and a salad for $20, and it’s well worth it.

    After dinner, I went to Adams Morgan, which is another neighborhood with bars and restaurants. Because it was a Sunday night, the neighborhood was slow, so I wasn’t there for very long. I did go to my two favorite bars, Shenanigans and Grand Central. I just had one beer at Shenanigans, which was a D.C. exclusive beer, and pretty much walked in then just left Grand Central. I made the last Metro of the night, and got back to the hotel at 11:00 PM.

  • Day 5 • November 13, 2017

    A nighttime shot of downtown Bethesda Maryland; Downtown Bethesda is home to a wealth of art galleries, more than 200 restaurants, two live theatres, several music and dance studios, and numerous designer boutiques and local shops. The major shopping and entertainment center Bethesda Row is also located downtown and is home to national designer stores, dozens of smaller boutiques and restaurants, and a movie theatre. Regardless of your taste for entertainment, you’re sure to find something you love in Bethesda’s vibrant downtown.

    To start off my last day in Washington, D.C., I enjoyed the hotel’s great cook to order breakfast, packed, and relaxed in the suite for a while. Because I wasn’t checking out until 2:00 PM, it felt great to relax after a wild weekend. At about 12:30, I made my way to &Pizza, which is a popular Washington, D.C. chain. The closest one is in Bethesda, Maryland, so it was great to check out a new neighborhood. At this pizza place, with the exception of shrimp, you can pick unlimited toppings and sauces, and it’s only $10! The pizza was amazing, and I had a homemade soda as well.

    After that, I made my way to Union Station, the big train station in Washington, D.C. I was on Amtrak’s Acela Express, and we left at 4:00 PM. Unlike on the ride down, I didn’t get any thing from the café car, since the menu was the same on this leg, and it wasn’t that good on the trip down to D.C. Business class was comfortable, and I arrived in Back Bay at 10:45. I made my way to New Hong Kong, had a quick dinner, then got home at 12:30. As usual, D.C. was amazing!!