Local Turns Tourist, or the Story of a Brit Who Visited the Colonies

During the recent holiday week, this NoVa local turned hostess as a Brit came to town, payback for a whirlwind weekend in tony London. Saturday night found me at the international arrivals gate at Dulles, the perfect location for setting off the holiday mood – everyone grinning, hugging and smooching as the hometown kids greeted their overseas guests for Thanksgiving. Decorum flew out the window as each party tried to out-greet those who came before. AR finally emerged from the queue to my own version of grins and greetings, and the visit commenced with the rousing entertainment of a Gainesville dinner with my parents at Bungalow Ale House.

Sunday morning dawned entirely too early, but we made a lazy entrance to IHOP before meeting my dad at the gun show at the Dulles expo center. I don’t know which was more disturbing – the mother with her child in the stroller buying a handgun, or the man in line at Starbucks afterward with a gun strapped to his belt ordering multiple lattes. Looking for a some peace and quiet, we stalked two ladies in the corner with the comfortable chairs who stood in front of said chairs – ready to leave – for five minutes before we were able to pounce. The wait was worth it, and we enjoyed a few minutes of rest before taking a sunset drive through Aldie (passing the British Pantry on the way) and stopping for drinks at the Red Horse Tavern in Middleberg. Any visit to NoVa wouldn’t be complete without the Lake Manassas Wegman’s, so we made a stop on the way home for dinner ingredients and cooked spaghetti and garlic bread. One of my favorite NoVa spots is the deck we have in the back yard and it was lovely sharing a glass of wine on the deck, looking at stars (even though AR and I nearly came to blows about whether or not the star in the distance was Venus or Jupiter). The evening finished with a rousing game of Texas Hold ‘Em.

Monday we hit the tourist circuit like there was no Tuesday: We took the metro to Federal Triangle and walked to the Washington Monument. It was a view worth seeing if you haven’t yet. Somehow in my thirteen years in the city I’d missed it – don’t make the same mistake. We had a quick coffee break at Caribou Coffee, followed by a walk up past the White House and then along the National Mall to the US Capitol for an incredible tour. I highly recommend that as well. We took the metro from Capitol South to McPherson Square and stopped for a drink at Off the Record in the Hay-Adams (a bit pretentious) and then we walked to Blue Duck Tavern for drinks and dinner. A-mazing.

Tuesday morning we took the metro to Dupont Circle for coffee, then walked thorough a few streets before making our way across the Buffalo Bridge on Q Street to north Georgetown. We had a lovely tour of Dumbarton House with a long-time docent before heading back to Dupont for lunch at Cosi. We walked south in the rain to M Street, and then walked the length of M Street (with a quick stop at Barnes and Noble) to the middle of the Key Bridge, back down M Street and up Wisconsin Ave to Ralph Lauren before finally parking it for drinks at Mr. Smith’s. This is, without doubt, one of the coolest bars in DC. We caught the metro from Foggy Bottom to Courthouse for dinner at Four Courts – fish and chips for AR and I (not quite authentic, but tasty). It was an incredibly long metro ride home, and we were both happy to turn in.

Wednesday we started the day with Caribou Coffee, then walked to the National Mall, through the World War II monument, along the Reflecting Pool, to the Lincoln Memorial. AR was sufficiently impressed. Our goal after that was the Tidal Basin, however we made our way there a somewhat circuitous though leisurely stroll along the Potomac River – that great source of commerce and industry, doorway to the world, etc. (I’m asking for a GPS for Christmas…) Luckily, Thomas Jefferson’s monument distracted AR from my horrid directional skills, and we made our way back to the National Mall after our visit, stopping at for a hot dog from a cart (which AR hated) on the way to the Air and Space Museum (which AR loved). We followed that up with a quick run through the East Building at the National Gallery of Art before stopping for a quick snack in the concourse between buildings. After a quick tour of a few rooms in the West Building, we made our way to the Natural History Museum – one of our favorites! After we’d had our fill of elephants and diamonds and forensic science, we took the metro to Kings Street, walking the length of that gorgeous street before having a drink at Murphy’s Pub and dinner at the Columbia Firehouse.

Thursday turned out to be Thanksgiving, and my description of beef stick (a tube of compressed meat) didn’t turn out much better than my description of the holiday itself (well, there were these pilgrims and indians, see? and they helped each other with food one winter and now we celebrate by stuffing ourselves and arguing amongst ourselves about the proper way to cut the turkey). Luckily we ordered the main components from Wegman’s and everyone was on their best behavior. My sister and nephew came over for the chocolate waffles, cheese and beef stick, mimosas and the Macy’s Day Parade. AR and I played football with my nephew, dad and brother-in-law, watched American football games and settled in to enjoy the family dinner. To allow dinner ample time to settle, we watched a black and white film entitled BeyondChristmas, which moved very slowly but had a good story.

Friday morning we had brunch with my sister – Thanksgiving turkey leftovers with smoked gouda in a souffle – delicious! We then went bowling, trying to erase the stain on my character that I’d received while playing AR in London. It’s tragic to report that I lost again, though I’d like to take this opportunity to blame the 10-year-old boy in the lane next to mine who rolled his ball into my gutter in the eighth frame of the second game – I believe that made all the difference. After the game, AR and I took the metro to Metro Center for a brisk walk in the freezing cold to the JW Marriott. We had an amazing room on the 14th floor with an incredible view of the National Mall we’d been tramping across for two days. We had dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill (stimulating conversation with Regina and her All-American son Thom at the bar next to us – they are what America is all about). We saw A Christmas Carol at the Ford’s Theatre – a lovely and imaginative production that we both truly enjoyed. We had post-show drink at the JW Marriott bar before returning to the 14th floor for a well-deserved rest.

Saturday morning saw us back for brunch at Old Ebbitt Grill – too lazy to make it to Dupont for Kramerbooks. We made it home in time to dress up and attend the ceremony/cocktail party of some dear friends renewing their wedding vows. The final night was spent with the fam at the Lake Manassas Bertucci’s – tiramisu to go.

I always love being a tourist in my own city, and AR’s visit provided the perfect opportunity to show off DC’s highlights. There are still so many neighborhoods to cover. I feel privileged that I get to live here and enjoy all this city has to offer.

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2 thoughts on “Local Turns Tourist, or the Story of a Brit Who Visited the Colonies

  1. Moriah says:

    Girl, this sounds so amazing.
    I would love to have you as my tour guide in DC…even if I have done it a million times, haha! ❤ I have been enjoying reading your writing this morning with my coffee under my kotatsu.

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