dc tales: days 3-5.

Our third day started extra early with a 90 minute cruise to Mt. Vernon.  We spent 3 hours there touring the grounds and eating.  I had some sort of peanut butter and water chestnut soup.  Just being adventurous, you know how it is.  With another 90 minute cruise back, I finally began to develop the tan I had hoped Atlanta would grant me.  We spent the rest of the day visiting all of the other memorials:  Jefferson, FDR, Korean, Lincoln, and Vietnam.  It was horribly hot, but our timing was blessed and we got hit with a lot of sprinklers walking between two of the monuments.  That might have been the highlight of the day.  All of that walking paired with all of the day before’s walking meant I got to have my first taxi ride.

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I think the fourth day was my favorite.  We walked to Capitol Hill and then went over to one of the Library of Congress buildings.  That building is the nicest building I’ve ever seen.  We got to see Thomas Jefferson’s library, but none of the actual library since we weren’t part of a tour.  Next we walked through the Grant Memorial.  There were ducks there.  The things look like such idiots with their heads down in the water.  We were on our way to the Museum of Crime and Punishment when I noticed a building ahead called Red Velvet Cupcakes.

We of course stopped, and I had some delicious cupcakes.  I think my favorite was the summer cupcake.  It was lemony with cream cheese icing and shredded coconut.  Back to the museum–I really liked it; it just has a really cool set up.  My brother had told me I would like the handcuff jewelry in the gift shop.  I wanted a pair of earrings but they didn’t have any, and for this reason, we stopped at the International Spy Museum’s gift shop.  They had some.  I bought them.  We went to the wax museum after this and had some fun with the presidents.

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I was able to convince my family to let me find a Thai restaurant for dinner.  We went to Mai Thai, and it was delicious.

On the way home the next day, we went to Toby’s Dinner Theater in Maryland.  They were putting on Anything Goes.  It was cool, and we got a lot of good food.

Random:  One day while we were trying to catch the subway at Metro Station, there was a huge hold up because someone had jumped on the tracks earlier on that rail-line.  We had to wait a long time for the trains to start coming again.  My dad and I managed to shove our way on to the second train, but my mom and brother had to catch the third.  I legitimately mean I shoved people to get through.  That’s one of the things I learned was necessary in Atlanta.  Why this story is of note though, is because just a few days ago I was at dinner when my friend Mike started talking about how he spent his summer there.  It turns out we were both in the station for this event.  Small world.

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dc tales: days 1 & 2.

For the past few years, the idea of living in D.C. has been tossing about in my head.  There are so many opportunities there in the financial math/economics industry, and I think I would really enjoy working for the BEA or BLS.  This being said, before this month, I had never been to the capital.

If the first place my family stopped was called Schmankerl Stube, you know this vacation will have to be interesting.  Schmankerl Stube is a Bavarian restaurant in Maryland that my dad wanted to try.

Vacation Lesson 1: No one likes Bavarian food. If you’re going to go Eastern European, go German.

For dinner we went to Medieval Times.  I got pretty skeptical when the first thing they gave me was a paper crown.  Those are only acceptable at Burger King.  My disdain for the place only continued as we waited for the doors to open.  By the time I left, my opinion had almost taken a 180.  The food was delicious, and my dad’s over-enthusiasm for eating a ginormous hunk of chicken with his bare hands was hilarious.  The jousting was a bit too obviously choreographed, but entertaining anyway.  The knights did have to do some skill games, so those were cool.  It’s the kind of thing you can definitely get into if you want.  My brother lost his voice cheering, but I’ve always been more apt to booing.  We were assigned one knight to root against, so that worked out for me.  The show wasn’t just jousting though; there was a sort of play built around it.  The acting by the king and princess was horrendous.  So bad, it almost beat out the free-flying falcon as my least favorite part.  Almost.

Vacation Lesson 2: You are never safe from birds.

Day two started off with an early morning shuttle ride.  On the shuttle with us was this other family.  They come into play later.  This day I got to experience the D.C. subway system.  When my mom came to visit me in Atlanta, she told me D.C.’s subway was nicer.  Here’s my breakdown of D.C. versus Atlanta:

Pro: More lines.  You can get pretty much anywhere in D.C. by subway. ATL only has North/South and East/West lines.  Everywhere else you have to take a bus to, or in my case, walk.

Cons: Padded seats–ATL’s seats were hard plastic.  In my mind that translates to more sanitary.  The smell–for the most part, Atlanta didn’t have one. D.C. was often rank.

Anyway, our first stop of the day was to Arlington Cemetery.  It’s really something when there are graves as far as your eyes can see in every direction and you know that not every veteran is buried there.  My brother pointed out that no matter which direction you look (up, over, diagonal), the gravestones make perfect lines.  While we were there, we got to go through the Robert E. Lee house that is still being redone.  There is a really nice lookout spot just behind the house.  After Arlington, we headed over to the Pentagon City Mall to eat.  Food vouchers are awesome.  We then went to the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial before going to the Holocaust Museum.  As you go in, they have these little booklets about different victims to help make the experience more authentic; David was the only one whose Holocaust alter-ego survived.  I should mention that it’s over 100 degrees out and we’re all completely miserable having already walked several miles.

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Lesson 3:  You shouldn’t only bring shoes with no cushion or support on this type of vacation.  Sorry feet.

For this reason we decided to only stop at one Smithsonian: the Museum of Natural History.  We didn’t even bother to tread past the second floor.  Thankfully, the Old Post Office, which we had more food vouchers for, was just a short walk away.  Possibly my favorite part of the day was going up the Old Post Office tower.  It’s a really pretty spot, and it felt so good with a breeze coming through.  You can also get off the elevator on the level of the bells.  I’d add pictures, but they’re all still on my phone.  I really need to get a memory card…

We caught the shuttle back to the hotel at the same time as that other family.  It was a crowded ride, and I was between my dad and the other dad.  Both of them started singing along to the Prince song on the radio.  When we got back, we decided to go use the pool and hot tub.  So did that other family.  When we were done doing that, we decided to order a pizza.  My brother and I went down into the lobby to get some tea and coffee, and guess who was sitting there eating a pizza?  I say all this because just the night before, my brother and I were discussing whether or not their were any families out there like ours.  We found one.

atlanta: the end, part 2.

After the internship, I had a good 5 days left in Atlanta.  I obviously used this time to seek out all the best restaurants I could get to with MARTA and my feet, and I must say I’m quite pleased with what I was able to discover.  On Friday, I walked a few blocks up to Colonial Square to go to Tamarind Seed, a Thai restaurant (my favorite!) that was recommended by a fellow intern.  I had the Gang-Phed, a red curry.  It. Was. Soooooooo good!  I’m talking the kind of good where I didn’t even care that I couldn’t recognize half of the vegetables in it–knowing what I’m eating is usually very important.  This being said, I still think I’d take both of the Thai places I’ve had in Cali (Star of Siam, Long Beach & Thai Dishes, Santa Monica) over this one.

On Saturday, my mom flew in for a short visit.  When she got in, we went to Mary Mac’s for dinner.  I found this place online when I was searching for the best sweet tea in Atlanta, and it was also recommended to me as “a place to take your mom”.  They do have the best sweet tea I’ve ever had, and lots of people were there with their moms.  It’s a nice place, with a bunch of separate dining rooms in different colors.  To the MP people:  It kind of reminded me of Carson’s in the way that it wound all around.  At Mary Mac’s, you write down your order and hand it to the waitress.  I found that interesting.  My mom and I both got the vegetable platters, which include meat choices, so I think it would be more accurately named “side dish platter”.  I got mine with broccoli souffle, Brunswick stew, tomato pie, and fried green tomatoes.  The first two were great, the last two not so much, but at least I can say I’ve tried some real southern food.  I should also mention that they bring out a basket of assorted rolls, which contain some really delicious sweet rolls.  I love food, so I hope you guys don’t mind me talking about it so much.

My mom scored us free World of Coke and Aquarium tickets for Sunday afternoon, which meant I couldn’t go to church unless I woke up in time to get to the 8 am service.  I think I got about 3 hours of sleep that night, so waking did not happen.  I don’t know what it was about my bed there, but I never slept well.  The World of Coke was fun, as I expected it would be since my friend Zach said it’s his second favourite place on Earth.  I spell that the British way because I distinctly remember that’s how he spelled it when he texted me.  They have really cool Coke bottles everywhere, and a ton of lapel pins–I collect those.  I tried every flavor they had in their world tasting room, which should be a surprise to no one.  The only thing I didn’t like was the weird musical they make you watch.

The GA aquarium was pretty cool too. I liked the otters and the penguins the best.  You guys aren’t getting any pictures because the Internet in this hotel is really slow, and I can only imagine the horror uploading photos would bring.

That night I decided to take my mom to Midtown Vortex, mostly because I had a quesadilla when I went and I wanted to try a burger.  They’re supposedly the best.  Once I read that they made a burger with peanut butter, bananas, and bacon, I knew there was no way I could order anything else.  That burger was the Elvis burger, and it was surprisingly good.

My mom left on Monday morning, and after dropping her off I decided to head up to Sandy Springs (Hines Ward lives there!) and hit up their Goodwill.  I got some pretty sweet stuff.  Go figure, though, that because I once again knew nothing more about its location relative to MARTA–which was on a corner–than it was within a quarter mile, that the right direction was the last one I chose.  I spent 45 minutes walking down and back the other 3 streets.  It was hot, and I was both irritated with myself and laughing at myself.  There’s a French bistro in the same lot as Goodwill, so I stopped in for a drink and also ended up having two of their mini desserts as a reward for all the walking I’d done.  I had tiramisu and a chocolatey something, and they both were heavenly.

Tuesday morning, I ventured out to find some beignets.  This involved riding the East/West rails, which are more sketch than the North/South so I was a little worried that I might have been heading into a bad part of town.  The station I got off at was actually a really nice area, and I chose the right direction to get to The Beignet Connection on the first try!  The beignets were so good, and the service was super friendly.  I’d definitely go back.

Since I had to check out Tuesday afternoon, this was the last of my adventures.  I took these important life lessons back with me:

  • I love being independent
  • I absolutely want to live in a city
  • I absolutely do not want it to be Atlanta
  • Subways systems are really easy to maneuver
  • Different cultures can be extremely hard to live with
  • Cars are a nice luxury
  • I probably trust too many things to be safe (in regards to walking miles of the city alone)
  • I love economics more than math, but it involves a lot of math, so that’s okay
  • Sometimes, you just have to deal with creepy people
  • Tap water != safe water all the time–definitely thought the whole U.S. was good…
  • Exploring pays off