Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Rundown

1) I. M. Pei's East Gallery - National Gallery of Art
2) Thunder rolling down Constitution Ave.
3) National Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden

We spent an extended long Memorial Day weekend in DC again, as we did last year. Since the Hotel Washington is closed for refurbishment after being bought, we stayed at our old favorite - the Marriott Crystal Gateway Hotel in Crystal City. Besides consistently having excellent service, it means not having to drive all the way into the city and there's a Metro stop adjacent to the hotel.

After getting in Friday afternoon and spending a little unwind time in the hotel hot tub, we took the Metro into town for dinner at The Oceanaire on F Street. While it's not quite as good as Devon in Chicago, it's damn fine food (as is the one in Charlotte near South Park).

Saturday we drove up to Rockville so that J could hit G Street Fabrics (although we both ended up spending more time and money at Filene's Basement in the same shopping center). We drove back into town via Wisconsin AVe and stopped off at the National Cathedral to take pictures and enjoy the grounds (we were too late to go inside, but we got some good pictures of the interior last year). We then drove on down Wisconsin through Georgetown to M Street before cutting across Key Bridge and back to the hotel. It has been a few years since we'd been in Georgetown - I was quite surprised that some of our old haunts like Commander Salamander are still in business. As I had thought, most of M Street looks pretty much like a mall but there still appears to be some interesting places on Wisconsin. AFter a bit of cleanup, we took the Metro down to the King Street station in Old Town Alexandria and walked over to Bistrot Lafayette. We showed up there on a Friday night in December last year without a reservation and they were kind enough to make room for us, so we actually had reservations this time and were rewarded with a really fine meal. I highly recommend the place - it's not very big, so you really do want to make reservations.

Sunday we took the Metro into DC in time to catch much of the Rolling Thunder parade of Harleys down Constitution - I've seen estimates anywhere from 350,000 to over 500,000 riders in the city. Pretty damn impressive - if you don't like V-Twins, I suggest you stay away from DC on Memorial Day weekend. We spent most of the afternoon in the National Galleries of Art - I remember reading about I. M. Pei's East Wing design when it first opened in the '70s and fell in love with it on my first visit to DC as an adult when it housed an incredible exhibit of Rodin sculpture. With no real plans for dinner for the first time during the weekend, we walked up Pennsylvania towards the White House with the intention of seeing if Occidental Grille was serving outside. They were not, but there were tables available at the Cafe du Parc next door (part of the Willard Hotel) so we parked it there and had the best meal of the weekend!

We didn't have definite plans for Monday but I'd suggested we stop off at Mt. Vernon on the way home. I had been once when I was about 9 years old and hadn't been back and J had never been. It's a beautiful drive down George Washington Memorial Parkway and it was quite hot but lovely on the grounds. Despite high gas prices, it was packed! The tour through the house was a bit rushed due to the crowd but we spent some time on the grounds and enjoying what has to be the best view of any house I've ever been in.

Now I need to get back to work so I can rest!

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