Exploring DC in the midst of a Government Shutdown

What are the chances of visiting Washington, DC during a government shutdown? Perhaps more common these days, but of all the days and weeks we were traveling, who would have thought we would arrive in DC when all the museums & government buildings were closed? Unfortunately, our timing was spot on!

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^^even during a government shutdown, there’s bound to be a march to witness

From a lovely day spent at the Barboursville winery near Massanutten, Virginia, we set out Northeast toward DC. It was a short two-hour drive and we arrived at my cousin Shawn’s and husband Evandro’s gorgeous home ((in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of DC)) just in time to get some playtime with their French Bulldog Sophie and head out for pizza at Bacio. The pizza at nearby Bacio was incredibly tasty – we chose the Common Good and Eckington’s; and their ice cream ((particularly salted caramel)) is not to be passed up. One of the highlights of our time in DC was playing with Sophie. She is such a sweet girl, and loves playing fetch with a few select toys.

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^^mmmm, pizza from Bacio

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^^Gracious hosts, Evando & Shawn. Photo credit: Evandro

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^^Sweet Sophie! Photo credit: Evandro

After a great night’s sleep, and since very few museums were open for visitors, we simply had no choice but to head over to Georgetown and walk around the shops. Shopping is such an awful alternative, isn’t it? DC is one of the cities with Car2Go, so we utilized it several times. We love Car2Go! It is simple and convenient. You sign up online for a membership ((you can often find deals online for discounted or free membership)), receive your membership card in the mail about a week or so later and you’re ready to Car2Go! They have a phone app which you download, and can view the available Car2Go Smart cars in your area and make a 30 minute reservation. Once you arrive to the car, you scan your card on the reader just above the dashboard, which will unlock the driver door. Answer a few questions about the cleanliness of the car, and the key is available to you to start up the car and off you go! It is a pay as you go system, and you are charged based on the time using the car. You may park the car anywhere where you would normally pay for legal street parking. Simple as that! As I mentioned, they are a Smart car, so two passengers comfortably fit with some space in the back for shopping bags. We may have fit three people in one during our time in DC…but it will be our little secret, ok?!

Arriving in Georgetown, it took ages to find a parking spot. I’m unsure if Georgetown is always bustling on a Monday or if everyone had the same idea as us? It is a really pretty area with all the main shops you would ever want or need. We wandered up and down M Street NW, stopping in several shops. As I was on a French macaron tour of the USA, I popped into Paul for a ((HUGE!)) pistachio macaron to go. It was certainly larger in size than any macarons I have had previously, but perfectly soft and chewy. For lunch, I hit up Sweetgreen for a make-your-own fresh green salad after reading it’s praises in the Love Taza blog.

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Once finished with Georgetown, Andrew and I walked over to the Lincoln Memorial, and then up the Mall all the way to the US Capitol. It was a sunny, mild Monday in DC, and felt so great to soak up some Vitamin D. Of course all the buildings were closed due to the government shutdown, so we admired them from the outside! However, the Lincoln Memorial is a bit difficult to “close” due to the open front entrance of the building. There were barricades with signs posted, but everyone including us ignored them, and climbed the steps to say hello to Mr. Lincoln.

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^^pssh, barricades

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The walk up the Mall took us past the Reflecting Pool, the new World War II Memorial, Washington Monument, White House, and the various Smithsonian Museums before finally reaching the US Capitol. Of course I would have loved to see exhibits in the Air and Space, Natural History and National Portrait Gallery museums, as I have never been to any, however we only had three days in DC so I am not sure how you choose? The shutdown eliminated 95% of our options and narrowed the choices to a select few DC museums! I used the last of my cell phone battery to reserve a Car2Go car to head back to home base before drinks and Italian dining at Ghibellina with Shawn and Evandro. The four of us agreed the food was delicious.

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^^WWII Memorial

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^^those blue skies

On our last full day in DC, we head to the International Spy Museum to meet up with another cousin, Ken, and the three of us toured around the multiple rooms displaying and detailing old spy gear. They also had a special exhibit of 50 Years of Bond Villains, including over 100 artifacts from the films, which was great since all three of us are fans of Bond films. One could easily spend an entire day at the museum, but after three hours, our stomachs were growling hungry, and Shake Shack next door was waiting for us. Ken and I got the ‘Shroom Burger, Andrew got his usual plain cheeseburger with bacon. The three of us also ordered fries and agreed they were the best part of the meal, but I am not overly thrilled enough to return. Sorry Shake Shack lovers!

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^^Spy Museum! Top right photo is Andrew spying on me from a crawl space in the air duct. Bottom right is my chosen spy identity for the day.

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Andrew, cousin Ken and I returned to home base to watch England clinch their World Cup spot by beating Poland. We bid farewell to Ken, who was in town with his band Alpenglow to play a gig. We would miss the DC gig, but luckily we would catch up with Alpenglow in New York State for a special performance. They are an incredibly talented group and just released their first album.

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^^Cousin Ken

Later that evening, Shawn and Evandro prepared an amazing prosciutto wrapped cod dinner for us for our last meal. It was so tasty that I keep thinking back to the meal and salivating, and I may ask for the recipe to see if I can duplicate it here in the UK. The following morning we packed our bags, played fetch with Sophie and gave her lots of love before we departed DC, headed for New York State! Despite the government shutdown, Andrew and I had a great time in the American Capitol and made the best of our few days there. The mid-October weather in DC was warm and sunny and could not have been more ideal for our last somewhat-warm road trip destination. And no sooner did we leave DC, did Congress reach an agreement to resume governing and open the museums!

Special thanks to our DC hosts Shawn, Evandro and Sophie!

Next on the blog, we finally reach my home state of New York for nearly a month of fun with family and best girlfriends!

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