We love to vacation. And because we homeschool, we can usually get away at times others can’t. I decided last July, standing on a dock on a lake in East Alabama, ( it was about a hundred and four outside), that it would be fun to take a trip to D.C. in December. I read about a trip taken by a family from Florida, who took the train all the way to Boston. Snowy mountains and Christmas lights kept them company as they made their way north. It sounded ideal. Plus, my artist husband, Garry, was scheduled to do a commission of Congressman Sanford Bishop. So we took the train from Savannah to Washington. We would normally take the Atlanta to D.C. route, but I thought Savannah would be fun for a change. It was not a bad drive, except for the fact that the Alabama-Georgia game was on that afternoon and it was harder to aggravate my friends whenever Georgia messed up. Those back roads are not known for their internet connections.
In Savannah, our hotel was a Hyatt Place, (there was a convention in town and the inns were full). It was okay. Clean enough, comfortable. As I always say, the experience cannot compare with a nice inn! That night we ate at Dockside Seafood. It had great atmosphere, overlooked the river, great spiked hot apple cider but dirty, yucky bathrooms. I think I am going to start checking the bathrooms first, then the menu.
Next morning, after our boring but plentiful breakfast at the Hyatt Place, we boarded the train and headed toward the capital. They internet connection only really works in the café, so if you don’t have a good book, or want to watch eleven hours of scenery, be prepared to move forward a couple of cars.
We always stay at the Omni Shoreham when we are in D.C.. It’s pretty, spacious, spotless, has tons of character and has great access to the metro. I love historic hotels and the Omni has been around since the 1930’s. It has an impressive list of famous past guests, (The Beatles, President Kennedy, President Clinton, Julia Roberts, etc.), plus a “Ghost Suite”. There were four of us and the spacious sitting area was nice, plus two televisions and two queen beds. It came with complimentary coffee service delivered at your selected time each morning and milk and cookies every afternoon. I loved that part.
First time ever, we were able to have a guided tour of the Capitol via Sanford Bishop’s office. When Garry finished the photo session, one of his interns took us through and showed us all her favorite details, ending with a seat in the House Chamber, watching a lone congressman debate the Fiscal cliff, with himself, for CSPAN. Fascinating!
Because I planned this in July, we were also able to get tickets to see the White House. The White House was beautifully decorated with decades of presidential Christmas photos, the 2012 gingerbread house, the Green Room and a very small person playing the most beautiful Christmas music on a Baby Grand Piano in the foyer. Of course, my boys wondered, “do they have snipers on the roof of the White House?”The guard at the end of the tour declined comment. Then I dragged everyone off to Mount Vernon. They were thrilled. But once we were there, we enjoyed the setting overlooking the Potomac, the period furnishings and George Washington’s farm. Did you know that George Washington was given a key to the Bastille? It hangs right in the hallway of Mt. Vernon. Pretty cool.
We also visited the Smithsonian, the Portrait Gallery, the bunch of other art galleries, watched “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre and found the most awesome Mexican restaurant ever. We also ate Armenian food, Cuban food, Chinese food and ate at Lincoln’s Waffle Shop. It wasn’t as cool as Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago, but how could we not go to a place called Lincoln’s Waffle Shop? It was right across from Ford’s Theatre, run by a bunch of Iranians. Good service but severely dull menu. It was laminated, so I don’t think it will be changing anytime soon. My all time favorite restaurant find was Old Ebbitt Grill. It’s near the capitol. I love the ambience; velvet booths, beveled glass and brass chandeliers. Even the food was delicious. And I discovered Cinnamon Whisky Apple Cider. Yum again!
After five days of walking, it was time for home again. I will say that Amtrack has a lot of room for improvement. The staff is borderline rude, especially on that D.C. to Atlanta route. They always are. It could be such a genteel experience. But the server was too long in returning, didn’t bring drinks fast enough, and of course, seemed bothered by every request. He was a grumbler from New York. That kind of ruins it, ya know? There was another lady waiting tables in the dining car, who was very chipper and friendly. She was just perfect. Our sour faced waiter was almost treacherous. Too bad for us. I am going to have to get over that fear of flying, or else start taking the boat!