Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 - Washington Day 3 (Washington)

Last full day here today. We will visit the Basilica in the morning and see the memorials and the tidal basin area in the afternoon and visit the Fish Market for dinner.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was our first stop and we got there at around 10:00am, a short drive from our BnB, and we were there for about an hour. You can easily spend more time here and it depends on what you are looking at. The place is really large, apparently the largest Catholic church in North America and one of the top ten largest churches in the world. Worth a stop in my opinion, it is free to visit and it is the first church that I have seen which had sections that are dedicated to other cultures like Vietnamese and Chinese. Because we came during cherry blossom time, it made the place look really nice. Parking is also free as well.

Crypt Church
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
We dropped off the van at the BnB and took the Metro to Hill Country for lunch. The place was somewhat annoying to get into since there is only one line and it is for both take out as well as sit down, so even though we were waiting for a table, people in front of us were placing orders. I'm not sure why they didn't have two lines, one for take out, one for dine in. We didn't have reservations, but the restaurant is fairly large and while there, I don't recall seeing a line to get a table.

Top left chicken, bottom left brisket, middle hot links, right ribs
Once seated, they give everyone a paper card at the beginning which works like your bill, you give them your card to order and they will mark it and if you don't buy anything, just give it back to them at the end of the meal. It reminds me of Marche, but with paper instead of a card.

Left cornbread, middle top collared greens, middle bottom mac and cheese, right top sweet potato mash, right bottom coleslaw
We ordered the $99 meal along with two orders of corn bread and it was more than enough to feed the 6 of us there. In fact, it could probably feed another person as well. It worked out to roughly $22 USD per person. It included a whole chicken, beef brisket, hot links, and ribs along with four sides of your choice. The brisket was really tender and moist, the same applies to the chicken. The links were a bit spicy, nothing to mention about them, they tasted fine, the ribs were a bit dry in my opinion. We got four sides which were mac and cheese, collared greens, coleslaw, and sweet potato mash. In my opinion, the mac and cheese and sweet potato mash were the stars, the others were okay. Overall, I rather enjoyed the place, I'd suggest stopping by if you have a chance, it helps that it is fairly centrally located.

Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial (yup, those are tourists!)
After lunch, we walked down to see the memorials and the tidal basin area which is where most of the cherry blossom trees are. All the memorials and the basin area were FULL of tourists. It was actually quite ridiculous. Overall, I enjoyed the area, but it was too busy for my liking. I'm not sure if it is super busy normally (outside of cherry blossom season), but this was a bit insane.

Washington Monument
World War II Memorial
Washington Monument
The memorials and monuments were nice to see and we saw quite a few of them (Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, World War II Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial). While I know very little behind the history of the memorials, they were interesting to see and we didn't even see all of them!

Lincoln Memorial
Tidal Basin
We ended up losing Harold and Sue as we were trying to make it back to the Washington Monument. So, make sure to have a plan for where to meet up. Note that for the people that collect stamps, almost everything here has a stamp for it, so bring some paper and hunt away! Or if you like, it is all in one place if you know where to look. For those that don't know what stamps I'm referring to, here's a wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Park_Passport_Stamps

Jefferson Memorial
Washington Monument
Finished with all the tourist attractions for the day and hungry for dinner, we walked to the Fish Market. All the places sell either cooked seafood or raw seafood and some places allow you to buy raw seafood and will cook them for you on the spot which seems neat, but Mike wondered how often they change the boiling water. There is no seating available, so people just go back to the field across the street to eat or there is an area specific to one shop, however, there are only tables and no chairs.

We ended up getting 12 clams for $10 and 12 oysters for $15, all shucked. This was split between Allison and the guys. And I got the fishcake platter which was $12, includes two good sized crab cakes, two sides (which I picked mac and cheese and hush puppies) and two rolls and I also got crab balls for $6 which were basically smaller crab cakes, you get 4 of them, but it looks like it is roughly the size of one regular one. The food was really good, surprisingly the crab cakes did not have a lot of filler. Basically everything that you order will come back boiled or deep fried.

Fish Market
Left 12 oysters, right 12 clams
Crab cakes and hush puppies on the left, crab calls on the right, mac and cheese in the middle
By now, we were fairly tired again, we walked to the nearest Metro station and went back to the BnB. We made it back at around 8:30pm. Afterwards, I decided that I would go out and take some night pictures of Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument. I left with Allison at around 9:30pm and the rest stayed at the BnB. We made it out to the Jefferson Memorial area by around 10:00pm and parked on Ohio Drive which is the street that connects Jefferson Memorial to Lincoln Memorial. There was plenty of free parking at the time.

Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
After taking some pictures at the Jefferson Memorial, as we were leaving, we ran into Tracey who was also here for the long weekend and we gave them a lift to the Lincoln Memorial which is near their hotel and where we were going to after anyways.

Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial
We took some pictures of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and called it a night. We got back to the BnB at around 12:00am and had issues parking our minivan since our street was actually out of parking spots, luckily, we ran into someone who said we could park on their street (we didn't quite understand the road signs) and called it a night.

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument
As our last day here, I think that Washington D.C. is a nice place to visit as a tourist. It is very well planned out so that once you are in the National Mall area, you don't really need to leave which is nice. Metro system works well, however I wished that they had expected arrivals at all stations (or I just missed some) because when we were returning from the Fish Market, it seemed to take a long time once we missed the train. It is a nice city to visit at least once, I think 3 full days would have been a better amount of time to see everything on the list, but 2 will need to do for now.

Tomorrow, we will visit Hershey's Chocolate World and head back to Toronto.