I travel not because I have to, for me it is something more. I took this trip/vacation not because I needed one; well I needed one, but because it is when you travel you get to know yourself better. I always saw travel as a means of improving yourself because it gives you testing conditions that your normal life does not. So from where I am sitting, travel is a great way to do a self evaluation and find stuff that can be better addressed in your life to improve the overall quality of your life. You throw yourself out there and make as many mistakes as it takes to get through a finite amount of period while trying to have fun and take things easy. It is a balance that you try to maintain throughout the period of time you are travelling. This Adnanevnture, as I like to call it, has been amazing from this point of view. I have learned so much about myself, about the places I have been visiting and the people I have been seeing.
While Durham, North Carolina was one of those quaint towns that you wish you could move to and raise a family in, Washington is far from it. Before I jump in to details, let me start from where I left off the last time. So I was on the bus to DC from Durham, a bus that left an hour late. The idea was we would end up in DC by maximum 5:30 PM. Being convinced that I will get there in time, I was relaxed and just enjoyed the scenery that changed significantly as we moved north across the east coast. But that is around when my luck ran out; well to be honest the luck of about 70 people ran out. The Bus broke down … 30 minutes from DC on the Highway. We were stuck there for a good 2 hours before another bus came to pick us up. But wait there is more, the new bus that came to pick us up, slammed in to the bus we were sitting in, cracking the windscreen. Thankfully everyone was okay albeit very shaken at the sheer stupidity of the drivers involved. Even the Virginia DoT people who were at the scene were just shocked at the magnitude of dumbassness at display by the drivers. Eventually finally got to DC at 8 30 PM. 4 hours late from the original time and then took the train out to Fairfax. Luckily friend picked me up and took me to get some food. The moment my stomach filled up, I finally started to get back to my senses. I would like to give a shout out to Kebob Palace (Crystal City) which is pretty pricy but has amazingly good food
Got back to my hotel, Best Western Fairfax (Always a fan of Best Western … got a price off Hotwire … $50 a night!!!). Next day started out early at like 5 in the morning… I wish that had happened and I so wanted to say that. But I overslept, woke up at like 7 30 AM panicked and ran to catch a bus so I could keep my 9 30 AM appointment for the Congressional Tour at the Capitol Hill. In the process, skipped breakfast and did not even get coffee (it was my bad and it sucked big times that I did not get this done!). Got to Capitol Hill and had a wonderful tour. A small heads up to everyone planning a visit to the Capitol Hill, please use the online service they have and book your tours in advance. You can just walk in like 5 minutes before your time, and get your name tags and start the tour. The tour was stunning but it was not enough I wanted more. So I headed to the House Reservation and Senate Reservation offices to try my luck at getting passes to go inside the House and the Senate. As if luck was making up for the day before, got the passes and headed to the House and Senate. Both of them are so rich with history. Senate has a proper seating chart while House is not as formal. The chairs and desk are old and it looks much bigger on TV. Was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the place was (or may be being a political scientist I adore anything political).
Got done with the Capitol Hill and stepped outside that the sky had decided to pour down on DC as if there was no tomorrow. Having no umbrella, I headed to the nearest building, the Supreme Court. Had a quick tour of that, bought a couple of gifts from the gift shop (GIFT SHOPS ARE INSANELY EXPENSIVE!!! But they have such cool stuff). By now stomach had given a notice that it is food or else. So headed aimlessly down roads looking for food, stumbled upon something called the Potbelly Sandwich Shop ended up having one of healthiest yet non hipster sandwiches I have had in ages. If you are hungry, and there is one of these around you, please go eat there.
After regaining senses, headed out to Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space (I am a Space Dork… I wanted to be a pilot… an astronaut… like every other kid). I got there just in time to catch a guided tour of the museum. The docent that was guiding was this older gentleman who had spent over 18 years at NASA and knew everything about everything! (I so lucked out with this that I was convinced that lady luck will kick my ass later… which it did actually). Spent a good two hours going through it all and headed out to go find coffee. By the time I stepped out, it had started to rain even harder, undeterred (I do not come to DC every day so rain can go suck it) I headed to the White House to get that elusive picture next to the fence… 40 minutes of walking through pouring rain (made a detour to china town to get myself coffee – dumb move… I know!). Finally got there, was going to pull off a selfie like I had done earlier in the day at the Capitol Hill… but found these Argentinean tourists who asked me to take their picture. So took their picture and they returned the favor and I ended up having a decent picture in pouring rain outside the White House (Yaaay… WIN!). Rushed back to be greeted another friend of mine and that ended Day 1 of Washington DC on Adnanventure. Day 2 Updates and the story of my way back hopefully day after tomorrow.
Lessons from Day 2
- Washington DC and its surrounding areas are EXPENSIVE! Seriously, I can spend a week in Atlanta for the amount of money one spends here in a couple of days.
- I said it earlier and I forgot my own advice, ALWAYS CARRY CASH
- The transport system in and around DC is excellent but it is super expensive. Try not to travel during peak times, it just costs an arm and a leg (a single trip was $6). Get yourself one of those Smartrip Cards
- Always… Always… keep an extra budget of about $50 to $75 when travelling. This is your fuck up fund. This is the average amount of money you will inadvertently lose doing stupid things and trying new things. Please budget it. This was you do not have to limit your creativity and fun factor.
- Try eating at local eateries instead of chain restaurants. Give the local community some business, they deserve it.
- Walk rather than take buses or trains. I know this is something not everyone will be able to do but thing is, this way you get a lot more exploration done in the city. So if you have the option, try walking as much as you can.
- Starbucks is your friend. No I do not mean go to Starbucks, I mean work off the idea that if there is a Starbucks somewhere it means it will be surrounded by other shops which are mostly local. So navigate your way through cities based on Starbucks and 8/10 times you will end up discovering cool places that are nicer.
- When coming to a city like DC, be specific as to what you want to see. Do not come here without planning (That does not mean that you have to come here having planned every second of your time). You need to have a list of greatest hits which in my case were;
- Capitol Hill
- White House
- Lincoln Memorial
- National Mall
- Washington Monument
- World War 2 Memorial
I would say have Arlington in there as well. I skipped out on that because I have seen it previously.