If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I spent Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C. to attend a friend’s wedding. I was barely there for 48 hours and it was a long-ass flight for such a short amount of time, but when I made the decision to go anyway, there were three factors at play:
- I finally had the option to attend a friend wedding (FYI, I have only attended three weddings in my adult life, including my sister’s, my friend Susi’s, and my own, and have had to skip many friends’ weddings because of distance, timing, or both,) and
- I had the opportunity to meet up with another dear friend for the first time while I was there, and
- I had never been to D.C. (not that I was going to see much of it this time, but at least I would be able to say that I had visited)
Those were three more than good enough reasons for me to go, am I right?
I left Sacramento early Saturday morning. I used some Southwest rewards points for the flight and had a stopover in Dallas (Love Field).
With the flight time, layover time and time difference, traveling to the East Coast takes up almost your whole day. I arrived at Reagan National Airport at 5:00 p.m. and I was all giddy when I could spot the Washington Monument and Capitol from the plane! Not so giddy when I left the terminal and was hit in the face with a wall of humidity! Man, the weekend was rough for a Californian who’s used to high temperatures, but dry heat!
As recommended by the wedding party, I stayed at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue (right by the National Mall and White House), which was only a 10-minute drive from the airport.
I was hoping to make use of all the (little) time that I had, so after dropping off my luggage, I headed out (umbrella in tow) to check out the area.
I first walked down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. I loved the wide street lined with impressive architecture left and right.
I was ooh-ing over the Old Post Office building until I realized that this is now the Trump International Hotel (since September 2016). No, thank you very much. I deleted the photo as soon as I had taken it. Waste of digital space, y’all.
I walked by the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building,
the U.S. District Court und George Gordon Meade Memorial,
and finally I arrived at the United States Capitol. The area around the Capitol was closed off and I could see a large stage was put up in front of it. I inquired with a police officer who was guarding the area and he explained that there would be the dress rehearsal for the National Memorial Day concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It was free to the public, so I was able to go through the security check to get closer to the Capitol and look around.
The U.S. Capitol looks like a XXL version of our (much smaller) state Capitol in Sacramento.
Sacramento State Capitol
I wished I had had time to stay for the concert, but I had to get some more sightseeing in. I left the Capitol grounds and made my way through the National Mall, which is surrounded by all the Smithsonian Museums. I was glad that I brought my umbrella, because we did have a bit of a thunderstorm that evening. It reminded me a lot of the warm summer storms in Germany.
I made my way back and stopped by the Ronald Reagan Building and National Trade Center, where the wedding was going to take place the next day.
I had planned to grab some quick dinner at a close-by Panera. According to the Internet, the store was supposed to be open until 9 p.m., but when I got there at 8, I was told that the restaurant was closed already. Bummer. It wasn’t easy to find another place for a quick bite in the area, so I ended up at Pi Pizzeria, where I had a delicious small personal pizza with pepperoni and arugula.
I headed back to the hotel afterwards and met up with Caryn, Joe and some other guests at the hotel bar. It was nice to get to know some of the other guests before the actual wedding celebration.
I was in bed by midnight. I had plans for the next day.
I stopped by Caryn’s bridal suite in the morning (by invitation, of course) and then made my way to La Colombe Coffee, where I had arranged to meet with my long-time Internet and snail mail friend Marie. It was so, so freakin’ exciting to finally meet her in person. As expected, it basically felt like we knew each other (which I guess we do!) and I had the greatest time hanging out and chatting away.
Marie walked over to the White House with me for an obligatory picture ( a) of the White House, and b) as proof that we had indeed met up!) and then she headed back home to her family and I had a few more hours to explore Washington, D.C.
I stopped by the Renwick Gallery (Marie mentioned that they had air-conditioning, which I appreciated!) and explored the Burning Man exhibit for a little bit.
Then made my way over to the Lincoln Memorial. I had some trouble crossing Pennsylvania Avenue, because there was the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Motorcycle Event going on.
‘The Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run is an annual protest and gathering that first started in 1988. Motorcycle riders from around the nation, and even around the world rally in the Pentagon parking lots and then begin riding a designated route through the Mall area of Washington, D.C. […]The event is an actual demonstration/protest to bring awareness and accountability for POWs and MIAs left behind.’
I eventually made it over to the Lincoln Memorial.
You know, how you have seen a site on TV or in pictures many, many times, but then it still feels different when you stand in front of it? That’s how I felt with the huge Lincoln statue on his oversized throne. For some reason, I had imagined the site differently.
It wasn’t any less impressive though. And just look at the view he has over the reflection pool and Washington Monument!
I checked out the Vietnam Veterans Memorial …
the Constitution Gardens,
… and took a little break (to cool my hot feet) at the National World War II Memorial.
View from National World War II Memorial to Lincoln Memorial
View from National World War II Memorial to the Washington Monument
View from Washington Monument to National World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial
I made my way back through the National Mall and walked through the National Gallery of Art Scultpure Garden.
Because it was such a warm and humid day, I ended my tour with some ice-cream from Pitango Gelato. Ice-cream is incredibly expensive in this country. I paid more than $6 for this small container (two scoops). In Germany, in most Italian ice-cream shops, a scoop is between 1-1,50 €. This is why I rarely buy ice-cream here anywhere else but at the supermarket. It did taste authentically Italian though and was delicious!
I made it back to the hotel around 3 p.m. to get ready for the wedding festivities.
I headed over to the Ronald Reagan Building and National Trade Center at 5 p.m. Unfortunately, the ceremony – which was supposed to be outside – had to be held inside as it was raining again. Still, the venue was beautiful, as was the ceremony.
I had never been to a Jewish wedding ceremony, but I really enjoyed it. I especially liked the personal vows that Caryn and Joe exchanged and their glowing faces that had ‘love’ written all over them. What a wonderful thing to witness!
There was a reception afterwards and a lovely dinner and evening celebration. I met some of the guests and had a really nice evening and great conversations. (I didn’t take many photos at the wedding. I guess, I was so wrapped up in the festivities that I forgot my phone for once!).
I was so glad I was able to be there for Caryn’s and Joe’s wedding. I am also glad that I had the opportunity to finally visit Washington, D.C. (and I know already that I’d like to come back and see more).
Monday morning, all guests that were staying at the Marriott where invited for brunch at the hotel’s breakfast restaurant and it was a nice opportunity to see the couple off to their honeymoon.
I headed to the airport at 10 a.m. and made it back to California by 7 p.m. – it really was a whirlwind trip, but so, so worth it.
Have you been to Washington, D.C.?