When visiting a city with a good public transportation system, I tend to leave my car at home. I’ve been traveling this way since 2008. Between 2008 and 2010, I learned the Subway in New York, the “T” in Boston and the Metro in DC. Since then, when I have to drive in those areas, I don’t look forward to it.
This past Friday, I did something I had not done in years: drive in the District of Columbia. In fact, the last time (that’s a Rolling Stones song) I did, it was to visit the Frederick Douglass house, which is located in Anacostia and has a parking lot.
It took a very special occasion to get me to drive there: a family reunion of sorts. I was taking my 83 year old Grandmother to visit her younger sister in neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland. Her one request was that she wanted to see the Holocaust museum. Although she was barely a teenager when the Second World War ended, she has more memory of the events around the time than I ever will.
Neither her nor her sister are capable of using the Metro. The walking is too much for them. The only option was for me to drive them. Like I told my Aunt (who I often stay with when visiting the DC area), “I’m not looking forward to it, but I’ll do it.”
The drive from Northampton County, Pennsylvania to Montgomery County, Maryland took more than three hours. It was barely 5:00 in the evening when we got settled in. I let them enjoy their reunion, while I went for a ride.
Since my Aunt lives in the very rural western corner of Montgomery county (near Virginia and the Potomac River), I decided to take a ride to Gaithersburg in central Montgomery County. I didn’t have a particular destination, but I ended up at SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier in the Kentlands. Any time I see an interesting looking chocolate shop, I tend to stop. As soon as I saw their selection, I knew I had to get a box.
Although I can’t remember how the conversation started, I ended up talking to their brand ambassador, who was sitting at a table, working on her Apple laptop computer. I mentioned that I had a blog and I knew the term “brand ambassador” from Lisa Ray, who is Insight Vacations “brand ambassador.”
I mentioned that I’m a travel blogger and suggested she follow my blog. That conversation lasted a few minutes, then she asked about the (dragonfruit) necklace around my neck. I didn’t buy it to get attention, but dozens of people have asked me where I got it from. I don’t like wearing gold or silver, but I like having something around my neck. My cousin pointed out Glitterlimes to me last year and I ended up buying a couple necklaces around the holidays. I kept the dragonfruit necklace for myself and giving the lime one as a gift.
There was only one other non-employee in the place at the time. She overheard our conversation and bought three necklaces while we were talking. She turned out to be a publicist and looked at my Instagram and Twitter accounts as well as my blog. Since I’m not yet a full-time blogger, there was plenty to learn from her. She ended up taking my picture and showing me how to get the maximum amount of exposure on Instagram and Twitter.
I ended up not buying any chocolates until they were ready to close. By the time I returned to my Aunt’s house, I’d been gone for around five hours and everyone was sleeping.
The next morning, I was up, finished with my p90x3 workout and showered before anyone else. After my breakfast (shakeology), I did some paperwork I had brought with me until we got on the road.
The drive (that’s an REM song) took a little less than an hour. As soon as we got into the city limits, I got that feeling I get when I’m arriving in a place I love. There’s the excitement of seeing a city you’ve never seen and then that love of the familiar. DC is my 3rd favorite city (tied with even more historic Boston), but I would not be exploring it the way I like to.
I dropped them off at the Holocaust Museum and went to find parking. It took around five minutes but I found free 3 hour street parking on Jefferson Drive across from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service building and made the (fast) five minute walk to the museum.
Since I had been to the Holocaust Museum in 2008 (the last time I drove in the heart of DC), I was the one who went through the fastest. I was done in less than two hours. Normally I’m the one who takes the most time to the point where I annoy anyone who is with me. This time was the opposite.
On my way back to the car, I took a picture of the Washington Monument. After I picked my Grandmother and her sister up at the museum, we went to 2 Amys Pizzeria which was my (sort of) choice for lunch. The publicist that I had met the previous night, told me that we had to try 2 Amys. I ordered the Margherita like I typically do and shared rice balls with the table.
On the way to the museum, my Grandmother had mentioned that she had never been to Georgetown and my Aunt reminded her that it’s the most desirable neighborhood in the District of Columbia. Although my Grandmother was acting as if she didn’t really care if she saw it, she seemed pleased when I told her I would stop there.
We found a (not free) parking lot across from a Morton’s Steakhouse. They went for a drink, while I went for a walk on M Street. I got nostalgic almost immediately, like I tend to do in places where I have good memories. I’d visited there a few times last year, while staying at my Aunt’s house. The main stop I wanted to make was Olivia Macaron. When I arrived there, I was pleased to see that they had “fruity pebbles” flavored macarons. I bought a box of 7 and went to meet back up with my family.
The next morning, we drove back to Pennsylvania. I had been looking for Taiwanese “salt & pepper” or “popcorn” chicken in Georgetown the previous night, but could not find any. Thanks to Yelp, I found a place (Jumbo Jumbo Cafe) in Germantown that was not out of our way. After a stop at Lotte (which my Aunt took me to last summer), we went for bubble tea and chicken. We each ordered the same thing, but I ended up eating half of her chicken. Since I rarely eat fried foods, my stomach was a bit upset and that ended up being my only meal of the day. I certainly wanted some, but maybe not that much! I was raised to never throw food away.
After crossing into Pennsylvania, we stopped in Gettysburg, which my Grandmother had never really seen. I had not been to since the last time I drove in the center of DC in 2008. She was acting the same way she was about Georgetown. Like it would be nice, but it was not important that we stopped. Like the Elf song, I chose to “do the same thing” as I did in Georgetown. Since it was the middle of the afternoon already, we drove through town and I got out to take some pictures. I never drove through downtown Gettysburg like we did. The last time I was there I took a bus tour from the visitor center with a friend.
Driving through Gettysburg reminded me of Carlisle a bit. We only spent about an hour. Even a casual civil war buff can spend a few days in Gettysburg without getting bored, but that was not an option on this trip. However, I picked up a lot of brochures for things I had not done when I spent an afternoon in Gettysburg in 2008. Gettysburg blog post coming soon!