By the time we were done, it was almost 8 PM, so our first night in DC was spent just going out for a nice dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant and watching a movie at home.
Our condo that we rented was just perfect: a short walk from the METRO, in the historic Barracks Row/Eastern Market neighborhood, on Capitol Hill. A nice mix of residential housing, shops and cozy little restaurants, most of them pretty old and historic. In fact, I don't think I saw any modern or new buildings while we were in DC! It seemed like a pretty safe neighborhood, not that we ventured out that much at night anyway...
I think we made a good choice renting a condo rather than getting a regular hotel room. We had all the comforts of home, a living room with a huge, comfy couch, flat screen TV, DVD player, stereo, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms (but we used the guest bedroom as a dressing room for all our clothes, since we had 3 beds in the master bedroom).
We were on the 2nd floor in a building that is called the Defalco House, a pretty old house, but the condo is newly renovated and modern, so the best of both worlds!
Our first day out on town, we wanted to get a lay of the land, so to speak. Both Ken and I have been to DC before on separate occasions, but it was all work and no sightseeing at that time, so the city is still pretty new for us both.
Having used the subway in several other cities, the METRO was easy to figure out, and we were off at 9 AM. Most places doesn't open until 10 AM, so no need to stress in the mornings!
We had booked a 1 ½ hour tour of the city with DC ducks. This tour is a little more family oriented, and the tour vehicles are actually amphibious military vehicles, almost 60 year old! The fun part is that we got to tour both on land and on the Potomac River, since it can handle both. At the end, the driver/captain handed out "quackers" that people (read kids) quacked with to their hearts content.
The tour took us around the city, and the guide was very knowledgeable, telling us about all the different things we passed by along the way. The tour started and ended at Union Station, that in itself a beautiful building.
While on the river part of the tour we drove by the Pentagon up close, and we got a great view of all the famous monuments.
We also saw a lot of nice vistas over the city itself, as well as many of the buildings that hosts various national and federal agencies and the well renowned Smithsonian Institute museums.
The Smithsonian Castle
After our tour we took the Metro to Chinatown, which in DC is very small compared to the one in NYC. But we had a tasty lunch there and walked around and enjoy the atmosphere a little bit.
After lunch it was time to visit the Washington Memorial up close and personal. I had tickets for us to take the elevator up to the top, which is otherwise hard to get unless you book them in advance or show up early in the morning. We had a fantastic view of DC from up there!
...but just look at that view! This is the Mall, facing the Capitol. All those white things in the middle are tents were the annual Folklife Festival was going on.
From another side we had a pretty good view of the White House. How do you know if the President is home? There are snipers on the roof (too far away too see any in this picture, but we saw them later on).
The White House
After the Washington Memorial we continued down the Mall to see some of the other monuments. It was a hot day and it is a long walk, but it was very interesting.
Here Sarah and I (as well as many other people) take the opportunity to cool our feet in the cool waters of the WWII Memorial.
View from inside the Lincoln Memorial towards the Washington Memorial
Ken and Sarah in front of the Vietnam War Memorial