Now that the Inauguration is over, I'm sure Washington DC is on your mind. If you decided to stay home to watch like many folks, I'm sure you're thinking of a future trip there. Planning a trip to DC is actually pretty easy. There's plenty to do, plenty of good food, and plenty of history. As jetsetters in the US, we can relax and leave those passports behind. No money exchanges to worry about, no new languages or customs to learn. Slum it, go for the shorts. It's wonderful to rediscover this country's history again.
The best time to go is in the Spring and Fall when crowds are gone and the weather is mild. In the Spring, the cherry blossom trees that line the monuments bloom which is a wonderful sight to see.
We went in October when the weather was still warm and the days were still long. Bring your walking shoes because it's a walking kind of town. Plan to spend at least a day at the Smithsonian museums. It's all free admission but prepare to have your bags checked. It's all worth it. There you will see Abraham Lincoln's hat, George Washinton's uniform, the Star Spangled Banner, and other artifacts from history. We've seen the Mona Lisa and so many famous art pieces but they don't compare to the feeling you get when you're looking at these artifacts. They sort of validates what you read about in your 7th grade American history class. If you have 10 or more people in your group, be sure to get a tour of the White House. Of course, they won't let you into the Oval office but you can walk through the visitors area.
If you have time, take a side trip to Mount Vernon to see where our first president lived. The trip can be done in one day. There you can see his false teeth in the tour of the mansion. Another side trip would be to NYC. NYC requires at least two days to explore and can be done by train.
D.C. is not only covered in history, the place is beautiful. The buildings are majestic with their unique rotunda style architecture thanks to Thomas Jefferson. We stayed at the Westin Grand near Georgetown University. The same style of architecture continues at this hotel and in the rooms. The location is terrific since it's walking distance to all the monuments and museums.
If you haven't been to DC and you're American, you're guaranteed to feel a pinch of patriotism.
If you're on-the-go looking for fast-food, stop by a McDonald's. We're not advocating artery-clogging diets but we think it's terrific how McDonald's will try to adapt their menus to locale. We find that entertaining in some respects. The foods, of course, are McDonald-ized.
We've visited McDonald's in Paris, Italy, Canada, Hong Kong, and various U.S. locations.
Here's what there is to find around the world:
According to our other sources:
McDonald's survival in part is that they will bring new items to their menus to keep it customers interested. In the past year, they added "gourmet" coffee to their menus in the U.S. According to Burgers Today, McDonalds will offer a Beijing Olympic's inspired menu in Colombia and Argentina.
From all of our tastings, the food isn't bad and far more entertaining than you're plain old hamburger when your in a far away land. If you don't like it then you can always fall back on the burgers and fries.
What have you had that's unusual at McDonald's recently?
After the last few visits to Europe, I was ready for a vacation just to do nothing. Our last few journeys afar were about traveling and site seeing and endless walking. You almost need a vacation after those vacations. This time, I was ready to just get away and do nothing but sit by a pool or at the beach.
This time I picked the Big Island of Hawaii. For those of us who live in California, it's a no-brainer vacation. Packing is easy: tank tops, flip flops, bathing suit, sunblock, sunglasses, a good book. Hope on a plane for 5 hours and you're there. No planning needed, no special walking shoes to shop for, no worries.
Why this island over the other islands? For me, the Big Island one of the most interesting of all the Hawaiian islands. For one, it has an active volcano that's been flowing lava for about 20 years. The island is sleepier than the touristy Oahu and Maui. It's also different that it's less lush and green because it's covered with lava rocks.
On our trips I make it a point to try some local food. I had been to Hawaii a bunch of times but never tried their Loco Moco. It sounded scrumptious to me. What is a Loco Moco? The Loco Moco is a dish that includes 2 scoops of rice topped with a beef burger under a layer of gravy. Sometimes there's variations on the meat they use. I didn't plan on it but I ended up trying three different type of Loco Mocos on my trip. I had the Katsu Moco (fried chicken on top of rice) and the Kalua Pork Moco (tender salted pork on rice). They were good but it's best to stick to the original. We went to Ken's House of Pancakes on the Hilo side and the Big Island Grill in Kona. I would have to say the Big Island Grill is better although Ken's is an institution.
If you have been following the Olympics you may have noticed how beautiful everything is designed from the buildings down to the medals. It's refreshing to see how they took classical Chinese imagery and applied it in a modern form.
For more info on the designs, visit the official Beijing Olympic site.
If any of you are over in Beijing watching the Olympics, send us your favorite photos and we'll feature it.
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