Saturday, August 10, 2013

Washington DC, USA

Seems like the only thing that makes put out some real effort to go to the States these days is if Chelsea FC is in town. I wasn't planning to make the trip this year as I've already done it the previous year but with some persuasion and knowing that the Special One Jose Mourinho is back at the helm I figured it would be a good time to finally see the sights in Washington DC.

For this trip, I went with a couple of friends and the plan was to have all basic expenses to be under $300. That would include hotel, transportation, and football tickets. After all was said and done, final numbers were at $320 due to forex and taxes which was still a very reasonable amount.

We took a bus from Toronto to Washington, a trip that was supposed to go for 13 hrs but instead lasted 15 hours due to typical delays and a huge car crash on our route to Philadelphia. It was freezing inside the bus and worst of all, wifi wasn’t working.

We knew beforehand that this was going to be one hell of a trying excursion. Leave Canada Friday, arrive Washington Saturday, and then depart by plane Sunday morning. That gave us just half of Saturday to eat, go around, and watch the football match. After all was said and done, I’d say we did a pretty good job.

First thing we had to do after such a long trip was eat. Fortunately, Shake shack, which was in my “places to eat” list in New York but never got to, was along our route.

I was glad to have finally tried it although, other than a very sour pickled pepper in the sandwich (which I liked) , nothing really stood out for me and I found everything to be quite average.

Up until dinner, time was spent paying visits to the typical tourist attractions, Capitol hill, Lincoln memorial, the White House, Smithsonian museums, just to name a few. With a lot (and I mean a lot) of walking and just going in and out these places, I’m pretty sure I was able to visit most (if not all) the places I had set my sights on. Here are a bunch of photos I took (and there were a lot!)

I was fairly impressed with the City. Clean, wide roads, good shops, nice residential areas, good transit, not much to complain about really.

Going through all these places took us around 3 hours and we were dead tired at the end of it. We went to our hotel (Washington Marriott hotel), rested for a few minutes and headed out for dinner.

I was checking out several websites about where best to eat and all of them had Zaytinya hovering around the top of their list. A Mezze restaurant (Mezze is to Middle eastern cuisine as Tapas is to Spanish cuisine), it was the best one that was reasonably priced plus the bonus of having the acclaimed chef Jose Andres as owner.

We got the meatballs, calamari, pastirma, meat sampler and by recommendation, the lamb kleftico.

I was disappointed with the pastirma primarily because I had no idea what it was but ordered it anyway. Turned out to be a beef jerky kind of appetizer that was not filling at all. The calamari, meatballs, and meat sampler were, as expected outstanding just as good as described on the menu. The meat balls and kebabs were tender, flavorful, juicy, and the calamari was just cooked to perfection.

The highlight of the meal however was the lamb kleftico. Lamb in puff pastry that was highly recommended by our server justified it’s price (12$ for a few bites). I don’t really eat lamb but man this was a memorable dish. How they constructed this dish with puff pastry flawlessly I will never be able to replicate (I actually tried).

After dinner, we realized we miscalculated the time to get to the stadium. We got their a few minutes after kick-off and as we were walking towards our seats, it dawned on us that we were sitting around the Roma supporters side of the stadium. This is significant because it was probably a 90% Chelsea crowd and we got to sit at the 10% area.

In the end it was a 2-1 win for Chelsea but it was kinda hard to celebrate the goals, being in the Roma section and all.

Getting back to our hotel we were tired, hungry, and lost. We eventually found a Mcdonalds where I got the most refreshing order of orange juice I have ever had. Honestly, that juice was the best thing I had on my trip, relatively speaking.

Heading back to Canada was a much more pleasant trip as we went home by plane with a stopover at Ottawa.

Overall, it was a good trip, no snags, everything went according to plan.