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  • Day 1 • December 26, 2022

    Aerial skyline view of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Located near where the Rappahannock River crosses the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, Fredericksburg was a prominent port in Virginia during the colonial era. During the Civil War, Fredericksburg, located halfway between the capitals of the opposing forces, was the site of the Battle of Fredericksburg and Second Battle of Fredericksburg.

    Here we go again! During the week between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I’m off to enjoy another visit to Washington, DC, our Nation’s capital! I left home at about 5:30 AM, and took Uber to the Route 128 Amtrak station in Westwood. I took Northeast Regional train 195, which left on time at 6:50 AM, and it was a sold out train, even though it was the day right after Christmas! I was in business class, at a conference table, and I was sitting with a family who was traveling to Fredericksburg, Virginia for a few days. The Starbuck’s coffee was awesome in the café car, and since I had business class, it was free. I relaxed, listened to Washington DC’s news station WTOP on my phone, and enjoyed a chicken panini for lunch from the café car. We arrived into Washington DC’s Union Station on time, at 2:25 PM, and I got a Lyft to the usual hotel that I stay at during these visits, the Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion. Different from the last visit in June, everything in the mall below the hotel is closed, except for the Cheesecake Factory and T mobile, so hopefully more things will open or reopen in 2023. Fortunately, happy hour now came back, and while it’s better than having no happy hour at all, the glasses of wine were much smaller than pre Covid19, and there’s no bar, just tables. After happy hour, I took the bus downtown to meet my friend Shaheen, who I met from the Couchsurfing web site in 2015. She was actually going to be in Indiana, but because flights were delayed, she happened to be in town, so everything worked out. It was great to catch up, enjoy beer, and the crab cake platter at Old Ebbitt Grill was awesome. I got back to the hotel at about 11:00, and tomorrow will be full of surprises, including seeing a new friend Tabatha, going to trivia at a new bar in the Clarendon neighborhood, and other great surprises!

  • Day 2 • December 27, 2022

    Photo of the Brookland-CUA Training Station.

    Today, I enjoyed the awesome free made to order breakfast at the hotel, which hasn’t changed since my last visit. The fried eggs, home fries, bacon, and cranberry juice were awesome, and the staff were super helpful. Since the Starbuck’s in the mall is still closed, I walked up to the one on Wisconsin Avenue, had coffee, and took my first Metro ride. Some of the new trains are now back in service, after being out of service for a year in a half, so it was great to ride on some of those! I first went to a Starbuck’s reserve in the Brookland/Catholic University neighborhood of DC. It was a large Starbuck’s on Michigan Avenue, and it reminded me of the one that used to be in Harvard Square in Boston. After that, I took the Metro to the Dupont Circle neighborhood and had pizza at Pizzeria Paradiso, a restaurant that I haven’t eaten at since 2012. The pesto pizza with chicken sausage was awesome. I then relaxed at the hotel, and at about 3:30, took the Metro to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City where I met two new friends, Tabatha and Travis, who I met off of the Couchsurfing web site. Travis is from New York, and Tabatha lives in Alexandria. We walked around the entire four-story mall, and it was great to hang out for an hour. For dinner, I went to one of my favorite places in Georgetown, Angolo. I actually had the same waiter as my previous visit, making it super easy. The gorgonzola bread and Nachi in a pesto sauce with chicken were great, as well as the Italian wine. I took the bus back to the hotel, and got back at about 10:00 PM. Tomorrow, there will be more great activities, including meeting a new friend Alison, and enjoying dinner at Medium Rare Steakhouse and a few drinks at a bar in Adams Morgan!

  • Day 3 • December 28, 2022

    Exterior photo of the Penn Quarters Sports Tavern in D.C.

    Today, after enjoying breakfast at the hotel, like yesterday, I hung out at the Starbuck’s right up the road from the hotel. I then took the Metro downtown, and walked to the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, a sports bar that was suggested to me from someone off of Facebook. I met my friend Jess, who I met off of the Couchsurfing web site, and we enjoyed lunch and beer. The tavern was packed, and is especially popular when the Washington Capitals or Wizards play, since it’s right near the Capital One Arena. The chicken sandwich with bacon was awesome, as well as the homemade beer. After lunch, we walked to the National Mall, which is where all of the museums are located. Even though it was the week between the holidays, it was still crowded, and I was able to get some pictures. After that, at about 3:30, I took the Metro to the hotel, relaxed, enjoyed happy hour, and met a new friend, Alison, at the Medium Rare Steakhouse, located in the Cleveland Park neighborhood. Different from typical steakhouses, this restaurant has a set menu, all for $26. You get a salad, steak, and hand-cut fries, and it was great. I previously ate here in 2017, and it hasn’t changed. I met Alison off of the rentafriend web site, and it was great to learn about her previous trip to Japan. After dinner, we went to a dive bar called Atomic Billiards for one more beer. After that, I took the Metro back to Friendship Heights, but instead of going back to the hotel, I went to Clyde’s, a popular DC bar for a few more drinks, and got back to the hotel at midnight. Tomorrow, I’m off to Reston, Virginia to check out the new Metro Silver Line extension, as well as to enjoy a celebratory dinner at Filomena, an Italian restaurant suggested by one of my friend’s graduate school professors!

  • Day 4 • December 29, 2022

    Exterior photo of the Reston Center shops

    Today, I took the Metro to Reston Center, one of the new stations that opened as part of Metro’s Silver Line extension. This extension extends the Silver Line to Dulles Airport, and I heard that Reston Center has many shops and restaurants. It was about an hour ride from Friendship Heights, and upon arrival, I had no idea where to go. Someone was assisting me, and it was both of our first time there. After a lot of exploring, we finally arrived at the shopping center, which is a strip mall, and it was about a 15-minute walk. I had lunch at Capital Burger, which believe it or not is a chain. The burger with onions and gruyère cheese was awesome. This restaurant is attached to the Reston Hyatt Hotel, and when I was trying to figure out how to get back to the Metro, I found out that there’s a free shuttle van that travels around Reston Center. To bad I didn’t know about it when I got there! The ride on the shuttle back to the Metro took about 5 minutes, and I made my way back to the hotel. After a quick happy hour, I made my way to Georgetown to enjoy the celebratory dinner at Filomena, which was suggested to me by one of my friend’s graduate school professors. The calamari and the veal marsala were out of this world, and after the meal, you get a free after dinner drink, which is usually hard liquor. But since I don’t drink that, they gave me a free glass of wine, which was awesome. The staff were super helpful, and it was probably one of the best Italian meals that I’ve had. After dinner, I went back to the hotel, and tomorrow I’m heading back to Boston on Amtrak’s Acela!

  • Day 5 • December 30, 2022

    An exterior photo of Union Station in D.C. during a beautiful winter sundown.

    Today, after enjoying breakfast at the hotel, I packed and took Lyft to Union Station. Union Station was packed, and I took Amtrak’s Acela service, which is their high-speed train, at 12:00 PM back to Boston. I was in the quiet car, and when we arrived in New York City, we had to walk across the platform on another Acela train, because for some reason the first train wasn’t going on to Boston. I hung out in the café car during the ride, and the chicken panini, like on the Amtrak ride down to DC, was awesome. I arrived at Route 128 Station at 7:00, about 30 minutes late, and got home at 7:30. Overall, it was a great trip, and I’m looking forward to visiting DC again, along with Baltimore, in April!