Hi D.C., nice to meet ya!

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Excuse my shoefie, but how can you not take a photo of those adorable lazy Pandas? I’ve seen a ton of bloggers and instagrammers raved about Soludos and finally got myself a pair when I saw this panda design. I love pandas, the neutral color is pretty and so versatile to match with everything literally all season!

That said, I decided to bring this pair of shoes and as ‘main go to’ for my D.C. trip to spend July 4th 🙂 Pretty classy way to celebrate Independence Day right?

Using my imagination, I thought DC would not be hot like Charlotte in July. A girl can hope right? My imagination was crushed few days before the trip when my colleague and friend confirmed it was indeed hot and humid. (bleh). I spent a lot of my time in Asia, but somehow that is just not an excuse for me. I just do not get along with heat and humidity. Period.
Last year I spent July 4th in Charleston and learned the lesson hard, so I was very proud of myself to prepare additional clothes for this trip 🙂

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My flight to DC was less than an hour (the nap was too short!). Captain and I decided to stay at the Embassy Row for our 4day3nights exploration. It’s an excellent location close to all the embassies. I had a lot of fun checking out the flags and different architectures on the Uber ride to the hotel. A foodie, I was also pretty excited the opportunity I might be able to try some pretty authentic food around the area!
Arrived on a Sunday, after quickly checked in and put our stuffs down, we decided to start the adventure. It was nice to walk by the local weekend farmer’s market. There were a ton of delicious pastries, fresh veggies, etc. I saw a ton of people do their weekly grocery shopping there (by Dupont Circle station). Of course, I had to take a picture of the cherries – thinking General Washington 😉 Although it was later confirmed at my trip to Mount Vernon the cherry tree story is completely made up.

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First stop we went to the Lincoln Memorial. I was much prepared this year with a hat and a light cardigan, but boy it was hot! The view of the Washington monument in between the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial is something I’ve seen through internet, movies, and post cards. It’s always a wonderful feeling to see the famous scene in person. Since it was July 4th weekend, there were a lot of tourists like us trying to hit all the famous spots. ‘Make America Great Again’ also appears to be the new must-have souvenir in town.

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I cannot help but wonder how does Lincoln feel about the weather or the world nowadays? Must be something huh. I bet back in the days global warming was not a thing… Lincoln, we need some AC! I would’ve stayed a little longer but I just couldn’t stand all the people around me so had to do the most tourist thing – take photos, look around and off we go to the next stop.

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On our walk we passed by this WWII Peral Harbor memorial fountain. All the pillars are dedicated to different state and countries (such as the Philippines) who contributed to US’ effort during WWII. I didn’t have trouble finding North Carolina, while California is on the other side of the walk. An enemy of the humidity and heat, I just didn’t bother to walk.

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One thing I love and appreciate of the Smithsonian museums in DC is that everything is free! I remember having to pay $$ for museums in Chicago. They were not cheap! It’s so awesome you can have free access to all the museums in DC. They are wonderful! I was told there are more than 60 public and private museums all over DC.
The first museum we went on the trip was the National Museum of Natural History. As a kid, I did not have a chance to go to the junior high graduation DC trip because I was still in Asia. I was very jealous when my brother got to all and told us everything about it – especially about the famous Hope Diamond. It was definitely checked off bucket list/dream moment when I was able to see it in front of me. The museum has an impressive collection of rare gem stones. I really enjoyed learning the interesting stories about the jewelry pieces and the possible famous people linked to them – mostly royalties.

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An interesting fact I learned about the Hope Diamond was that it was apparently larger than it is now but was re-designed and cut a few times throughout history passed around different people. It’s amusing to think this jewelry piece has seen so much happened in the world – passed through different people, different era, wars… and now it is on permanent display at the museum. It reminds me of the movie ‘Red Violin’, how a piece of instrument traveled all over the world and sort of witnessed our human civilization silently.

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Smithsonian shop offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts for everyone. I love the cherry blossom section! I still hope one day I can visit DC when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Seeing the postcards and the products I can only imagine how pretty it must be! I especially love this top in fuchsia with cherry blossoms. Unfortunately it was kind of pricey so I stopped myself from purchasing. Upon gathering information to write this blog post I realized this is a DC Smithsonian limited edition top nowhere to be found on the Smithsonian website! As you can imagine, I am a little bummed I should’ve gotten it. I guess the saying is real – when you are on a trip and see something you like, do not hesitate, because you will leave regrets. It is no fun to leave mini regrets!

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Next stop, we went to the National Museum of American History. The building is much modern and clean shaped looking compared to the Natural History museum. Although we were running short on time, I was still able to see a lot of interesting exhibitions at the museum such as  American Japanese during WWII, the famous flag of US in a dark room, some more WWII related data, and my favorite of all – the First Lady inauguration gown / silverware & plates special exhibition! I had no idea they have this special exhibition when the museum was about to close to catch a postcard showing Nancy Reagan’s famous red dress. Captain and I rushed to the exhibition corner and luckily I was able to see the significant dresses dated all the way back to Washington era up to Mrs. Obama. Out of the collection, I actually like Hillary Clinton’s first lady inauguration dress the most. The dark royal blue is so elegant!

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If you are like me who is first time in DC, I think Hope Diamond is a must see for sure, but try not to spend too much time at the Natural History museum unless you are super into looking at the human skulls, mummies, animals, etc. Personally, I would probably just see the Diamond/gem section and move on to the American History museum. It offers a lot of resources and information only available in DC. If I could do it again I probably would prefer to spend more time at the American History museum considering they are literally right next door. (Be aware if you go during national holidays the line can get quite long with the scan/bag check process and all the tourists like us!)

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Although we did not schedule a tour to see the White House, it was very special to walk by the white building! All of us were gathering at the same location trying to snap a photo with the White House. If you want to take a photo exactly at where I was located, make sure to find the National Christmas Tree. That’s your best bet 😉

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Before we end the day/afternoon checking the historic monuments, the last stop was the kind of out-of-the-way Jefferson Memorial Hall. I might like this one more than the Lincoln Memorial because of it’s unique location. Perhaps it is the design of the building or the location, when you climb up to the main hall, you can immediately feel the cool breeze surrounding Jefferson’s statue. Especially on a hot summer day like the Sunday we were there, it was soothing, peaceful, and able to let you quiet down to spend few moments looking at the engravings, etc. The view was perfect, and the fact it was kind of out of the way (better to Uber here) there’s less crowd and offers very scenic view of DC. I have to come back in the Spring eventually to see the cherry blossoms surrounding the river. We just need that extra pink to make everything even better 🙂

In the evening we were able to try a quaint but delicious Thai food bistro very close to the hotel (Embassy Row area / Dupont Circle subway station). It appeared to be a popular place with a lot of people, and I had good Thai tea and red curry rice – both I haven’t had in a very long time. It was a delicious and nostalgic meal.

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Summer days mean the sun is out all the way until past 8, even 9 pm still feels pretty bright. After short rest and good food, we took a mini stroll by Dupont Circle to check out the other restaurants (scouting early for upcoming meals in DC), buildings, and also more walking to burn off calories 😛 In the photo is a Greek café that has the symbolic blue and white paint. One thing I definitely love about the Embassy Row area is that every little corner you can mistakenly believe you are in some part of the world. Mini United Nation 🙂

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To end the day we did something silly but memorable – and yes, I do encourage you all to try if you are around the area! Dupont Circle Metro Station. For fun we decided to take the escalators, but little did we know it was very-extremely deep! That thing must’ve been at least 5 floors…. it took a very long time to get to the bottom. Going down was not scary, but going back up certainly was! If you are not careful enough you might get in trouble and hurt yourself!
I loved ending the day finding this interesting escalators, and I found some other tourists also discovered the unusualness of the escalator and tried it exactly like what Captain and I did 😛

The weather was pretty tough on me and I got kind of sick (thanks to Advil to ease my summer headache), but I had a blast my first day exploring DC! I certainly hope to return again, even though there are still many places I should visit first before I return 🙂

Have you been to DC? What’s your favorite memory of it?
Stay tune for the rest of my adventure in DC the upcoming days 🙂

This week sure is dragging, why is it only Tuesday?!
k.

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