In the “About” section of this blog I explain our travel style as pretty much all over the map, er spectrum–ranging from 2 star to 5 star. Our recent trip to Washington, DC was definitely at the lower end.
Basically we took the trip in the first place to burn a couple of free companion tickets on our airline of (forced) choice. For the past several years we’ve been receiving these tickets because of a combination of earned miles status and allied credit card usage. Somehow we’ve always put off using them until there wasn’t time enough to book by the deadline and the freebies have gone to waste. I was determined not to do that this year. Further I was determined to rack up miles while using them and so we offered to work out a deal with friends who had just welcomed a new granddaughter and wanted to meet her.
Companion ticket strategy
Val and I both booked a flight to DCA with one half of the couple of new grandparents each as our traveling companions, then split the total costs 4 ways enabling us all to travel for half price and for Val and I to get miles into the bargain. It worked out for all of us all the way around. I felt pretty smug to finally be getting some use of our free companion tickets.
Guest lodging in friends’ condos
To make matters even better our friends have a friend who lives in a wonderful old condo complex near the National Cathedral that allows guests of their residents to book guest rooms at the condo for a mere $110 per night per double room. You cannot beat those prices for lodging in DC and the place (elegant in an old-fashioned way with lovely landscaping) , the rooms (immaculately kept but a blast from the past going back to the 40’s and maybe even beyond) and the surroundings (lovely, residential locale), could not have been better if we’d paid 3 or 4 times the price. Just being there made the trip even if we’d not felt so smug about doing it for so little.
If you are traveling somewhere specifically to visit friends who live in a large housing complex or even if you’re not specifically visiting them but will see them while you’re in town, consider being bold enough to ask if their condo has guest rooms available and if they would “sponsor” you as a guest so that you might avail yourselves of the opportunity to occupy one of the guest rooms instead of going to a hotel. We know one fellow who does this rather routinely on what he jokingly calls his “mooch marches.” It can afford some wonderful lodging possibilities.
But the trip wasn’t all about saving money, it was about seeing a place we love to visit, taking our time about it and enjoying whatever came up. Our friends saw the new baby and her family and we all had a great family cook-out with them and their neighbors one evening.
We had a couple of wonderful lunches with a friend of ours and some nice French dinners and we walked about some of our favorite places in the city—Georgetown, Washington Harbor, the Mall, and the area by the White House. We drove by the monuments, some old neighborhoods our friends had lived in and just enjoyed being in a wonderful city.
Here’s some pictures of what we saw—and ate.
Washington Harbor, where Val has fond memories of Happy Hours at Tony and Joe’s when he did business in the neighborhood and where we had our best meal of the trip at Fiola Mare with perfect oysters, tempura shrimp, a wonderful lobster roll and scallops on a bed of Tuscan beans with shaved truffle. All that and a wonderful view of the Potomac.
The National Cathedral that we were never able to catch open when we were in the neighborhood but that looks great from the outside.
The East Wing of the National Gallery of Art–both the building and the exhibits.
Lunch at Proof in the vicinity of the National Museum of American Art and Portrait Gallery.
The White House, and my favorite, the Executive Office Building.
A jaunt over to Dupont Circle area for a quick lunch at an old haunt of our son’s, and an opportunity to see preparations for Gay Pride festival scheduled for the following day.
A walk through Georgetown, with a stop at Dean and DeLuca there, and later that evening dinner at La Chaumiere, with delightful old France atmosphere and some great French classics, like fois gras, sweetbreads and, best of all, cassoulet.
All in all, it was a great–and cheap–visit to our National’s Capitol, one of our favorite U.S. cities.