DC in the Fall, one of the loveliest seasons to visit the East Coast of America
Aer Lingus had just started flying direct from Dublin to Washington DC in the Spring of this year, the Summer golf season had come to and end and my duties as Lady Captain of my Golf Club were winding down, so hey what better time to take a trip.
The night before we left I was watching the weather forecast and to my horror I discovered Hurricane Joacim was moving up the east coast. I started to dread a bumpy flight or worse, needn’t have worried, we had a very smooth and relaxing flight over. Aer Lingus staff were superb as as always!
It was cold and wet when we arrived into Dulles, just like home! I was starting to wish we had gone a month earlier!
Our car pulled up outside thee fabulous W Hotel and my mood instantly changed, my word we are next door to the U.S. Treasury and just around the corner from Mr. & Mrs. Obama’s residence. What an amazing location. The lobby was buzzing with guests and staff too-ing and fro-ing, the luxurious decor reminded me of a scene from a movie from a twentieth century film, for a moment I expected to see elegantly attired ladies and gentlemen of that bygone era.
Our rooms were modern and luxurious, big comfy beds, mini bar, safe, fabulous Bliss beauty products and an unbelievable view of the U.S. Treasury!
After settling in we made our way to the POV rooftop restaurant and bar, tired and hungry I was looking forward to a good old American steak and a nice bottle of red!! I was so surprised when we arrived, the place was manic in a wonderfully vibrant way! folk of all ages chatting, eating, drinking cocktails all fabulously dressed. We were shown to a table and lucky to get one. Oh my goodness as I sat down I was hit with the most stunning panoramic vista of DC at night!
A great way to get around DC is via the Big Bus Tours, hop on hop off where ever you feel like stopping, they are good value and well organised.
Georgetown is a lovely and very interesting old town its also just a short ride from the hotel. From Georgetown Harbour you can catch the ferry on the Potomac river to Alexandria which is in Virginia.
The weather had improved so we chose to walk. From the 555 foot marble obelisk built to honour George Washington, to the great Lincoln building, then to the Vietnam Veterans monument. We crossed the Potomac river and walked the whole way to Arlington and to the grave of JFK. We both stood in silence for a while taking in the moment, the eternal flame flickering in the breeze.
Among the many visitor attractions are the Smithsonian museums. There is something of interest for everyone, most are located in Penn Quarter close to China Town. One of the museums we visited was The Spy Museum. This was really interesting and a lot of fun, definitely a place the whole family would enjoy.
My friend and I discovered very early on that dining out isn’t cheap in D.C. I would recommend checking out places well in advance so your not spending time wandering around. We had a couple of not so good meals but thankfully we did come across
some very good ones. One of the most memorable was Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. We began the evening with a house special cocktail named VIP, delicious. For starters we shared a fabulous seafood platter of fresh shrimp, lobster and crab. For the main we had prime rib of beef which was superb.The wine was also great, carefully chosen by the restaurant’s sommelier.
The staff were friendly and efficient. From start to finish the meal was a gastronomic experience and I cannot wait to go back to try something else on the fabulous menu.
Food in the W was wonderful, the POV I would put at top of our list of dining experiences along with breakfast and dinner in the superb Pinea restaurant.
From the rooftop restaurant at the W we watched the President’s helicopter flanked by two others fly from The White House. The following day while enjoying the views from the top of the tour bus a cavalcade of cars and jeeps came speeding past us, sirens screaming, lights flashing. Car drivers not hesitating to pull over to let thee VIP pass.
Later in the evening we decided to take the ferry cruise down the Potomac to Alexandria, its just a short trip and is a must do while in Washington D.C.
The journey also offers another way of seeing the sights as you pass some of the DC monuments.
Alexandria, is the city George Washington called Home, full of authentic charm it is nationally recognised for its rich history and beautifully preserved 18th and 19th century architecture.There are some lovely little boutiques and some good restaurants and pubs.
If you are feeling energetic you can walk the mile long King Street in the Old Town or take the free tram ride up to the top and walk back down visiting shops and attractions on the way back down.
When visiting Alexandria and I recommend you do, get The Key to the City this gives you access to many tourist attractions, and museums.
Being shopaholics a visit to the Simon Shopping Outlet in Leesburg was definitely going to be on the agenda, so a full afternoon was set aside for that experience. Yes and it was just that. We shopped till we almost dropped and gave the credit card a hammering! The centre housed all the top designer brands from Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Gucci, Coach, Armani and plenty more!! Prices are unbelievableand a fraction of the prices here in Ireland.
Our visit to Washington DC gave us the opportunity to see some of Virginia unfortunately not enough time to experience the fabulous golf courses I’ve read about but hopefully that will be for another time. Next to golf and travel my other passion is wine and we were lucky to have had the opportunity to visit some wineries in Louden County, Virginia. From DC we travelled by Metro to Leesburg station where we met our guide Christie. Christie was fabulous, knowledgable and passionate about the region, after the visit I felt like moving to Louden County.
Christie took us to visit three superb wineries where we got a chance to taste some of the best Virginian wines!
Fabbioli Cellars, despite the Italian name had a very definite Irish influence, this was due to the fact the owner’s wife Colleen has County Clare roots, her twin sister Maureen designed all the labels in Celtic style for the bottles. Entering the tasting hall one’s eye is immediately drawn to the notice on the wall “I’m Irish what’s your excuse”.
Every month they offer seven of their wines perfectly paired with seven gourmet food bites created by local chefs and food artisans – A taste sensation indeed.
We moved onto to Lost Creek and Bank Barn Vineyards where they both offer their own special wines and again visitors can enjoy tasting sessions in both.
Locals go along at certain times in the Summer to the wineries, some have picnics in the grounds while sampling the wines. This is a lovely family day out.
Although we didn’t see the Blue Ridge Mountains what we saw made us want to return and see more of beautiful county.
Before leaving DC we managed to get in a round of golf at the East Potomac Park Golf Course, the course is a municipal and is located in East Potomac Park in D.C., it features
an 18-hole course, two 9-hole courses, and a miniature golf course. The course is flat and has some challenging holes. There are some excellent views of the Washington monument and The Potomac river from many of the fairways.
Green fees are reasonable priced and clubs can be hired, the food is very good and the members really friendly. We took a taxi over and a very kind member brought us back to our hotel. Now where would you get treatment like that!
Our trip to Washington DC sadly come to an end, the experience was wonderful, I loved every part of it. Especially our stay at the W, The hotel staff were excellent.
Kim the hotel concierge was one of the best I’ve met, nothing was ever too much
trouble for her.
I was really fascinated by the history of this grand establishment.
The W dates back to 1917 and was originally The Washington Hotel. Part of the building once housed the Washington Stock Exchange. The architects who designed the W also
designed the New York City Public Library, the original House and Senate Buildings. The exterior features carvings of Presidents, Greek Philosophers as well as Masonic symbols.The rooftop restaurant was once an ice skating rink.
The W has hosted many famous celebs. such as Sinatra, Elvis, Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga as well as Royals from around the world. Because of its close proximity to The White House this high class establishment has also hosted many Presidents including Presidents Clinton, Nixon and Regan.
The Godfather Part II was shot in the Great room and the POV was the backdrop for Michael Balducci’s novel True Blue.
If walls could speak!!
Before departing we had to make one more visit to the POV restaurant where we enjoyed a typical American Brunch of Steak and eggs, juice, coffee and of course a glass of wine to compliment the meal! all this looking out across to the White House and a beautiful and sunny DC skyline.
Aer Lingus – Fly direct from Dublin to Washington DC
Stay-W Washington DC Hotel
Eating out – Del Friscos
Places of interest
Louden County Wineries, Virginia.
Big Bus Tours of DC
East Potomac Golf Course
Washington DC Monuments and Memorials Cruise on the Potomac
Alexandria Key to the City
For further info. on The Capital Region – Washington DC-Virginia and Maryland visit:www.capitalregionusa.co.uk
Parking Dublin; Quickpark.ie
Photos: Top.DC arial view;Whitehouse; W lobby; POV W;Del Friscos; Trolley on King St. Alexandria;Farm Leesberg;Fabiolis; winery Leesberg; Potomac G.C. DC; Concierge W.