We’re one month into the New Year and have you had your first trip of the year yet?
I went for the long weekend to Washington, D.C. with my middle daughter to meet my new grandnephew. So cute! Our son came over from NYC. And while we were there we took in some sights. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how much I would like DC in January. But as it turns out, I really liked it.
To give you a small taste of what you can experience in DC, here's our itinerary.
Day 1 - Fly PDX – DCA Reagan National airport
Day 2 - We took our time getting up and out in the am. (remember there’s a baby in the house and we’re on West Coast time.) We went to the Smithsonian Information center, aka, The Castle. It is where you find out all about the other Smithsonian’s and where you can read and see displays of the history of the Smithsonian Institute and how it started. A good choice for a first stop.
We walked across the Mall to the National Museum of American History. Some might think this is a war museum. But it’s actually a history museum of American culture and life. The Star-Spangled Banner on display here is that flag that flew over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem. We also saw Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, first lady gowns and White House china. And… the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman. “Holy history, Batman!”
Lastly, we walked over to the National Archives to see the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It was pretty awesome to be able to see these founding documents and read the stories surrounding them. I have it on my calendar to read the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July.
Day 3 - Saturday. Today we woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground. But the life of a tourist continues on and we hopped on the train into town. The Library of Congress was first on our list. What a beautiful building where every little statue and decoration has a meaning and a purpose! We took a guided tour which are offered for free throughout the day.
(Tip: take a tour!)
The building was finished in 1897/98 and came in $200,000 under budget which the contractor returned to the United States Government! When do you ever see something like that happening today?!
Walking past the Capital Building and the Supreme Court building, we couldn’t help but be awestruck by their size. And another thing.. no crowds.. because Saturday....snow...January.. and a federal holiday weekend. (#travelintheoffseason)
Did you know that there are Van Gogh’s, Monet’s and Renoir’s and Picasso’s at the National Gallery of Art? So, we headed there to take a look around.
One last stop this Saturday. By now the snow had melted and it was raining! Really raining. My umbrella flipped inside out! Should we take a taxi? No, we're from Oregon, we'll just walk. So, 4 blocks in the rain we walked to the National Portrait Gallery. In the 20th Century American Gallery we saw the much talked about portrait of Michelle Obama. And marveled at the work of Robert McCurdy’s lifelike painting of author and Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison. Also, on display here are portraits of all of the Presidents of the United States. We liked walking around the room, looking at the portraits, reading their stories and pondering the story behind the portrait.
Day 4 – We’re pretty much museum’d out by now. But there’s still a few more things to see. We went in the morning to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture which just opened in 2016. Normally you get your tickets for this in advance (https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes). Or on the morning you want to enter, you can get on the internet at 6:30 am to snag an available timed entry ticket. One more option to enter on day of is to come at 1:00 and see what the availability is. Veterans, active duty personnel and first responders may enter the museum during any open hours as long as there is capacity and may bring one guest with them for their visit. That’s how we got in as our hosts are members of the military. Even though it was a Sunday morning in the middle of January, it was still crowded. This was the most crowded of all of the museums that we went to.
In this museum, you can learn about the over 400-year "uneven" journey of the African-American from slave trading in the 1600’s to 21st century life.
There is A LOT to see and read here. There are 4 floors. You could easily take one day just exploring each floor. But most visitors probably spend 3 or 4 hours here. And that’s what we did. In this museum on the top floor in the kind of foyer or entry like area, there was a display of African-American preachers. One section highlighted Rev. Howard Thurman who wrote “Jesus and the Disinherited”, which was a founding text for the civil rights movement. It’s on my list to read this year. Ask me about it!
We stepped out into the cold January afternoon, (think east winds here in Portland), and walked to a few monuments before heading back to our host home in Alexandria for a dinner of homemade pasta, a few games of Sleeping Queens, and baby snuggles.
Day 5 - A day of relaxing with family, and more baby snuggles, before our non-stop flight home.
I know most people will spend more than a long weekend in Washington, DC. Most of my clients spend 5 - 7 days. I hope this gives you a taste of what awaits you!
Tips: We actually ended up keeping our schedule pretty much on Pacific time which worked out great for us. (Sometimes when we’ve gone the other way to Hawaii, we’ve kept our schedule on Pacific time as much as possible, too.) Restaurants: There aren't many restaurants in the museum section of town. In the summer season, there are food carts available. But in the off season, either pack a lunch or head to the museum cafes. But check the hours. We just missed closing time at one.
I like being a curious traveler. Do you? If you enjoyed this blog, let me know. And please share it with a friend you think will also enjoy it! If you have any questions about a Washington, DC trip for you or a group, reach out for a free consultation.
Consider a trip to the land of the midnight sun, NORWAY.
How about hoping a plane to Norway? Well, it's not exactly a hop. You'll probably have a stopover or two getting there. Norway has definitely been on 'the list' of places to visit these last few years. People talk about it's incredible scenery and the beautiful fjords, viking museums and the Northern Lights. You can go in winter for the Northern Lights and in the summer if you want to stay up all night! Tromsø is considered to be one of the best places in Norway to see the northern lights. Tromsø is about 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle.
Another way to see Norway is on a Hurtigruten cruise. As a world leader in expedition travel for more than 125 years, Hurtigruten is an expert in navigating Norway's majestic fjords. I must say in travel, we usually don't hear about special offers before they happen, but this year Hurtigruten is having a Black Friday sale of up to 50% off on selected sailings with booking dates of November 27 – December 4, 2019. All expeditions are subject to availability at the time of booking. Other restrictions may apply. Watch this short video and enjoy a peek at the Hurtigruten way of travel.
If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend you think will also enjoy it! If this video intrigues you, and you want to find out more, contact me!
Hello and welcome to the to the ‘Vacations Inspired – From a Traveler’s Perspective’ series. I’m sharing with you what I hope to be the first of many stories of my client’s travels. Another way for you to hear what my client’s say and to be inspired for your future travels.
Neil and Mary have traveled over the years to many of the places you and I dream about going to. This next adventure kept coming on and off their list. How it came to be was that a friend invited them (#traveltip - invite a friend) to come along with them, and the Galapagos Islands was back on. So, they emailed me to book their cruise. And as long as they were going that far, and knowing that Mary wasn’t too fond of flying, I suggested they just continue on down to Machu Picchu while they were half way there.
Mary has been a bird-watcher for over 10 years, so the Galapagos held some allure for them. Between the two of them, they are always on the look out with their binoculars and camera for another “life bird”. A "life bird" is a bird species that a birder has identified and seen in the wild for the very first time in his or her life. Some birders have a specific list, like a bucket list, or it can be any bird that a birder sees for the first time.
Machu Picchu was in the back of their mind because one of their daughters had gone there a few years before and highly recommended it. So off they went.
They sailed the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic & Lindblad Expeditions. Neil says, “If you want to go beyond your normal vacation, do more than return to the same destination or resort or escape from that typical cruise, tackle an expedition to the Galápagos Islands with an extension to Machu Picchu. The expedition provided opportunities to see wildlife up close from a kayak, paddleboard, zodiac, glass-bottom boat or while snorkeling, or simply walking on the beaches or on trails gazing at the Galápagos giant tortoises up-close.”
Expedition cruises have a team of experts on-board perfectly fit for the curious traveler; expert naturalists in all fields, even certified photo-instructor naturalists.
Memories - Galapagos
“Seeing the endemic wildlife of the Galápagos islands including the Galápagos giant Tortoise, Waved albatross, Frigate birds, Darwin’s finches and Marine iguanas and in addition, colorful footed birds as the Red-footed booby and the Blue-footed booby and also the only penguin to live north of the equator is a once in a lifetime treat. Never once did our ship dock at a pier as our standard mode of transportation on and off the islands was a rubber boat called a Zodiac. Whether going a shore was a dry landing or a wet landing the Zodiac was carefully guided by a skilled driver.”
And onto Peru
When Neil and Mary finished their Galapagos cruise, they boarded a plane from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima and then to Cusco, Peru where they were met by a private guide for their trip to their hotel in the Sacred Valley, which included sight-seeing along the way. After a day of relaxing at their hotel and adjusting to the altitude, the next morning their private guide picked them up bright and early for their trip to Machu Picchu by car, train, bus & hiking.
“The tour of Machu Picchu was fantastic. Flying into Peru to tour Machu Picchu finds you in Cuzco and above 11,000 feet. Cuzco was very colorful with Andean women in traditional clothing and llamas seen on the street. Don’t miss the marketplace with everything from souvenirs to food can be found there.”
How many life birds did you see?
“In Galapagos, 22 plus the great blue heron was a different subspecies, and a flamingo in its natural environment, not in the zoo, so that would technically bring the total to 24. Plus, on the rest of the trip (in Peru), I saw 8 more life birds. So, all together, I saw 32 life birds. Wow! I hadn’t counted them all up before.”
Thoughts on Using a Travel Advisor?
“Day tours, private transfers, hotel arrangements by Julie took the worry and trouble out of seeing the beautiful landscape, local people and finding the train and then the bus to see the ancient buildings of Machu Picchu.”
With a camera full (over 2,000 photos) of memories, Neil and Mary were ready to be home with time to rest for whatever travels come next. And I’m happy to help them with their travel planning. Do either of these two trips sound like just what you're looking for?
If you’re interested in a trip to the Galapagos, Machu Picchu or any other amazing place on this beautiful planet, please reach out to me. It’s my pleasure to help Vacations Inspired travelers experience authentic journeys where relationships deepen and cherished memories begin.
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