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  • moriond
    replied
    Sacharissa, you might want to look at historygal's Mr. Synapse Goes to Wahington thread. (Her meeting was in Bethesda, MD, so she was staying just outside the north tip of DC, while Crystal City, VA is at the southern end – close to National Airport and just across the river from the National Mall, etc. The National Mall area is separate from most of the other places you'd go to, and I think the easiest way to get there is to take the Metro, then walk to the Smithsonian and other sights along there. For other parts of DC, you might find the DC Circulator bus routes more convenient than learning the Metro bus routes and subway stops. There's a link to their web site (that I just fixed so it will work as a link) in my post to Janine about ways to get to Georgetown, and there are maps of their different routes. They also have discount 1-day and 3-day passes.

    Your hotel (Hyatt) is further from the Crystal City Metro stop than Janine's (Marriott) or than the Crystal City hotel I last stayed at (Hilton). They run a shuttle bus to the Crystal City metro stop, and I think it only runs up through a certain time in the evening. You might find TripAdvisor's web site handy for things to do in DC and their 3 Days in Washington, DC page. Also, the Washington Post put out a free Explore D.C. iPhone app that can be handy, if you have an iOS device.

    I like the Newseum as somewhere that gets relatively less coverage as a tourist site, but it isn't somewhere I'd include if you're pressed for time. Also, this has paid admission (although the Explore D.C. app Deals section will get you a $5 discount through 11/9/12).

    HTH. It's been a while since I lived in DC, so others may have better suggestions. I'm disheartened by number of bookstores that have closed there in recent (or not-so-recent) years.

    moriond

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  • Sacharissa
    replied
    Thanks for the travel tips, Photocat -- particularly about using the Metro! I believe I will miss the morning commute, but may hit the evening one. At least I've been forewarned! And I've got my comfortable walking shoes ready to go!

    Leave a comment:


  • photocat
    replied
    Sacharissa

    I would suggest planning out what you want to see as much as possible. 6-8 hours is not much time in D.C. as there is so much to see. The metro does sell all day passes Metro - Home page and just a reminder, in case it hasn't already been stated -- the metro in D.C. is crowded at any time but jammed to the gills during the commuting hours in the a.m. and p.m. during work days. If possible try to avoid those times. Also, you have to pay to get out of a metro station. It is an odd set up. We go up there to see concerts a lot and had to make a couple of different train changes to get to the Verizon Center. We accidentally went out of one station within the herd of people we were in and had to pay to get out at the end of the night as our card ran out of money. (Also, the metro does not run 24/7 and is an old infrastructure in need of some serious updating -- a well known problem that no one wants to pay for up there). The Washington Monument is still closed from the earthquake. It won't be open again until 2014 I believe. The museums are great and I quite enjoyed the National Archives which is also a relatively quick trip if you can fit it in. I've lived 2 hours from D.C. my entire life and still haven't really seen everything up there. (Traffic is a nightmare and it is very expensive so admittedly we don't go often). I don't think I've eaten at a bad restaurant there either - so pick what you like!

    Oh and don't forget the camera!

    sue


    p.s. Forgot to mention -- lots of walking. Expect a lot of walking
    Last edited by photocat; 10-14-2012, 08:23 AM.

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  • Sacharissa
    replied
    Well, wasn't this just a handy thread! I will be heading for DC myself in another week and a half, and will also be staying in Crystal City, though at the Hyatt instead of the Marriott. All of this information has been so helpful!

    I do have a couple of questions, though...I will have about 6 to 8 hours on Tuesday to cram in as much sightseeing as possible. Is my best bet to hop the Metro and head to the National Mall? Or are there other not to be missed sites? I was thinking I might start at the Smithsonian Castle, but then what? Head for the Capitol? The White House? The Library of Congress? I'm pretty open to ideas for making the most of my one totally free day! Oh, and any must try restaurants?

    Also, does the Metro sell anything like a one or two day pass? If so, would those be the best options? I for sure have Tuesday open, but not sure about Wednesday...I probably have some time in the evening, but that would be about it. Heading back on Thursday.

    At any rate, I am totally looking forward to trying out my brand new Aeronaut and Co-pilot, which should arrive this Tuesday, giving me a week to test pack. I know -- the Aeronaut is probably overkill for such a short trip, but I've been wanting one for EVER, and since I suddenly find that I will be making several trips over the next few months for work, I thought this would be a good justification to finally bite the bullet and order one. Between the Aeronaut and the Co-Pilot, I am looking forward to no-checked-baggage Nirvana!

    Leave a comment:


  • Janine
    replied
    Lessons learned from my trip to DC:

    1. Watch the weather in your destination carefully in the days before you travel. I packed exactly the right clothing and I was ridiculously proud of myself for that accomplishment.

    2. I packed a light toiletry bag, but I needed even less than I brought. I think I fell prey to the fear of sitting in my seat and needing a tissue right then. Maybe next time I will categories my personal care items as "will definitely use daily" and "emergencies" and try to minimize the "emergency" pile.

    3. I brought too much Dyneema! I didn't use my TSS or TT! I loved having them with me, though, just because they are beautiful. :-)

    4. The PCSB is even more awesome than the awesomest awesome thing ever. I love mine.

    5. I would have liked a TSA-friendly laptop solution for the comfort of keeping all my personal possessions attached and handy. Not like I could have left my laptop behind; I would have noticed immediately that my backpack was suddenly light and comfortable.

    6. I just might prefer a true backpack to my WF or TS for airline travel. Obviously, I need to take many more trips to explore the features of all my bags and thus map out the precise times when each would be ideal.

    7. This forum has many excellent people who generously share advice about food, lodgings, shopping, and getting around one's destination city. I love you guys!!!!!

    Janine

    Leave a comment:


  • BPritchard
    replied
    I never fly into Reagan Airport. Landing and takeoffs are rather "scary". The airport was designed for the 1930-40 props, not the current jets. When you land, you feel like you are inches away from the river since the plane has to land right on the edge of the runway so not to skid in the water at the end of the runaway. Then they have to put the engines in reverse overdrive to slow the plane down. I always look for nuts and bolt on the runaway due to the terrible shaking.

    On takeoff, due to noise abatement, the planes have to follow the river; which means a 45 degree angle turn. A couple of valium will help during takeoffs.

    Leave a comment:


  • Janine
    replied
    Curbside Cupcakes! It's a big pink truck filled with cupcakes and it drives to you! Oh my google!

    Leave a comment:


  • moriond
    replied
    Originally posted by Katy View Post
    Did you go to DC Cupcakes!???
    I was going to suggest this In my earlier post with directions on how to get to Georgetown. They're at 33rd & M Street, and open until 9 p.m. Here are the links:

    moriond

    Leave a comment:


  • Katy
    replied
    Originally posted by Janine View Post
    I have three words for you, my friends:

    Cupcake. Happy. Hour.

    Suddenly I LIKE THIS TRAINING CLASS.
    Did you go to DC Cupcakes!???

    Leave a comment:


  • Janine
    replied
    I have three words for you, my friends:

    Cupcake. Happy. Hour.

    Suddenly I LIKE THIS TRAINING CLASS.

    Leave a comment:


  • Janine
    replied
    Hi everyone! I'm here in DC now!

    Packing list information: I ended up not bringing my Tri-Star after all, and it's my laptop's fault. I'm going to return my Brain Cell. While I marvel at the protection it provides, it isn't a standalone bag for a woman person - even one who carries a minimal amount of stuff in her purse like me. I really needed to go with something like a Cadet. I ended up bringing my Timbuk2 HAL pack, which has a padded laptop compartment. I packed all my clothes in two Packing Cube Shoulder Bags. I packed my laptop power cord, mouse, and phone charger in a Snake Charmer (it was serious overkill but I was jonesing for a reason to use my hitherto unused Snake Charmer). My toiletries are in a Clear Quarter Packing Cube; wet stuff in a ziplock on one side, dry stuff on the other, as suggested in this thread. I brought my Co-Pilot as my personal item. It had the CQPC, my purse items, and a few Dyneema Organizer Pouches in it. It was a very effective setup for the trip here. On the flight, I stowed the pack overhead and kept the Co-Pilot with me for easy access to my gummy bears and water bottle. In the airports, I was able to carry all my own stuff hands-free.

    And now I finally get the Smart Alec! The HAL is just a big buckety top-loader. It has an organizer section in front, but I just had a steno notebook in there which I could have easily put it in my Co-Pilot instead. I could have packed my loot in a Smart Alec instead and been just as happy (well, a little more happy, especially if it was an Aubergine/Wasabi one).

    I people-watched during the whole trip but didn't spot any Tom Bihn bags besides my own. *sigh*

    Thanks for all the good advice, friends! I look forward to doing a little exploring tomorrow!

    Janine

    Leave a comment:


  • Janine
    replied
    Oh my goodness, @moriond, what a great post. Thank you so much for the words of wisdom.

    Leave a comment:


  • moriond
    replied
    Hi Janine,

    You've already gotten quite a lot of info from backpack. I'll just add a few comments based on having made a couple of trips for review panels where I stayed in other hotels near National Airport (sorry, I lived in DC in the period before it was rebranded as "Reagan"). First, your hotel is really close to the airport -- as in, you could walk to the airport in a pinch, if you had to for your departure. That makes it really easy if you're flying out in the morning or evening, because the shuttles from the hotels can avoid the rush hour traffic and have almost direct access to the airport access ramps (not quite), and probably run every 15 minutes then. However, I've only ever left during the morning, because connections to Hawaii mean that I'd have to overnight somewhere if coming back from a full day's meeting.

    There seems to be a higher fraction of people with carry-ons flying out of National than most other U.S. airports I've flown out of, so if you're able to board early, that can be a help. Even though your carryon will fit easily into the overhead or under the seat, there are lots of people with more problematic baggage. I think I watched my Tri-Star get shifted about 3 times by people who were optimistically trying to find more room in the overhead bins for their belongings during my last trip from DC. You know -- the fact that this bag has a small footprint and could be stood upright and still fit into the bin, plus the easy pull handles meant that it was easy to move around. And hope springeth eternal for finding more space for overstuffed bags, it seems.

    There are a lot of restaurants along 23rd (see backpack's linked map), and that was pretty close to my Hotel (Hilton), but not as close to yours, although it's still within easy walking distance. One of the restaurants I like along 23rd St. is Urban Thai, which also has a vegetarian-friendly menu.
    Your hotel is pretty close to the Crystal City metro stop, so if you're not up to the cruise that backpack suggested another possibility might be to go into somewhere like Georgetown for dinner, which would also give you a view of the city in the evening, after your workshop sessions. There's no Metro stop directly in Georgetown, which is centered around Wisconsin Ave. and M St., but you could take the Metro to Roslyn, VA, and then take the $1 Circulator Bus that runs till midnight, or else walk over the Key Bridge into DC and Georgetown. I was hoping that maverick would weigh in on this thread with some other suggestions, but backpack and dorayme gave lots of good advice.

    Hope you have a great trip,

    moriond
    Last edited by moriond; 10-16-2012, 09:45 AM. Reason: Fixed link HTML code for DC Circulator buses

    Leave a comment:


  • MaggieScratch
    replied
    I do the same thing as bchaplin.

    Also, definitely wear pants on the plane (yoga pants or something with some give will be most comfortable). Word is out that if you wear a skirt, you will get a secondary search, apparently because you could be hiding something between your legs. And now they do the grope-your-privates kind of hand search. For all that certain parties complain that people dress like slobs on airplanes, security makes it difficult to dress nicely.

    I haven't flown in about a year, but also heard that lately the TSA is being very specific about everyone having their liquid toiletries in a clear quart ziploc baggie with no writing on it. If you want some karma points, bring a couple extra for those around you who don't have one.

    Leave a comment:


  • Janine
    replied
    @backpack, that stroller is amazing! I highly recommend the BOB brand! Ours isn't even a new one; it's a 2007 that has seen much use from its previous owners. It still pushes as well as a new one, though, and the boys love it. And thank you for the kind comments about my family.

    I'll ask my coworker if she's interested in the evening cruise. That sounds lovely, and maybe a nice way to unwind after a hard day learning stuff. The point about crab cakes has been noted!

    @dorayme, I'm glad it gets easier. It's healthy to spend some time apart and I don't want to stress about it. As for a companion bag, I'm torn between using a PCSB and carrying my current PLO (an Overland Equipment Placer). I'll wait to see how my clothes and the new Brain Cell fit in the Tri-Star before I pick, I think. And I reserve the right to change my mind any time until I leave the house on Sunday, LOL!

    Good idea to take some photos before I go!

    Leave a comment:

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