Recently, we made a quick trip from Seattle to Washington, DC. With just three days to take on the town, we found ourselves gallivanting from The National Mall to Arlington, VA, cramming in as much as possible. This is our second trip with Avery on hand, so it was challenging to mark everything off our bucket list…but we did managed to check out these must-see spots:
It was built to honor George Washington.
Abraham Lincoln Memorial
A white stone building with 36 columns and featuring a solitary 19-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in contemplation, flanked on both sides with inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address.
The views over the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument are amazing.
World War II Memorial
At the east end of the Reflecting Pool sits the World War II Memorial, which honors all 16 million people who served the American armed forces, including more than 400,000 who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
It contains 56 granite columns that symbolize unity among the 48 states, seven federal territories and the District of Columbia. And the two 43-foot tall structures highlight America’s victory on the Atlantic and Pacific fronts during World War II.
The U.S. Capitol Building
The domed U.S. Capitol building is where the business of Washington – and America – happens, and is a massive network of buildings, offices and meeting rooms.
We got to do a private tour thanks to a friend who works at the Capitol Building. We went on a Sunday when the Capital is closed so we had the whole place to ourselves.
Battle of Iwo Jima
Dedicated in 1954, the Marine Corps War Memorial (or the Iwo Jima Memorial, as it’s often unofficially referred to) honors every Marine who has served since the founding of the Marines in 1775. The design of the memorial was inspired by Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. It features six 32-foot figures raising a 60-foot bronze flagpole. The entire memorial is 78 feet tall.
There are a few things that I collect when I travel:
Snow Globes. Magnets. Site Pennies. and Postcards!
I stop collecting snow globes cause I don’t have space to display them, currently they are in storage bins (tear). I recently started collecting magnets and site pennies. Site pennies are the machines usually found in souvenirs shops and they usually cost only $.51 cents. I’ve always collected postcards cause they seem the easiest to store and put away since they don’t take up to much space!
So while clearing out the storage room, I came across my box of postcards and started to reminisce about all the wonderful places I’ve been to. I didn’t like that the postcards was just sitting in a box and wanted to find a way to show them off! So I did some research on ways to display postcards and nothing seems to catch my attention…until I came across ‘My Adventure Book’ the exact same book from the cartoon movie UP. I thought what if I place a postcard on each page with a picture from that place!
I bought new colorful paper to replace the poop brown color which was totally worth the extra time of cutting and hole punching each sheet of paper! I used my ever growing collection of washi tapes to place the photos on the pages.
And Whad’ya Know, My Adventure Book turned out amazing! Here are a few pages from some of my favorite locations!
Would love to hear how you guys displays items that you bring back from your travels!
We started off our NYE evening with an all-you-can eat/drink dinner at Prubechu located on Mission street! A Guam restaurant that serves Chamorro food with a twist! Their main course – the roasted pig – was indeed, the BEST! The skin was deliciously crispy and the meat was very tasty without the need for Mang Tomas (Filipino gravy).
Afterwards we headed back into the city to a Jazz nightclub called Biscuit and Blues to listen to Cafe R&B! The lead singer ‘Roach’ was phenomenal and very hilarious!
On New Year’s Day we sported our green and blue gear and made our way to Levi’s Stadium to enjoy the San Francisco 49ers lose to Seattle Seahawks 25-23!!!
As we move froward to the New Year, we look back on all the warm memories, feel proud of our achievements and take a lesson from our previous mistakes. Hope you all have a year filled with endless fun and laugher.
For Black Friday we ventured out to my usual u-Cut tree farm over at Mountain Creek Christmas Tree Farm in Snoqualmie and chopped ourselves a 6ft Noble Fir Tree!
The place is simply magical and there’s no better way to get excited for the holidays than bundling up, hopping in the car, cranking some Christmas tunes, sipping on cider, strolling through the farm, and picking out the perfect Christmas tree.
Have a safe Black Friday shopping everyone!
The spooktacular This is Halloween showcases a live orchestra, cabaret, burlesque and visual art installations that provide entertainment with every lively move at the Triple Door. Inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, this seasonal spectacular is a ridiculously fun time.
We got great seating and enjoyed a fantastic menu from The Wild Ginger Kitchen along with delightful cocktails & desserts! It’s a def. must when Halloween season rolls around!
Visiting the Uffizi Gallery museum is like taking a journey into the Renaissance. It holds some of the most important masterpieces of all time from Italian artists like Gioto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio.
The museum is organized in theme rooms about artistic periods or specific artists. So we made a plan to see certain rooms that house famous art pieces!
This is obviously the GO-TO museum if you only have a day in Florence!
Next up is one of Florence’s oldest landmarks, the Ponte Vecchio. This special bridge runs through the Arno River that contains shops physically built into its structure, most of which sell jewelry and gold. However, artisanal goods of all sorts have been sold here since it was first constructed as far back as the 12th century.
As we continue to make our way around the city, we stumble upon Piazza della Signoria which has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century. We got to see amazing statues of Hercules and Cacus, Loffia dei Lanzi is a free open air museum that had sculptures like The Rape of the Sabine Women or Perseus with the Head of Medusa.
Since we didn’t have time to make it to the real David from Michelangelo (located in the Academy Gallery), this replica will have to do.
We found this shop, Bartolucci by accident, while walking through various streets in Florence. I’ve always been a fan of Pinocchio and its many characters. This shop is overloaded with the guy, toys, figures and gift items, but all made from wood. The shop is really small, but magical!
Since our hotel is right next door to The Church of Santa Maria Novella; there was no excuse not to visit one of the most important Gothic churches in Florence. The exterior is the work of Fra Jacopo Talenti and Leon Battista Alberti. The interior holds extraordinary works of art including Masaccio’s Trinità, Ghirlandaio’s fresco cycle in the Tornabuoni Chapel and Giotto’s Crucifix, among others.
From Pisa, we took another train to Florence. We arrived Florence a little after 1 pm and went straight to our hotel room where we relaxed after a looooong morning of traveling and climbing The Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Since I had already pre-purchased ticket to see the Duomo the day we got there, I figure that’s where we should start. So after freshening up we ventured out into the beautiful city of Florence around 5 pm. We got to Duomo thinking that we are just going to see a church…not realizing that we were being set up to climb another set of stairs. Oh boy! We were NOT prepared for this, but there was no turning back!
Florence is home to the Duomo, the city’s most iconic landmark. Filippo Brunelleschi won the commission in 1418 and set out to build something the world had never seen. It was revolutionary at the time, and honestly, it still kinda is.
During the climb we had awesome views of the interior of the Duomo. These paintings are the “Last Judgement” frescoes, showing heaven and hell. They are very graphic, in particular the creepy portrayal of hell.
So, if you ask me if climbing the 463 steps to the terracotta-covered Cupola is worth it. Um, YES! Absolutely! Yes it tends to get claustrophobic, but it all feels worth it when you reach the dome, with all of Florence at your feet.
After spending 2 days in Rome, we took a train to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. After arriving at the Pisa Centrale train station, it was just an half hour walk to the Leaning Tower.
We took a quick detour to view the mural of Keith Haring: Tuttomondo – the theme is that of peace & harmony in the world.
My first impression was is this for real? Is it really leaning?!? Yep, it sure was! The ‘lean” is about 15 feet and became apparent during construction : the culprit was soft land on one side that was insufficient to hold the tower’s weight!
After an airport-style security check, I was climbing the tower. The first thing that became apparent is that the entire tower is crooked…including the stairs! They are made from marble, rather slippery, and ‘grooved’ from the many people who have climbed over the years. It was quite disorienting to climb and I often caught myself laughing a couple of time because it was such an unusual sensation.
There are 294 steps on the north side and 296 steps on the south side. I was a little concerned about the fact that there was no solid wall or barricade, only a (presumably strong) wire fence, and YES, I was rather scared the whole time I was up there! From the top you simply have breathtaking views of the Piazza dei Miracoli as well as The Baptistry and the Duomo!
After a few more circuits around the observation level, I was craving level ground and descended quickly! It’s incredible how disorienting even a slight tilt can be. I’m so glad that I climbed the tower and experience an iconic structure in such a direct way…but I’m also emerged with a newfound respect for engineering and proper planning!
But we couldn’t leave the Leaning Tower of Pisa without doing the ‘perpective photo shoot’ – you know the ones…where it looks like you’re kicking down the leaning or tower, or saving it from topping over, or just holding it up!
Legend has it that by throwing one coin into the fountain ensures a return trip to Rome. I can’t wait to go back!
The Trevi Fountain is spectacular both day and night. I was lucky enough to see it in both scenarios. It is a massive, two-tiered fountain, sunk into the street and big enough to swim a pool length in. Above the fountain basin hovers many large and beautiful marble statues, the most prominent one being the statue of Neptune, God of the Sea.
Beautiful blue water spills over the ledge where the statues rest, and into the basin, which is lit with sunken lights. In the evening, light falls majestically onto the statues, and glows from underneath the water. It is a stunning effect. I think it is almost better to view in the evening than in the day, except in the day you really notice the wonderful blue tone to the fountain’s water.
On our second day of our Italy trip, we went ‘out’ of Rome to visit The Vatican City. Not exactly out and away of course since Vatican is situated within Rome itself. The Vatican City, with a population of 900, is the smallest sovereign nation in the world. It covers just over 100 acres, but it packs a lot into this space, having the most important collection of artifacts, art and archaeology in the Catholic world.
We started at St. Peter’s Basilica which is free of charge so the only line you must face is the security line and the only way to skip that insanely long line is with a paid guided tour…which we did and we highly recommend! I can’t even begin to describe how insanely BEAUTIFUL St. Peter’s Basilica is. It was breathtaking, words can’t even describe the feeling it gave me and the beauty of it – it was the single most beautiful building I have ever stepped foot into. You just have to see it to believe it. The sculptures, ceiling, altar, prayer halls, mosaic floor, bold pillars, decorations … everything is intriguingly marvelous.
As we exited we came across the famous Swiss Guards & St Peter’s Square
Water coming from the aquaducts are safe, clean, and cold throughout the whole city!
Next we went to the Vatican Museums. The Vatican Museum is HUGE!! I don’t know whether it’s humanly possible to see everything, the amount of stuff is simply too overwhelming. Right from the start, it was painting followed by more painting, a mecca for art connoisseurs. Same went for the sculptures that followed, the collections are equally enormous.
From then onwards, we’re walking around with our heads held high, literally, in order to admire the paintings on the ceiling.
The Sistine Chapel was next, quite possibly the most well-known place inside Vatican Museum. Ok, I know I am not supposed to take picture inside the chapel but I couldn’t help it. I eventually put my camera away and admired Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam & The Last Judgement. There are no words to describe how unbelievable remarkable this piece of art is. Extremely grateful to be able to experience this!
Vatican’s famous spiral staircase exit.