I had a bit of an unconventional Thanksgiving this year. Instead of going home, I traveled to Washington DC with my friend Christina. In preparation for my semester abroad next year, I needed to visit the Austrian Embassy to get my visa processed.
We stayed at the Hosteling International Hostel in DC, just a few blocks away from Metro Central, which was a great hostel. Not only was it affordable, but they also offered all of the linens we needed and free breakfast. The environment there was also a plus. Everyone was really friendly and cool. The hostel had nightly outings if you were looking for something to do. We went one night on a free walking tour of Georgetown, and got to see where the Kennedys’ lived and a little of Georgetown University.
All of Friday morning was spent across town at the Austrian embassy applying for my visa. It was a bit hectic and stressful, but every single person I encountered that morning could not have been nicer, so I made it through. My application got accepted for processing, and my visa should arrive, along with my passport, in a week or so. Afterwards we got coffee with a friend of mine who recently graduated, and headed over to the International Spy Museum. There was a line, and the whole place was pretty crowded, since it was the Friday after Thanksgiving, but it was still a good time. The museum focuses on the history of espionage. I was very excited, because I have always thought spies were fascinating. When you arrive inside the actual exhibit, you are instructed to choose a cover identity, and later on you are tested to see if you can maintain your cover. There were lots of interactive exhibits, but we missed quite a few due to crowds/long lines. I would suggest going to the museum at an off time, if possible, to really get the full experience. They were also running a special exhibit on Bond villains, which the two of us felt we couldn’t fully appreciate, having not seen very many Bond movies. However, if you have a Bond buff in the family, they will probably like it.
Saturday was the day we had reserved for the Smithsonian. We toured the Air and Space, American History, and Natural History museums until we wore ourselves out. Air and Space was in full swing, with volunteers out in the exhibits giving hands on presentations. American history, on the other hand, had a whole wing shut down for construction. A lot of my favorite parts of the museum were temporarily gone, which was a bummer, but they still had the First Ladies’ gowns and Julia Child’s kitchen, so I won’t complain too much. It just means that I will have to go back when the renovations are finished. The Natural History museum was a delight. We skipped the Hope diamond room, and most of the crowds, to focus on the hall of mammals and wildlife photography exhibits. We joked that since it was too cold to go to the zoo, we would look at taxidermy and photographed animals instead. All of it was very fun.
By the end of our Smithsonian adventure, we were exhausted. We decided to check out Chinatown for dinner, and stumbled upon Chinatown Express, a small Chinese restaurant where they make their own noodles fresh everyday. I had the duck noodle soup, and it was out of this world delicious. Now I can’t stop talking about it.
It was an enjoyable, brief trip to check out the nation’s capital. Thanks to Christina for coming with me!