Washington D.C.

We rose super early in Raleigh to make our four hour drive across Virginia into DC, just in time to meet friend Tommy at the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins NFL game. Yep, combined with the previous night’s NHL, it was going to be a big weekend of sports. We weren’t actually attending the game but instead just meeting Tommy and his family for the tailgate, a typical pre-game gathering in the parking lot of a stadium where eager supporters barbecue, drink beer and just generally pump themselves up for the game.

As we finally reached DC and drove around the streets crowded with football supporters, Anita amazingly spotted Tommy in the sea of fans walking with his family. We quickly found a park and joined them, walking towards the stadium in a gang of purple and yellow. It was minutes after arriving that Tommy’s mum Colleen flashed two spare tickets, stating that Tommy’s aunty had them for two people that could no longer make it and they’ve now been gifted on to us. How lucky were we?!

We slammed the rest of our Budweisers and Fireball Whiskey and marched on to the stadium, quickly finding our seats as we joined the chants of eager supporters. The match was everything you could ask for, with crash tackles, line breaks and the occasional hurl of abuse from a burly fan. The Vikings even won the game as visitors, much to Tommy and family’s excitement. After a great afternoon of football we said our goodbyes and headed to the city centre where we would be meeting Anita’s Uncle Barry who was hosting us for the next three nights.

We were welcomed into the warmth of Barry’s apartment and after a brief catch up over some nibbles, walked to a nearby restaurant. There we discussed everything planned for the coming days over some plump dumplings and stir-fried noodles. It sounded like we had a lot to look forward to, that’s for sure.

The next morning Barry took us on a personal tour of the many memorials of DC. We first walked past the Einstein Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, then down to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. We then hired bikes and rode down to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and across to the World War II Memorial. After a walk around we continued on to the Roosevelt Memorial, Barry’s personal favourite, and the Jefferson Memorial before swinging past the Washington Monument on the way to the grand finale – The White House.

After a few hours of riding we’d worked up quite an appetite, so Barry treated us to a lunch at the Old Ebbit Grill, Washington’s oldest bar and restaurant. The interior was beautiful, with plenty of dark wood, vintage hunting equipment and traditional art. The place had so much character. Anita and Barry sensibly ordered a salad after our chicken wing appetiser but I foolishly opted for the Reuben sandwhich, which when hit the table almost broke it from sheer weight. After a sensational lunch Barry took off to work while Anita and I headed over to the Library of Congress.

We took the guided tour under Barry’s recommendation and were so glad we did. The library is incredibly rich in history, and the tour guide we had was so obviously passionate in her explainations. After our door we walked through the underground tunnel connecting the library to the US Capitol, then back out onto the streets where we made the long walk back to the apartment.

That evening we met Barry for yet another stellar meal, this time at the *mumbles* Trump International Hotel *mumbles*. Jokes aside, the steakhouse was absolutely superb. Everything from the service, the steak, even the clothesline of candied bacon (yep, you read right). We had such a fantastic night and again, all thanks to Barry’s hospitality.

On our last day in Washington we walked up to the Smithsonian National Zoo where we spent a good part of the day wandering the park. It had been so long since Anita and I had been to a zoo that we forgot exactly how enjoyable they can be. In particular the Amazonian exhibit, where an open-plan micro climate had been created and non-threatening animals and visitors were free to roam. We saw tropical birds, fish, monkeys and even the world’s most poisonous frogs. It was really incredible.

That night we met Barry for one last dinner, this time at Kyirisan, a restaurant that melds Asian flavours with French flair. It was a fantastic meal of creme fraiche wings, pei mussels and even a whole fried fish. We were in foodie heaven. After stuffing ourselves silly we headed back to the apartment and passed out almost instantly from our coma-inducing night of indulgence.

A very big thank you to Tommy and his family for welcoming us into the Malone and Vikings army and bringing us to the game. We’re now life-long supporters. Skol, Vikings!

And of course a massive thank you to Barry for not only sheltering us from the cold but showing us and our stomachs the very best of DC. We are so incredibly grateful, beyond words, so thank you.

Next stop, Philly!

– Dek

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