Daily Archives: April 14, 2018

washington d.c. – day four (we’ve got a spy on the inside*)

*Hercules Mulligan. Still on the Hamilton kick…

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little behind on posts, but I’m still feeling optimistic about reinstating the habit. It’s been a really busy month, but it’s nice to have a little reminder each day to pause for a few and write something down. The flip side of that is that the actual photo editing and organizing and uploading takes so much longer. That’s what is holding me up on the rest of the DC posts – I really took a ton of photos from midweek on.

So I thought I’d do a quick start to our fourth day, and then finish that day up in another post. It started with a really exciting moment very early in the morning – on the third day of trying, I finally managed to get same day tickets to the NMAAHC. If you can plan a trip 3-6 months in advance, I HIGHLY recommend doing that, and booking tickets with an early entrance time. But, if you’re like us and don’t plan your trips until 6-8 weeks before, then this is acceptable backup plan.

Tips: Same day tickets are made available at 6:30am. Set your alarm and have your computer ready. Hit refresh every other second starting at 6:30. The options don’t show up right away. It was typically around 6:34. So I just sat quietly in the hotel room while everyone else slept and tapped the refresh button for several minutes on end. Good times.

The screen will suddenly change which will freak you out the first day. You will lose your cool and as a result, will also lose all chances to snag passes because they are gone in like 45 seconds. So try again the next day, and be chill about it.

On the second day the screen will list all the entry times – from 8:30 to 4:30 in 30 minute slots. A few of the late morning or afternoon slots will have a select button. Do not do what I did and contemplate the best time slot for your itinerary. Punch one, quickly. Even better, punch the second one down because everyone else is punching the first one. You get a drop down menu that has you select your number. Choose quickly. On the second day, between me selecting the time slot button and three seconds later, pulling down the menu for four tickets, the tickets were all gone. I returned to the time slot page, and everything else was gone as well. So I was discouraged, but also very determined to be as quick as possible on day three.

It worked. On the third day I grabbed a time slot, selected “four”, and they were mine. I took photos of the computer screen on my phone. I took screen shots. I made a pdf of the main screen and all of the e-tickets. I emailed them to myself and my husband. I saved the images in my photos. I attempted to print them out in the hotel lobby, to no avail. But we got in with the tickets on my phone. More on that visit in the next post.

With tickets for the afternoon secured, we headed over to the Eastern Market for their famous blueberry buckwheat pancakes.

It was a really beautiful morning, and the walk from the Metro station to the market was really pleasant. All the buildings in the area had really interesting ornamental brickwork. The market was pretty quiet after the morning rush, and we ordered pancakes and found a seat. I knocked over a full cup of hot coffee, which was really awesome, but the pancakes came and were delicious.

After breakfast, we headed over to the International Spy Museum. I took a few photos inside, but not many. This wasn’t our favorite part of the trip. Part of it might have been the admission fee – we were so used to being able to move in and out of free museums all week, planning specific things that we wanted to see in each one, and not feeling guilty about having to stay long enough to justify the admission price. But the Spy Museum is sort of pricey, and (at least on the day we visited) was not adequately cooled or ventilated. It was stifling inside, and crowded. Shuffling through a museum like cattle while carrying all of our bags and camera, etc. plus stripping off layer after layer of clothing wasn’t a lot of fun. There were some cool things to see in there, and I actually learned quite a bit as we went along. But the flow of the museum felt limiting and I don’t think any of us were too terribly disappointed to leave.

The gift shop was pretty clever, but we didn’t feel like buying much after what we paid to get in. F’s hat was cute, but we also thought it looked too much like a MAGA hat, so we said no to that purchase.

The gnome was really tempting though…

And… a funny side story for you. The morning we were in line for the National Portrait Gallery, the couple behind us struck up a conversation with us. They were from Virginia, and were meeting friends to see the Obama portraits. They spend a lot of time in DC proper, and had so many great recommendations for us that weren’t the typical tourist go-to’s. They recommended going to the National Building Museum, and M and I kind of laughed and said that lots of people had mentioned it but there was a part of us (as architects) that wondered if we really needed to go to a museum about what we do for a living. (I know, it’s super cool, and we made a short visit there later that week!) But you know what I mean. Anyway, they laughed at that, and then we mentioned that many people had also recommended the International Spy Museum across the street, and had they ever been to that? They looked at each other and laughed and the husband said “well, same… I just retired after 26 years from the CIA.” It was hilarious that we both pointed out the museums dedicated to the others’ professions. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our conversation, and I sort of wanted to go to dinner with them. I felt like there was SO much more to the story of their careers and retirements and the current administration…