So Much to Celebrate

So Much to Celebrate

There are so many perks to having visitors here in D.C. -- especially when it’s your family. This occasion usually guarantees a few things: you don’t feel homesick for about 60 hours straight, you can make no excuse not to get out and see the sights, and food—lots, and lots of good food. Lucky for me, on top of this visit was a second occasion—warranting presents, special dinners, and enough dessert for a month; this week was my 20th birthday! I am so happy that all of my family—both sides, could make it here this month to celebrate with me. With my family and my boyfriend (Michael) visiting me, I have so many experiences to thank them for in this next blog.

Wednesday was my actual birthday, and it would have been an entirely normal day of my work-to-home routine, if Michael hadn’t shown up and made the day feel special. After my internship, I headed home to find two beautiful bouquets of flowers from my family, and Michael waiting for me with my roommate, Bri. We had an Italian dinner in the DuPont Circle neighborhood at a restaurant named Floriana. The restaurant was quaint, quiet, and candlelit—tucked inside an old home standing since the early 1900’s. Their claim-to-fame is lasagna, which they are quick to boast is the best in the city. I’m not sorry to say I didn’t actually order it, because, when you have a grandmother from Italy—some titles are so earned, they are not to be tested. However, if you find yourself here in D.C., craving some lasagna, I would guess their claim isn’t phony; Floriana had a real Italian feel, genuine menu, and most waiters even spoke Italian (think beyond your last Olive Garden experience—Mangia!). After dinner, I wasn’t ready to go home, nor was I wanting any dessert from Floriana, (the Italian’s just don’t value chocolate like I do) so we headed to Kramerbooks and Afterwords Café. This place is super cool, and apparently everyone knows it because it was packed late on a Wednesday night. While you wait for a table, you can browse the bookstore, hence the name; there are books of every style and genre stacked to the ceiling. Here we had a double chocolate cake that was to die for. Michael semi-joked that I had probably thought about licking the plate clean if we hadn’t been in public…he really knows me; it was a great birthday.


Night Time Walk to the Capitol


On Friday, we took a day off from our internships and had mandatory programming with The Washington Center. The day was centered on an International Festival, where the international interns had an opportunity to showcase pieces of their countries and cultures. My roommates Aiko and Gaby, from Japan and Mexico, participated in individual booths with traditional dances and foods. Later that day, my Mom, stepdad (Oscar), and my little sister (Brooke) all arrived in D.C. to continue in my birthday celebrations. Once I showed them around the building and opened up my presents, I took them to the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. The hours rushed by and then it was time for dinner at Central Michel Richard on Pennsylvania Avenue. As a picky eater, this place was way beyond my taste buds’ horizons…but it’s what I expected when my mom told me Oscar (a chef) chose the restaurant. Usually in fancy places, I skip right to the dessert menu to be sure there is something I can eat (everyone does this I’m sure); I was not disappointed with my dessert options despite the extravagant French entrees—complete with frog legs, escargot, and many things better if not explained to me. Surprisingly, I tried cheese puffs (seemed safe) and loved them; I also ordered a lemon chicken schnitzel that was pretty yummy. I did however save the best for last and ordered crème brulee and a plate of macarons (don’t judge me, I shared). Most of us interns don’t have the budget to dine here at all, however, if you really love French food and someone else is picking up the tab (your family)... Oscar really loved it—and that says a lot.



Brooke, Michael and I at Central Michel Richard


After dinner we all piled in a cab to Georgetown where my Mom and I had a fun idea. If you’ve ever been to Georgetown, I’m sure you’ve seen it—that red neon light hanging off the brick row house that reads “PSYCHIC $5”. Let’s be honest, it’s a little tempting depending on whether or not you at all believe in the sort of thing. It was more of my idea, but my Mom wasn’t about to let me have all the fun! We headed into the house and up the narrow, candlelit staircase—the ambience was quite appropriate. It was pretty much your stereotypical psychic experience; the woman was “gypsy-looking” and there was a cat roaming around (not black, but calico). Then there were some out of the ordinary details such as the man smoking a cigarette in the next room, the grandmother who read my palm while watching NCIS, and the rat looking dog passed out on the edge of the bed next to where I had my palm read. These psychics are tricky too—once you get inside the house and read the price list, there actually isn’t $5 option… but you can have your “chakras” cleansed for $200 if you’d like - HAH. In truth, it was all kind of bogus but it was surely amusing, and I still believe in psychics… just maybe not the one with the neon sign on M Street.

Saturday morning we grabbed breakfast sandwiches and bundled up for the zoo. For a zoo that’s completely free, it was pretty spectacular. We saw all the normal things you would find at any other zoo, and it was all very navigable. Although they still aren’t showing the baby panda, the father panda was out and was enthusiastically… napping. My favorite part of the zoo is usually the birds, and they had so many here. They even have owls—which is my favorite wild animal. Something really special about the National Zoo, even though I hate to admit it, are the monkeys. I am actually very frightened of monkeys and do my best to avoid them during any zoological adventures, but the monkeys here were hard to ignore; the National Zoo had tight-rope looking structures built in the air above the paths where chimps could swing and climb over the visitors. I personally thought this was terrifying, keeping my distance below, but everyone else seemed to think it was wonderful. I think if you enjoy animals, even monkeys, this is an awesome experience to see them all—and for free. It’s pretty neat how somewhere in this crazy city hides a vast and peacefully wooded zoo; of course, there’s a Starbucks for your pleasure directly beyond the zoo’s gates.



Inside the Elephant Barn


After the zoo we went to the Capitol to take some pictures, and headed back into Georgetown for dinner. Both days seemed so busy and filled with activities, but somehow it was over before I knew it. Though, that’s how it is with family; no matter how much time you have together, when it ends it never feels like enough. All of my birthday celebrations may be over, but I can’t complain at all. I was able to do (and eat) so many amazing things that I won’t forget. I will certainly be checking off some “must-do’s” here in D.C. tonight. That’s what it’s all about—doing as many things as you can while you’re in this city—it’s just a plus when you get to do them with ones you love.


Photoshoot Outside the Capitol


“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”

–Benjamin Disraeli

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