Sunday, 6 January 2013

Exploration 2: Washington DC & Philadelphia

Continued... 

20 Dec - Arrived at Washington National airport and took a cab to our hotel in downtown. Very convenient location as we walked to most attractions. We checked in and walked out for dinner at Thai Tanic restaurant. Good and authentic Thai food they serve. Love their pad thai and tom yum soup. Only bad was, gratuity was unknowingly included in our total bill, which I thought was absurd. We wouldn't give that much of % for unimpressive service.

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Equestrian statue
21 Dec - We had breakfast at Pret A Manger. I love their sandwiches and chicken noodle soup. Was simply good and extremely fresh! After which, we walked to the National Museum of Natural History for a day of knowledge. Museum isn't as boring as it sounded. The kids enjoyed and were amused by the exhibits. There were exhibits of Ancient Egypt, Evolving Universe and human origin, if you believe in evolution. They displayed a real mummy which was an eye opener to me. For some moments, the kids got confused between Mummy and their Mummy. Why the same terms! There were also collection of fossils, artefacts and other animals. It was a good day of fun. 

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Pret A Manger - They claim, "made today, gone today."
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'Zoo' in museum with still animals
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With dino fossil
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The National Christmas tree opposite White house
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The White House - After which they cordoned the area for Mr President's holiday to Hawaii
22 Dec - Also within walking distance from our hotel, we visited the National Air and Space museum. A place where you can view collections of historic air and spacecraft. They displayed real historic planes in there and those got the little ones excited. Some timings of the day, there was also storytelling session for kids.

Did I mention? Entrances to the both museums are Free.

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Hopping onto our private jet
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Aircraft carrier
We collected our rented car from Union Square and drove 2 hours to Philadelphia. We missed our collection time and was saved by a few minutes, arriving before they closed. We were rejected but my man 'pleaded' for help. And Thank God we got our car. If we've had more time, we would walk around Union Square.

23 Dec - Had breakfast at Dennys, which I was impressed with their breakfast menu. Was a good tasty breakfast we had. We then set off to Sesame Place for some theme park fun. It was freezing cold and challenging to stay outdoor for long. Spending minutes or more in lines got us very unbearable. We watched some musicals and took rides with little queues. After dinner, when the crowd subsided, we went on the rides till it was time for Elmo and friends to sleep. Swift and fast with no queues.

It's different expectations. I thought the Sesame place would be really impressive, but it looks and feels kind of cheesy to me. Well, it made the kids happy but some rides are just not meant to handle crowds. Staying in line that moved inches frustrated us. The parade was crappy and extremely short. It paused frequently and long to dance and entertain, which wasn't good for audiences with obstructed view. Disney wins hands down. Or perhaps, it might be better to visit during summer when weather permits better play and with the wet fun attractions open. 

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Entrance to Sesame
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Christmas Musical
24 Dec - We visited the Please Touch Museum which I was glad we did. The man was near to omitting this venue from our itinerary, but I spoke for the kids. It was awesome kids fun for the little ones. They loved it, so did I. Visit only if you have kids, it will be boring for the grown ups.

It's an impressive place and as the name suggests, everything is touchable! If not, they'll just case it up. It's like an indoor playground for kids. There's also a carousel with very beautiful hand carved wooden animals that kids can choose one to ride on. You'll need to pay additional for the ride. The theater storytelling show was good. Both kids gave good attention to it.

Entrance is not free, it's USD16 per pax. Same price for adults and kids above one year old. Great fun, but at costly price.

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Please Touch museum
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Groceries shopping!
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Hospital for the aspiring young doctors
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"Welcome to McDonalds"
We didn't know that the museum will close at 3pm on Christmas Eve. We visited late and wished we had more time in there for the kids to enjoy, and of course to make our entrance fees more worth.

After museum fun, we had dinner at Sang kee noodle house, where we had Peking duck and some great Chinese food. Somehow, I still think Asian food is more yummy with lots of variety. Great restaurant, albeit a little cramped and crowded. And on this Christmas Eve evening, it started to snow! We were exhilarated and this marked our first white Christmas together!

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Let it snow, let it snow!

25 Dec - Two major holidays that most places are closed throughout US are Thanksgiving and Christmas. That left us with limited places to go, and so we ended up at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Most Jewish don't celebrate Christmas, and there was a kid's party in there. We popped in by chance and bought tickets for the little ones. They had some craft and baby disco fun. Unless you are interested in American Jewish history, it's not worth a visit.

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Disco fun
26 Dec -  We got onto a sightseeing bus and toured around the attractions. We stopped at the Reading Terminal Market for lunch. It was pretty crowded during lunch and getting seats was like SG's foodcourt style, without the tissue paper reservation. Food vendors were interesting, ranging from fresh produce to crafts. So why named as 'reading terminal?' Beats me. I thought it was all about books!
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Reading Terminal Market
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Meat platter - Yummy!
Philedelphia is a very beautiful place with historic and Gothic buildings all around. Driving isn't necessary if staying in central area. Metro stations are accessible to most places and parking isn't cheap in most hotels. We had to keep our car in the hotel's garage and not use it till we leave for our next destination. The longer you park, the cheaper your hourly fees.

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Nice historic buildings

And our journey will be continued in next post on Buffalo, Niagara, Woodbury and New York City...

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