Burgers, Shakes and Nats Dogs

honey badger shake

Much to my delight, a week of walking around Washington meant Mr F&P and I could enjoy some seriously good burgers and shakes and not feel in the least bit guilty.

Friends advised us that there was only one place to get the best burger (take away style) in DC, and that was at Five Guys. So after a trip to the International Spy Museum (a must for Bond fans) we went in search the nearest Five Guys to our apartment in Columbia Heights. These places are a bit like Starbucks in that we didn’t need to go very far to find one. So what’s the deal? Basically you get a burger (plain, with bacon, cheese, or bacon and cheese…) with pretty much anything you want. A burger with “the works” comes in at just under 7$ so it’s cheap as chips.

I was so hungry I practically skipped back to the apartment to tuck into this…

paper bag from Five Guys

burger on instagram

Five Guys drink

And here it is up close… my first ever Five Guys burger…

Five guys burger whole

Five Guys burger halved

Yup, that’s two burger patties and some of that sliced packet cheese Americans love putting on everything. I was definitely in the mood for a burger, and this one was totally delicious. The fries were tasty too, not too salty and they leave the skins on giving them a much more home cut feel than our skinny take away fries.

Ok, now lets shake things up over at the The Diner. Clearly we like a bit of symmetry to our trips as this was our first and last foodie stop in DC. My Lonely Planet Guide had pitched The Diner as a great place for some late night munchies, or an awesome weekend breakfast. Whatever time you go, you have to get one of these shakes… topped with whipped cream they are deliciously decadent. This one is a honey badger – vanilla, banana and honey.

honey badger shake

Wondering what the silver cup next to it is? I was too, it’s the rest of the milkshake that won’t fit into the glass! We also tried chocolate and strawberry shakes, both worthy of the extra shake.

And finally, time for some Nats Dogs – hot dogs at a Nationals baseball game. On our final Friday evening in DC we headed to the Nationals Park to watch the city’s baseball team play the Atlanta Braves. I’ll be the first to admit I know nothing about baseball, but with the way the Americans put on a sporting event, it really doesn’t matter. In the States a night out at the baseball is just that – an entire evenings entertainment. We wanted to do things properly so pitched up at the Bull Pen for some pre-game drinks in the sun.

Bull Pen Nationals Park

Vodka lemonade in the sun

There was a live band playing and the place was buzzing. Unlike rugby or football matches at home, the crowd was really mixed, groups of guys and girls, families and older couples all soaking up the atmosphere. We headed over to the stadium to make sure we were in time to hear the national anthem and see the first pitch being thrown.

Approaching nationals park DC

Nationals Park DC

Nationals Park statue

Much to my delight, the first 1500 fans through the turnstiles got given these cups (I LOVE a freebie!). EVERYONE was wearing Nationals t-shirts (even Mr F&P!) so I was chuffed to have some memorabilia to take away with me.

Nationals Cup

pitch

Once we’d established where our seats were and the game got underway, it was hot dog time. The funny thing about American sports games is that everyone wanders about, even once the game as started. The lines at the food stalls are busy from the moment the stadium opens to the last pitch, and no one is in the least bit bothered by people getting up and down from their seats.

Nats dogs in hand, we headed to the DIY sauce stands. Having never seen these before I got a bit overly excited.

DIY sauce stands

DIY onions

hot dog with sauce

Nats Dogs

And whilst we were up I topped my Nationals cup up with some summer shandy.

Summer drink

Mr F&P was able to give me enough baseball knowledge to vaguely follow what was happening, but more than anything I simply enjoyed being there, people watching and soaking it all up. In between innings (that’s a baseball reference right there) there was some entertainment including a “Presidents Race” – people dressed as President mascots with giant, comical heads racing round the pitch, t-shirts being thrown into the lower stands, and a fan man who from time to from popped up and started a chant to get everyone going.

Nationals stand later

Nationals stand sky

Presidents race

Throughout the course of the evening the smell of fresh popcorn was just too much to resist…

Popcorn bag

Popcorn

Stuffed, happy and all cheered out our night, and the baseball match was drawing to a close. Unfortunately on this evening the Nationals lost 6-4, and I have to admit I’m really no wiser to the rules of the game. However getting me to voluntarily spend the best part of 4 hours at a sporting event is impressive, so I say well done Nationals, and if I lived in DC I’d be a big fan!

Welcome to Washington

Capitol Hill close up

Not even a full week at home and I’m already dreaming of going back to Washington dc! For two, full, glorious weeks Mr F&P and I were basking in the stateside sunshine, and we only just managed to drag ourselves home last Sunday. The reason for visiting was the Boyd-Lee wedding – one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to, but I’ll blog about that later! If you’re just here for the foodie chat, head over to my Georgetown post and you can read about some of our foodie adventures there…

But for now, it’s all about downtown DC. We topped and tailed our trip with some time in Washington and as a huge, no, ENORMOUS West Wing fan, I was beyond excited to check out the White House, see Capitol Hill and soak up the history.

We decided to have a Monuments Day and try and see as many of the greats as possible in one go. This was A LOT of walking, but totally worth it. I knew my first port of call had to be to The White House – I didn’t realise it was so close to everyday life in DC. From our apartment we were able to walk straight down 16th Street, one minute we were crossing the road and the next thing I knew the most iconic building emerged before us. Of course it was mobbed with tourists, but we managed to get a few good shots. You’ll notice the weather improved as our day went on, but looking back I am grateful for the morning cloud cover. There’s nothing nice about red, burnt tourist shoulders!

Walking down 16th Street
Strolling down 16th Street
White House first glimpse
A rather stormy looking sky as we catch our first glimpse of the White House
TAH DAAAAH!
TAH DAAAAH!

Numerous White House selfies later (on my part, Mr F&P played it much cooler), we moved on to see Lincoln, and stood on the very step Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech from – quite an incredible feeling. We had spotted the Lincoln monument as we were driving into DC and the sheer size of the columns and steps even from the road was incredible, never mind up close.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln up close

Lincoln collumns

The view looking out over the National Mall to the Washington Monument was breathtaking. Click on the panoramic pic to see in full size!

View from Lincoln to Washington

Panoramic view

I was going to say that we wandered through the rest of the national mall, but it was more of a decisive stride, knowing we had a lot to get around. From Lincoln we passed through the gardens of the National Mall and saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, then Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, followed by a walk around Tidal Basin to see the FDR and Jefferson Memorial, and we stopped for a breather at the Washington Monument.

Vietnam War Memorial

names on wall

The forgotten war

Korean war pool

And over to Martin Luther King Junior. The memorial structure is a direct reference to the line “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” from his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

From there we wandered through FDR’s impressive memorial space, and the sun decided to join us for this part of the walk too.

FDR

FDR and dog

And how you could not want a picture with FDR’s Scottish terrier Fala!

Fala

Then on to our last stop before lunch, walking round Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial building.

Jefferson

View of Jefferson from tidal basin

A spot of lunch at the sculpture garden in the National Gallery of Art and we were re-energised and ready to take on Capitol Hill. I have no doubt the sunshine made this impressive building look even more awesome, and it certainly helped my photography skills.

A spot of lunch in the Sculpture Gardens at the National Gallery
Lunch with a view – Sculpture Gardens at the National Gallery of Art

Sculpture garden

And now for the fancy, sunshine filled photos….

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill panoramic

Capitol Hill close up

Isn’t it stunning? Unfortunately we weren’t able to get inside and have a look around, but we stood in awe outside for quite some time and soaked up some of the rays.

There are still plenty buildings and museums I’ve not mentioned to be seen around the National Mall as we didn’t cover all of it. I’d advise leaving yourself two if not three days if you really want to visit all the Smithsonian buildings and really make the most of that part of the city. Entry to the museums is free which unfortunately means a lot of queuing, and a lot of coach and school trips. However we did visit the International Spy Museum which wasn’t free, but a must visit for Bond fans.

After our intense day of history we spent the rest of the week hanging out with friends and visiting other areas such as Georgetown, Adams Morgan and Old Town Alexandria, so stay tuned for more stateside ramblings.