Ulog 60: Super weekend (Part 1)
It was an eventful weekend.
At the beginning of the week, I realized that we didn't have any activity planned for this weekend. I called up my wife to check if she had wanted to do anything. I gave her two options: Boston, MA or Alexandria, VA. We've been to both places. My wife quickly reasoned that it was too cold to go to Boston even though it would have been nice to find a lobster feast there this time of year.
We set our target for Alexandria, Virginia. We like that area because it has a large Vietnamese population and they have a shopping center filled with restaurants, shops, and bakeries catered to the Vietnamese taste. The name of the plaza is called "Eden," aptly named after the biblical garden. (https://edencenter.com/) We would visit the area once every few years. However, they were all day trips - i.e., we drove there in the morning, ate, shopped around for a while, ate again, and went home. We never actually stayed overnight.
This time around, I told my wife to relax a little bit. I went online and booked us a suite for the weekend. That way we could explore the area. We also invited my parents and siblings. My parents quickly signed on board. My brother said he could only come down on Saturday. I did a little bit of research to see for any local touristy places for us to visit. My wife didn't want the hassle of going into Washington, D.C. to tour any of the monuments. They were half an hour away as well. We found George Washington's Mount Vernon home, situated approximately 15 minutes away from our hotel. I booked tickets for a tour of it on Saturday.
Friday rolled around. I left work a little earlier than usual. I came home and helped my wife finished packing. She wasn't working that day, but she was "slow" with the packing because she took a long nap with my younger daughter. We finally packed up and left the house around 5 pm. We arrived at my brother's home in Mechanicsburg, PA at around 6:30 pm to pick up my parents. We got to Virginia at approximately 8:30 pm, checked into our hotel and my parents dressed down for the night. We had planned to arrive in Falls Church a little earlier so that we could go out to dinner. That didn't stop me from finding Vietnamese food. I checked my list of restaurants that I wanted to try for the weekend to see which one of them was the closest. Present (https://www.presentrestaurantusa.com/) was nearby. I ordered pho, gia gio re, and banh xeo. They have exotic names for all of the dishes. One has to be familiar with Vietnamese food to understand what s/he ordered based on the description. For example, cha gio re was called "Silken Shawl Imperial Autumn Roll." Sounds very fancy, but at the end of the day, it was a spring roll. Food was okay. It wasn't over-the-top. The restaurant has beautiful decor. Even though the family didn't get the chance to come and eat, it wasn't a big deal.
We woke up early on Saturday morning. It was chilly, and we were ready to try some hot pho at Eden Center. First thing first - I went and bought everyone Starbucks coffee, served Vietnamese style. Then we went and looked for chow. The first place we went to, called "Saigon Restaurant" (https://edencenter.com/stores/ngoc-anh-restaurant/) known for its banh cuon didn't have sit down service on the weekend because they have gotten so popular with their banh cuon that they concentrate on just selling that as take-outs on the weekend. So we went next door and ate breakfast at Hai Duong Restaurant (http://www.haiduongeden.com/). The family ordered typical breakfast of pho, banh canh, and a few appetizers.
After breakfast, we planned to spend a significant portion of the day touring George Washington's Mount Vernon home (https://www.mountvernon.org/). While at the restaurant, my brother called and said that he and his kids would be down in approximately 30 minutes. We waited a bit in the restaurant. When he got there, he ordered Vietnamese baguette stuffed with meat to eat in the car. We have a timed tour so we couldn't wait for them to eat. We planned our visit for 11:30 am. We arrived at the proximity of the historic location at approximately 11:00 am, and the number of cars looking for parking space was astronomical. It took me 30 minutes to finally find parking.
Over the next four hours, we enjoyed the sceneries, read about the significance of George Washington's life, watched some historical films, walked the house, viewed George Washington's tomb, listened to some music, and took pictures. Overall, I came out of that experience thinking that, "Damn, this man lived almost 300 years ago and he knew how to enjoy life."
To be continued.....