DC is a historical town with A LOT of museums and memorial sites
If you are not a fan of museums or memorial sites or monuments, I think I can safely say DC is not for you. Everywhere you go there is going to be a museum or some historical site. Even at the suburb where we stayed.
DO NOT go to DC during the summer
It was our first trip to DC and we totally did not expect it to be that hot. Yes even though I am from the tropics, the heat was a killer. It killed our appetite for food and drained all our energy.
Do your research and book the tours (in advance)
As we were only spending four days in DC, we did not do any intensive research nor did we travel out of DC. However we knew what we want to see. To me, being in DC means going to the White House. Initially I thought we can book the tour while we were in DC. WRONG. Thank god I decided to check and realise that for foreigners who would like to visit the White House, they will need to apply via their embassy in DC. I did this in advance – a couple of months to be exact. After exchanging emails with the embassy and filling in forms, we finally got the date.
Another tour I booked was the US Capitol tour. For that, it was much easier. You can apply the tour online – I did this two weeks in advance.
People in DC are very friendly
I was very impressed by the folks in DC. While going for the White House tour, they had screwed up by date of birth and I had to wait under the (hot) sun while they check with the embassy. The guard at the White House was really nice and explained to me on the long wait and so on. So don’t be afraid, feel free to ask anyone for help or direction.
Must go to all Smithsonian museums (if you can)
Unless you are staying in DC for a week, it is nearly impossible to cover all the Smithsonian museums. What’s so great about the museums? Firstly, they are FREE. Yes, FREE. And just because they are free, it does not mean they have crappy exhibits. The exhibits in the museums that I visited are inspiring, interesting and truly impressive.
People in DC like their food really salty and really sweet
The couple of places we went (not all were featured here), the food was extremely salty and the dessert was very sweet. My tongue is quite sensitive (I am one of those snobs who can taste the “tea bag” in a cup of tea) and my palate is rather bland. Hence I was not used to the extreme use of salt and sugar. That said, it does not mean DC lack of delicious food. I just needed to research more.
Watch National Treasure 1 and 2 before and after you go to DC
I only managed to do the latter. And I totally regretted not watching the movies before the trip. I am not a Nicholas Cage’s fan but both the movies were just pure “DC”. While watching the movie, I was like “oh I been there, and there”. I know it’s annoying but I just can’t help it!
Do not be afraid to tell the world “you’re a tourist” (just don’t wear the fanny-pack)
Throughout the DC trip, I really felt like a tourist. I have never been on so many tours – yet I was loving every moment of it. On our last day, it was raining, we decided to take the open top sightseeing bus. It was interesting and relaxing. When we were at Library of Congress, we gate-crashed a tour too. It was all good fun.
Stay with really nice people
We booked our accommodation via Air B&B. Kat and I were very lucky to have met Neil and Jessica (and their dog, Charlie). They were so thoughtful – they prepared towels, toiletries, and even Metro cards for us. Everything was so well organised.
They were so nice, they even got us breakfast! When we didn’t touch any of it, Jessica wrote us a note and told us they got food for us. Neil and Jessica rock!