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WASHINGTON DC DAY 5 The Freer and Sackler Gallery *****  open daily 10am-5:30pm. These two museums are connected with one another and together they constitute the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art. Their exhibits such as paintings, sculptures and ceramics are displayed in galleries organized by topic, which, amongst others, feature Japanese Art, Korean Art, Chinese Art, South Asian and Himalayan Art as well as the Arts of the Islamic World. This museum also has in its possession a very impressive collection of works by James McNeill Whistler and other American artists. Its most beautiful and probably most famous treasure is the Peacock Room, described as Harmony in Blue and Gold. It was originally designed by Whistler for a British businessman. The combination of the stunning colors, delicate Asian ceramics, golden peacocks adorning the walls and a painting of a beautiful young woman create a truly magnificent effect. If you admire the Asian culture, with all of its expressive wealth and captivating facets, this museum will certainly delight you. Please plan about 2-3 hrs for your visit here. National Air and Space Museum **** If you are a fan of air and space travel then you simply cannot miss this establishment! Here you can get familiar with the history of flight from its origins until this very day. Each gallery addresses a different topic, to mention just a few there is the Golden Age of Flight, Looking at Earth, Exploring the Moon, Pioneers of Flight, World War II Aviation. To the definite highlights of the museum belong: the Spirit of St. Louis, SpaceShipOne, Sputnik and Explorer or the 1903 Wright Flyer. Worth a try is the Albert Einstein Planetarium, where you are able watch several films about the mysteries of the Universe (a pass costs about $9) and if you don’t mind spending a little more, you can also visit the Imax Theater located on the premises. Young explorers especially will enjoy the interactive exhibits and flight simulators. Please plan about 3-4 hrs for your visit here. Even though this museum certainly offers a lot of fascinating insights into men’s eternal struggle and desire to conquer the skies, it does put a heavy emphasis on the space travel aspect of aviation. If you are more interested in the good old planes (especially military ones) of all shapes and ages, then nothing beats the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil). And in case you are also into fighter planes, you would have probably really enjoyed seeing the Thunderbirds (the official demonstration squadron of the US Air Force) in action, simply spectacular!  Unfortunately the whole 2013 show season was cancelled, but let’s hope that our Dems and Reps will soon learn how to nicely play together in the sandbox again, which might prevent all those budget cuts next year. DAY 6 United States Holocaust Museum Memorial Museum  ****** (www.ushmm.org): open daily 10am-5:30pm. If you want to pay this fascinating museum a visit, you should plan it well in advance. The passes for this exhibition are highly coveted and if you don’t book yours online (I would recommend at least 4 weeks prior), then you might end up very disappointed. They do give out some same-day passes in the morning, but the lines for those are huge and they are gone in no time. Even with a timed pass it can still take up to an hour to actually enter the collections. The only exception to this rule are Armed Forces (including retirees), Law Enforcement Personnel, and Federal Government Employees, who receive complimentary passes for themselves and their families and do not have to stand in line for the general admission. So if you know somebody in any of those fields I would recommend to go that route, it certainly makes the whole experience a lot easier. After you are handed an identification card of a real person living during the Holocaust (which tells you a brief history of the individual and at the end you can discover if this person survived or not), you are taken to the 4th floor (where the exhibition begins) in an elevator. It’s extremely crowded and feels very claustrophobic:  you and your fellow visitors are literally squashed in there shoulder to shoulder. This recreates the horror that the Jews transported to the concentration camps in cattle cars had to go through. Some of them spent as long as a week in such conditions with no food or water. Many of them died on the way. The museum presents the history of the Holocaust, concentrating on the timeframe between 1933-1945. It features three main exhibition areas: - The Nazi Assault (1933-39) - The Final Solution (1940-45) - The Last Chapter It portrays the events which transpired during those years with the help of visual aids such as photographs, film footage, documents and written descriptions concerning each element on display. It also utilizes small every-day objects (shoes, cutlery) or symbols of the Nazi oppression like the exact copy of the infamous Auschwitz gate with the inscription ARBEIT MACHT FREI (work will set you free). Incidentally, the original is located in Poland, where the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp has been turned into a museum of the victims of the Holocaust (http://en.auschwitz.org/m/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=85 ). Many of the exhibits displayed in Washington come from the Polish museum, either as a donation or on loan. Thoroughly and systematically, like the ever-efficient Nazi Regime, this exhibition takes you through one of the biggest atrocities and instances of genocide ever experienced by the human race. Some of the materials presented here can be very disturbing (due to its high violence and nudity content: the Jews were forced to strip completely before they were executed). That’s why it is not recommended to expose children under 12 years old to these displays. I have been interested in the Holocaust for many years now and have done a lot of research in this area for my University Studies, as well as in a private capacity. Little can surprise me. But even I was still shaken by some of the film footage showing the victims being brutalized in the most appalling way. And you know that this is not a Hollywood movie. This is REAL. The people shown there really died. What you witness are their last moments on Earth. As simple as that, nothing else to add... For an extensive tour of the United States Holocaust Museum Memorial Museum please plan at least 4 hrs. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We planned to visit the National Museum of American History in the afternoon, but because we spent so many hours in the Holocaust Museum we run out of time. But if you are more efficient, you can certainly add that to your itinerary. I heard they have some interesting objects there, such as the gowns of the First Ladies or the original Star- Spangled Banner. WHERE TO EAT Just like everything else in D.C., restaurants are not cheap. Whatever you save on museum passes you will surely spend on food and accommodation. A small bottle of water costs anywhere between $2.50-$3. Even the most sorry looking sandwich or salad from a food stand or a cafeteria will run you around 8-15 dollars. With that being said, the restaurants in Washington (at least down-town) are always very busy, particularly on weekends. So if you don’t have a reservation, you might end up eating your dinner at the local bistro or a fast food place. Or fasting, if you’re picky. It actually happened to us, twice (bistro, not fasting, we are not that particular :-). But the beauty of this fabulous city consists in the fact that even if you are stuck dining on fast-food, you can still find some healthy and delicious options. So this is where we turned to nourish are museum-battered and exhausted bodies: Merzi ***** http://merzi.com/ After walking around for awhile not being able to get a table at a proper restaurant (as we wanted to be spontaneous, we did not think to book in advance), Merzi finally caught our eye. It looked nice and smelled heavenly, so we decided to go inside. This little inexpensive, cozy bistro offers Indian-inspired cuisine and their food is simply delicious! You can design your own dish so to say, choosing your base (like rice, salad or bread), protein (meat or vegetarian) and sauce or chutney. You can also get extras such as samosas. This concept presents you with numerous options and you definitely have a chance to live out you creativity by trying all the different combinations. And not only is the food incredibly tasty, but healthy and relatively low-calorie to boot. I would go there again any time and regret bitterly that they don’t have it in my hometown of Las Vegas. So Merzi owners, I implore you, please bring your wonderful idea to the Sin City! Cost per person: around $10 Roti Mediterranean Grill ***** http://roti.com/ After a very long day of sight-seeing we were so exhausted that we just opted for something quick and easy for dinner. Roti is situated right underneath the hotel we stayed at, so nothing could be more convenient. They offer a nice variety of Mediterranean fare, including sandwiches, rice plates and salads. I had the Mediterranean Chopped Chicken Salad and it was so good I just couldn’t stop eating it, even if I meant to only have half (the portions are fairly large). You have a certain degree o freedom in creating your dish, as they do provide the customers with quite a few toppings and sauces to choose from. The service is fairly quick and very friendly. Great value for money, I would love to go back there again! Cost per person: around $10 Castle Café, Museum of Natural History Atrium Café  ** Capitol Cafeteria **** http://www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/restaurant-menu There really is no point to review these museum cafes separately, because they are all very similar. Perhaps with the exception of the Capitol Cafeteria, which features a buffet-style spread of dishes from all around the world (hot and cold) and a lovely salad station. The food there did surprise as with its high quality and tasted great! The rest of them pretty much sell the same stuff: sandwiches, salads, pastries and desserts. None of them too fancy or particularly delectable, more on the bland and uninspired side. As well as rather expensive if you consider what you are getting for your money: $10-$15 for a simple sandwich or lettuce with some chicken sprinkled on top of it. But the truth is that those eateries don’t really have to try that hard and they are still always crowded. Because if you are touring the museums eating lunch there simply is the quickest and easiest option. The only alternative are food stands in the streets, but don’t expect to score any better there! Cost per person: around $15 (including bottled water) Oyamel Cocina Mexicana ** http://www.oyamel.com/ One of the eateries belonging to the restaurant imperium created by Jose Andres, Oyamel turned out to be a big disappointment. A great pity, especially due to the fact that we were truly looking forward to dining there… The place was so incredibly loud that even though we sat at a tiny table we still had to yell at the top of our voices in an attempt to communicate. I left its premises with a splitting headache and half deaf. The waiting staff was completely overwhelmed and stressed-out, so needless to say the service could not be described as particularly great. We waited for the food for ever. When it finally arrived, the bad impression just deepened. This restaurant offers small, tapas-style dishes inspired by Mexican cuisine. We ordered 7 different plates to try and let’s just say that none of them amazed us with an explosion of flavor. In fact, if they were not bland, they tasted strange, and not in a good way. The sautéed shrimp were literally swimming in grease, the tuna was so sour I could barely swallow it (was supposed to be in a lime marinade, but seemed more like vinegar to me). And so on, I think by now you get my picture. In my opinion this establishment is very overrated and does not provide the patron with an exceptional experience in any of the categories you would normally cherish in a restaurant, such as: atmosphere, service and, of course, food. I would not go there again. Cost per person: $50-$60 (including a glass of wine) Foggy Brew Pub *** http://www.lenfantplazahotel.com/downtown-dc-bars.php Located in the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, this pub also offers a good choice of lunch and dinner dishes. Their menu includes appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads, pizza and a few entrees. To start with the positive aspects: the food there really is quite good and the portions rather large. I had the prawn Cocktail and the Caesar Salad with grilled chicken breast. The prawns were gigantic and delicious; the salad was topped with a very flavorful dressing and contained a lot of chicken. The negative sides: this place does not have much of an atmosphere, which is a shame! If they dimmed the very, very bright lights and put on some nice music instead of the blaring TV, then it could actually become quite a cozy spot. Also their wine selection was horrible, I tried the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (in the hope of finding something drinkable for my daily nightcap), but alas to no avail. Even their cocktails hardly contained any alcohol at all and after drinking 3 of those, much to my disappointment, I was still stone-cold sober like a judge! I know I mixed those two idioms, but I could not emphasize my complete lack of intoxication enough! So basically you can choose between nasty wine and alcohol-free cocktails. All in all I would say that if you are staying in this hotel and you are too tired to go anywhere else, it’s not a bad place, but I would certainly not recommend going there extra just for the fabulous dining experience. Because fabulous it isn’t . Cost per person: $40-$50 (including a glass of wine) Matchbox ***** http://matchboxchinatown.com/ Situated right in the heart of Washington’s Chinatown, Matchbox proved to be a delightful restaurant to visit.  It carries a wide selection of varied and original dishes, such as wonderful seafood, some meat entrees, interesting salads, sandwiches and pizza. I ordered the cream of crab soup and the Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad. The soup was probably one of the best of this kind I ever sampled, a real explosion of flavor and the salad also completely satisfied my expectations, delicate tuna and a delicious dressing contributing to the overall effect. Even though this restaurant is located on 3 different levels, it can get very busy. But you are able to enjoy your wait for a table at the full bar, where they also serve some intriguing- looking cocktails. We drank their Pinot Noir and it tasted wonderful. The only complaint I have is that considering that this is a fairly large place, they should definitely add some more restrooms to the premises. There is only a single one for the ladies, as well as one for the gents. So you are looking at standing in quite a line when the restaurant gets busy. I don’t think this was great planning, especially because the lavatories are so spacious you could easily make two out of a single one. I would definitely go to this restaurant again and would highly recommend it. Cost per person: $40-$50 (including a glass of wine) La Tasca ***** http://www.latascausa.com/ This Spanish Tapas Bar and restaurant is also located in Chinatown and from the moment you enter, it takes you on the cultural journey around the enchanting country of Spain. It features two levels, if you have a choice try to sit downstairs, it’s a lot cozier. The eatery is decorated with the help of the bright, vivid colors one associates with sun and fun; it emanates the relaxed, easy-going atmosphere of the Spanish coast. We really liked the art displayed on the walls, also mostly portraying Spanish motifs. And if you are a fan of Sangria, you will enjoy yourself even more, because La Tasca carries all different kinds of delightfully sounding Sangria concoctions. We decided to sample their Signature Tasting Menu, which costs $75 (meant to serve two persons) and consists of 9 different dishes such as grilled lamb chops with garlic mashed potatoes and a thyme sauce, pan-seared scallops served over a Maryland blue crab casserole, butterflied shrimp and avocado served over greens with an avocado vinaigrette or slices of grilled strip loin served with a sherry mushroom sauce to mention just a few.  This proved to be an excellent choice indeed, all the little plates brought to us were simply mouth- wateringly delicious! We savored every bite and after eating all of them, even though they were relatively small, we felt very, very satisfied (or very close to exploding to use a slightly less sophisticated tone :-)). We found the service very friendly and accommodating. Even though the place was jammed full, our waiter still took the time to have a little chat with us, he treated us in an amicable and welcoming fashion. After my first glass of wine he suggested another kind, which was actually better and less expensive. He also brought us a free drink after we already paid, so he did not have to bring us another bill. Overall a great experience, we were impressed with the dishes, ambience and service. La Tasca is a rather popular spot, so it can get very busy: in fact we got the last table on the day we visited. Accordingly the waiting time for your food might stretch out a bit, but you can just kick back and relax with a drink. I would heartily recommend this restaurant and would be delighted to return there as soon as an opportunity arises. Cost per person: around $50 (including a glass of wine) CONCLUSION Washington D.C. is an amazing city! Fun, welcoming and culturally stimulating. I can’t imagine anybody being bored there even for a minute: this place really defines the word “choice” in a completely new light. Anything you want to do, you certainly can take your pick. I can’t wait to go there again!
    RATING     ****** excellent     ***** very good     ****good     *** average     ** pretty bad     * horrible

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WASHINGTON DC DAY 5 The Freer and Sackler Gallery *****  open daily 10am-5:30pm. These two museums are connected with one another and together they constitute the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art. Their exhibits such as paintings, sculptures and ceramics are displayed in galleries organized by topic, which, amongst others, feature Japanese Art, Korean Art, Chinese Art, South Asian and Himalayan Art as well as the Arts of the Islamic World. This museum also has in its possession a very impressive collection of works by James McNeill Whistler and other American artists. Its most beautiful and probably most famous treasure is the Peacock Room, described as Harmony in Blue and Gold. It was originally designed by Whistler for a British businessman. The combination of the stunning colors, delicate Asian ceramics, golden peacocks adorning the walls and a painting of a beautiful young woman create a truly magnificent effect. If you admire the Asian culture, with all of its expressive wealth and captivating facets, this museum will certainly delight you. Please plan about 2-3 hrs for your visit here. National Air and Space Museum **** If you are a fan of air and space travel then you simply cannot miss this establishment! Here you can get familiar with the history of flight from its origins until this very day. Each gallery addresses a different topic, to mention just a few there is the Golden Age of Flight, Looking at Earth, Exploring the Moon, Pioneers of Flight, World War II Aviation. To the definite highlights of the museum belong: the Spirit of St. Louis, SpaceShipOne, Sputnik and Explorer or the 1903 Wright Flyer. Worth a try is the Albert Einstein Planetarium, where you are able watch several films about the mysteries of the Universe (a pass costs about $9) and if you don’t mind spending a little more, you can also visit the Imax Theater located on the premises. Young explorers especially will enjoy the interactive exhibits and flight simulators. Please plan about 3-4 hrs for your visit here. Even though this museum certainly offers a lot of fascinating insights into men’s eternal struggle and desire to conquer the skies, it does put a heavy emphasis on the space travel aspect of aviation. If you are more interested in the good old planes (especially military ones) of all shapes and ages, then nothing beats the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil). And in case you are also into fighter planes, you would have probably really enjoyed seeing the Thunderbirds (the official demonstration squadron of the US Air Force) in action, simply spectacular!  Unfortunately the whole 2013 show season was cancelled, but let’s hope that our Dems and Reps will soon learn how to nicely play together in the sandbox again, which might prevent all those budget cuts next year. DAY 6 United States Holocaust Museum Memorial Museum  ****** (www.ushmm.org): open daily 10am-5:30pm. If you want to pay this fascinating museum a visit, you should plan it well in advance. The passes for this exhibition are highly coveted and if you don’t book yours online (I would recommend at least 4 weeks prior), then you might end up very disappointed. They do give out some same-day passes in the morning, but the lines for those are huge and they are gone in no time. Even with a timed pass it can still take up to an hour to actually enter the collections. The only exception to this rule are Armed Forces (including retirees), Law Enforcement Personnel, and Federal Government Employees, who receive complimentary passes for themselves and their families and do not have to stand in line for the general admission. So if you know somebody in any of those fields I would recommend to go that route, it certainly makes the whole experience a lot easier. After you are handed an identification card of a real person living during the Holocaust (which tells you a brief history of the individual and at the end you can discover if this person survived or not), you are taken to the 4th floor (where the exhibition begins) in an elevator. It’s extremely crowded and feels very claustrophobic:  you and your fellow visitors are literally squashed in there shoulder to shoulder. This recreates the horror that the Jews transported to the concentration camps in cattle cars had to go through. Some of them spent as long as a week in such conditions with no food or water. Many of them died on the way. The museum presents the history of the Holocaust, concentrating on the timeframe between 1933-1945. It features three main exhibition areas: - The Nazi Assault (1933-39) - The Final Solution (1940-45) - The Last Chapter It portrays the events which transpired during those years with the help of visual aids such as photographs, film footage, documents and written descriptions concerning each element on display. It also utilizes small every-day objects (shoes, cutlery) or symbols of the Nazi oppression like the exact copy of the infamous Auschwitz gate with the inscription ARBEIT MACHT FREI (work will set you free). Incidentally, the original is located in Poland, where the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp has been turned into a museum of the victims of the Holocaust (http://en.auschwitz.org/m/index.php?opt ion=com_wrapper&Itemid=85 ). Many of the exhibits displayed in Washington come from the Polish museum, either as a donation or on loan. Thoroughly and systematically, like the ever-efficient Nazi Regime, this exhibition takes you through one of the biggest atrocities and instances of genocide ever experienced by the human race. Some of the materials presented here can be very disturbing (due to its high violence and nudity content: the Jews were forced to strip completely before they were executed). That’s why it is not recommended to expose children under 12 years old to these displays. I have been interested in the Holocaust for many years now and have done a lot of research in this area for my University Studies, as well as in a private capacity. Little can surprise me. But even I was still shaken by some of the film footage showing the victims being brutalized in the most appalling way. And you know that this is not a Hollywood movie. This is REAL. The people shown there really died. What you witness are their last moments on Earth. As simple as that, nothing else to add... For an extensive tour of the United States Holocaust Museum Memorial Museum please plan at least 4 hrs. We planned to visit the National Museum of American History in the afternoon, but because we spent so many hours in the Holocaust Museum we run out of time. But if you are more efficient, you can certainly add that to your itinerary. I heard they have some interesting objects there, such as the gowns of the First Ladies or the original Star- Spangled Banner. WHERE TO EAT Just like everything else in D.C., restaurants are not cheap. Whatever you save on museum passes you will surely spend on food and accommodation. A small bottle of water costs anywhere between $2.50-$3. Even the most sorry looking sandwich or salad from a food stand or a cafeteria will run you around 8-15 dollars. With that being said, the restaurants in Washington (at least down-town) are always very busy, particularly on weekends. So if you don’t have a reservation, you might end up eating your dinner at the local bistro or a fast food place. Or fasting, if you’re picky. It actually happened to us, twice (bistro, not fasting, we are not that particular :-). But the beauty of this fabulous city consists in the fact that even if you are stuck dining on fast-food, you can still find some healthy and delicious options. So this is where we turned to nourish are museum-battered and exhausted bodies: Merzi ***** http://merzi.com/ After walking around for awhile not being able to get a table at a proper restaurant (as we wanted to be spontaneous, we did not think to book in advance), Merzi finally caught our eye. It looked nice and smelled heavenly, so we decided to go inside. This little inexpensive, cozy bistro offers Indian-inspired cuisine and their food is simply delicious! You can design your own dish so to say, choosing your base (like rice, salad or bread), protein (meat or vegetarian) and sauce or chutney. You can also get extras such as samosas. This concept presents you with numerous options and you definitely have a chance to live out you creativity by trying all the different combinations. And not only is the food incredibly tasty, but healthy and relatively low- calorie to boot. I would go there again any time and regret bitterly that they don’t have it in my hometown of Las Vegas. So Merzi owners, I implore you, please bring your wonderful idea to the Sin City! Cost per person: around $10 Roti Mediterranean Grill ***** http://roti.com/ After a very long day of sight-seeing we were so exhausted that we just opted for something quick and easy for dinner. Roti is situated right underneath the hotel we stayed at, so nothing could be more convenient. They offer a nice variety of Mediterranean fare, including sandwiches, rice plates and salads. I had the Mediterranean Chopped Chicken Salad and it was so good I just couldn’t stop eating it, even if I meant to only have half (the portions are fairly large). You have a certain degree o freedom in creating your dish, as they do provide the customers with quite a few toppings and sauces to choose from. The service is fairly quick and very friendly. Great value for money, I would love to go back there again! Cost per person: around $10 Castle Café, Museum of Natural History Atrium Café  ** Capitol Cafeteria **** http://www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan- visit/restaurant-menu There really is no point to review these museum cafes separately, because they are all very similar. Perhaps with the exception of the Capitol Cafeteria, which features a buffet-style spread of dishes from all around the world (hot and cold) and a lovely salad station. The food there did surprise as with its high quality and tasted great! The rest of them pretty much sell the same stuff: sandwiches, salads, pastries and desserts. None of them too fancy or particularly delectable, more on the bland and uninspired side. As well as rather expensive if you consider what you are getting for your money: $10-$15 for a simple sandwich or lettuce with some chicken sprinkled on top of it. But the truth is that those eateries don’t really have to try that hard and they are still always crowded. Because if you are touring the museums eating lunch there simply is the quickest and easiest option. The only alternative are food stands in the streets, but don’t expect to score any better there! Cost per person: around $15 (including bottled water) Oyamel Cocina Mexicana ** http://www.oyamel.com/ One of the eateries belonging to the restaurant imperium created by Jose Andres, Oyamel turned out to be a big disappointment. A great pity, especially due to the fact that we were truly looking forward to dining there… The place was so incredibly loud that even though we sat at a tiny table we still had to yell at the top of our voices in an attempt to communicate. I left its premises with a splitting headache and half deaf. The waiting staff was completely overwhelmed and stressed-out, so needless to say the service could not be described as particularly great. We waited for the food for ever. When it finally arrived, the bad impression just deepened. This restaurant offers small, tapas-style dishes inspired by Mexican cuisine. We ordered 7 different plates to try and let’s just say that none of them amazed us with an explosion of flavor. In fact, if they were not bland, they tasted strange, and not in a good way. The sautéed shrimp were literally swimming in grease, the tuna was so sour I could barely swallow it (was supposed to be in a lime marinade, but seemed more like vinegar to me). And so on, I think by now you get my picture. In my opinion this establishment is very overrated and does not provide the patron with an exceptional experience in any of the categories you would normally cherish in a restaurant, such as: atmosphere, service and, of course, food. I would not go there again. Cost per person: $50-$60 (including a glass of wine) Foggy Brew Pub *** http://www.lenfantplazahotel.com/downto wn-dc-bars.php Located in the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, this pub also offers a good choice of lunch and dinner dishes. Their menu includes appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads, pizza and a few entrees. To start with the positive aspects: the food there really is quite good and the portions rather large. I had the prawn Cocktail and the Caesar Salad with grilled chicken breast. The prawns were gigantic and delicious; the salad was topped with a very flavorful dressing and contained a lot of chicken. The negative sides: this place does not have much of an atmosphere, which is a shame! If they dimmed the very, very bright lights and put on some nice music instead of the blaring TV, then it could actually become quite a cozy spot. Also their wine selection was horrible, I tried the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (in the hope of finding something drinkable for my daily nightcap), but alas to no avail. Even their cocktails hardly contained any alcohol at all and after drinking 3 of those, much to my disappointment, I was still stone-cold sober like a judge! I know I mixed those two idioms, but I could not emphasize my complete lack of intoxication enough! So basically you can choose between nasty wine and alcohol-free cocktails. All in all I would say that if you are staying in this hotel and you are too tired to go anywhere else, it’s not a bad place, but I would certainly not recommend going there extra just for the fabulous dining experience. Because fabulous it isn’t . Cost per person: $40-$50 (including a glass of wine) Matchbox ***** http://matchboxchinatown.com/ Situated right in the heart of Washington’s Chinatown, Matchbox proved to be a delightful restaurant to visit.  It carries a wide selection of varied and original dishes, such as wonderful seafood, some meat entrees, interesting salads, sandwiches and pizza. I ordered the cream of crab soup and the Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad. The soup was probably one of the best of this kind I ever sampled, a real explosion of flavor and the salad also completely satisfied my expectations, delicate tuna and a delicious dressing contributing to the overall effect. Even though this restaurant is located on 3 different levels, it can get very busy. But you are able to enjoy your wait for a table at the full bar, where they also serve some intriguing-looking cocktails. We drank their Pinot Noir and it tasted wonderful. The only complaint I have is that considering that this is a fairly large place, they should definitely add some more restrooms to the premises. There is only a single one for the ladies, as well as one for the gents. So you are looking at standing in quite a line when the restaurant gets busy. I don’t think this was great planning, especially because the lavatories are so spacious you could easily make two out of a single one. I would definitely go to this restaurant again and would highly recommend it. Cost per person: $40-$50 (including a glass of wine) La Tasca ***** http://www.latascausa.com/ This Spanish Tapas Bar and restaurant is also located in Chinatown and from the moment you enter, it takes you on the cultural journey around the enchanting country of Spain. It features two levels, if you have a choice try to sit downstairs, it’s a lot cozier. The eatery is decorated with the help of the bright, vivid colors one associates with sun and fun; it emanates the relaxed, easy-going atmosphere of the Spanish coast. We really liked the art displayed on the walls, also mostly portraying Spanish motifs. And if you are a fan of Sangria, you will enjoy yourself even more, because La Tasca carries all different kinds of delightfully sounding Sangria concoctions. We decided to sample their Signature Tasting Menu, which costs $75 (meant to serve two persons) and consists of 9 different dishes such as grilled lamb chops with garlic mashed potatoes and a thyme sauce, pan-seared scallops served over a Maryland blue crab casserole, butterflied shrimp and avocado served over greens with an avocado vinaigrette or slices of grilled strip loin served with a sherry mushroom sauce to mention just a few.  This proved to be an excellent choice indeed, all the little plates brought to us were simply mouth- wateringly delicious! We savored every bite and after eating all of them, even though they were relatively small, we felt very, very satisfied (or very close to exploding to use a slightly less sophisticated tone :-)). We found the service very friendly and accommodating. Even though the place was jammed full, our waiter still took the time to have a little chat with us, he treated us in an amicable and welcoming fashion. After my first glass of wine he suggested another kind, which was actually better and less expensive. He also brought us a free drink after we already paid, so he did not have to bring us another bill. Overall a great experience, we were impressed with the dishes, ambience and service. La Tasca is a rather popular spot, so it can get very busy: in fact we got the last table on the day we visited. Accordingly the waiting time for your food might stretch out a bit, but you can just kick back and relax with a drink. I would heartily recommend this restaurant and would be delighted to return there as soon as an opportunity arises. Cost per person: around $50 (including a glass of wine) CONCLUSION Washington D.C. is an amazing city! Fun, welcoming and culturally stimulating. I can’t imagine anybody being bored there even for a minute: this place really defines the word “choice” in a completely new light. Anything you want to do, you certainly can take your pick. I can’t wait to go there again!
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