Finally…A FitBloggin’13 Recap Part 3: Touristy Stuff

My first two FitBloggin recaps were all about the event, so my last recap is more about the fun, touristy stuff Ian and I did while in Portland. Neither of us had ever been so we were looking forward to the trip. I really enjoyed the city although we unfortunately brought the D.C. heat and humidity with us as the temps never dropped below 95 while we were there, so that made walking around the city a bit uncomfortable. My runs around the city as I mentioned were all beautiful – the numerous bridges were very cool.

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The only thing that surprised me negatively about the city was the sheer amount of panhandlers and how young so many of them looked. Ian took a short, 8-block walk while I was at a session and was asked for a dollar by 25 people. It felt worse than walking around New York City even in the touristy sections. It really caught me off guard.

Back to the positives… I loved the restaurants. One of my favorites was a haunted pizza place we went to twice called Old Town Pizzeria and Brewery. We enjoyed some great pizza and beers. Check out the full recap over on Ian’s blog.OldTownPizza_Portland

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We also hit up a semi-permanent food truck village where I enjoyed a pretty amazing grilled cheese sandwich and a coke! There was so much variety though, you could choose any kind of food you wanted.

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Yet another great spot we went to was a bit more upscale – an Italian restaurant called Mama Mia. I ordered gnocci and left there so full I could barely walk home. It was that kind of food that’s so delicious you just can’t stop eating even though your stomach is ready to burst.

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I also loved Brunch Box – another spot we hit up twice – yea we ate a lot! It was a relatively new restaurant that got its start as a food truck. One of the dishes they’re quickly becoming famous for is a burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches as the bun. With all the other food I’d eaten that weekend I couldn’t quite bring myself to try that, but I had a great bagel sandwich for breakfast on our first trip and an amazing buffalo chicken sandwich the next day for lunch!

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As I keep writing this I’m starting to realize just how much I ate while I was there!! Good thing I was doing three workouts a day! To keep the food theme rolling, everyone said we had to stop at VooDoo Doughnuts while we were there. Apparently everyone else heard the same thing as we trekked over there four times before finally catching it with a short enough line to be worth waiting in the close to 100-degree heat for. They have some awesome doughnuts to choose from and I went with the “Old Dirty Bastard” – yeast doughnut, chocolate frosting, Oreos and peanut butter…so worth all the effort!

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Just in case you’re wondering we did a few other things than just eat while we were there! We tried to go to the Oregon History Museum, but it was a bit pricey and only open for another 45 minutes, so we sat in the lobby for a bit pretending to decide whether or not to buy a ticket while we soaked in the AC before venturing back into the heat wave. We also wandered around the Nike store next door to our hotel and took advantage of Portland’s lack of sales tax! We walked around the famous Powell’s bookstore – the largest used and new bookstore in the world. It was a nice bookstore, but again we were really just more thankful for some AC and a break from the heat.

It was a great few days and I’d be happy to visit Portland again some day!

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Out and About D.C. Style

One of my favorite things about living in the Washington, D.C. area is that it never gets old to play tourist. Whenever someone comes to visit, it’s a great excuse to get out and explore. My parents were coming down for a visit recently and since they’ve been here many times, we wanted to come up with something we hadn’t done yet.

Amazingly in all the years they’ve been coming down, we’d never gone to the National Archives. I haven’t been in years either, so we decided to make an afternoon of it. The highlight of the Archives of course is that it houses the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Seeing these documents in person as opposed to them just being some abstract thing you learn about in history class is unbelievably cool. Yes, I’m a total nerd!

Our main reason for visiting the Archives on this trip, however, was to see a new temporary exhibit called To The Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The exhibit looks back at the crisis and features real-time White House recordings from Kennedy’s meetings in October of 1962. Also at the exhibit are chairs used by President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev during the June 1961 Vienna Summit. It has personality studies of Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, satellite photos of missile sites under construction in Cuba,  a map of Cuba used and annotated by President Kennedy,  secret correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev and a synopsis of a speech that never had to be delivered that President Kennedy drafted if he had to announce an attack to “destroy the nuclear build-up in Cuba.”

The exhibit was great – full of information and cool pieces of history. I could’ve spent hours more there listening to all of the recordings from Kennedy’s meetings and hope to get back before the exhibit closes. If you’re planning on being in D.C. between now and February, this is a can’t miss museum.

Whirlwind Weekend: 24 Hours in Chicago

A few weeks ago I flew off to Chicago for my friend Leah’s bachelorette party. I’ve gotten to go to Chicago a couple times in the past few years and think it’s a great city! Last year my boyfriend and I caught the highlights via a hop-on-hop-off bus tour our hotel concierge gave us free tickets for. Yes, I love doing dorky tourist things like that. I’ve even taken a segway tour in my own city. Nerd alert.

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This trip would be a quick one. I had to miss out on the Friday evening festivities as I flew out Saturday morning and got in around 11. You know it’s a quick trip when you already have a reminder email to check-in for your return flight upon landing. Less than 24 hours later I was heading back to airport to fly back to DC, but managed to squeeze in a great time before heading back east.

Leah currently lives in London, but is a former DC-resident. Along with another friend from here, it was great to reunite with Leah and one other former-DC friend. One thing you have to get used to living in this area is a lot of people moving away, but the positive side of that is I now have friends I can visit all over the place! It was also great to meet Leah’s high school and college friends who were all a lot of fun.

We stayed at Hotel 71, an awesome hotel right downtown with a great view of the city. Dinner was at Rockit Bar and Grill’s River-North location, and I ordered some of the best mac ‘n cheese I’ve ever eaten. It was a buffalo chicken mac ‘n cheese – combining two of my favorite meals. After ordering, the waitress said I wouldn’t be disappointed and it was one of the best things on their menu – she was right. Creamy and delicious, it had just the right amount of buffalo flavor to it as well. I’m sure I never want to know the calorie count for this dish, but let’s just say it’s a good thing I’d run 19 miles the night before eating this! The fun continued as a party bus drove us all around Chicago with several stops including a bar in Wrigleyville and outside of the Chicago Science Museum to take some pictures with the water and skyline in the background.

Chicago – view from Hotel 71

It was a great trip and I hope to get back to Chicago again soon. A couple things I’d still like to do there are a Cubs game and one of the architectural boat tours. I also hear they have some big race every year that I might be interested in doing some day!