Last weekend Ryan and I drove up to DC for a small get away and to celebrate my friend Carrie's bridal shower. I am a bridesmaid in her wedding next month and I really wanted to be able to come and celebrate with her before the big day. Considering a six hour drive alone and pregnant would not be that fun I convinced my husband we could do a weekend together in our old stomping ground and he could go to the gym in the hotel while I was girly at the shower. He agreed! We left on Friday afternoon, hit some typical Northern VA traffic we did NOT miss living away, and rolled in to Old Town Alexandria around 9pm. It was a gorgeous night, in the high 70s/low 80s and we knew the weather was going to drop with the next day, so we went out and walked down King Street as soon as we arrived.
Our hotel was at the top of King Street right near the metro, so we just walked around the corner and down the street where we spent so much time as newlyweds. As soon as I saw the lights in the trees I had tears in my eyes (yes, pregnancy hormones do that). I sincerely loved living in Alexandria and I really do miss it. Ryan indulged me for some pictures and we walked the entire length of the street, all the way to the waterfront and back.
Being pregnant meant no bar hopping for us, like we used to do back in the day, but it was still neat to see which of our favorite places were still there and some new ones too. There was one bar that was completely Medieval themed that looked pretty awesome! Ryan also indulged my pregnancy craving of going to BGR and getting some delicious garlic fries. And we split a burger too... because, why not? At the waterfront we were happy to see the old man who plays the water glasses was still there and there was also a lady singing opera. Definitely a great evening.
The next morning we helped ourselves to the all you can eat breakfast before I gathered my things to metro into DC and go to the shower. It was cold and rainy but it was supposed to clear up. Ryan nearly had a heart attack when he saw the gym was closed due to a leak, but when I made him ask at the front desk for other options they got him to the gym at their sister hotel across the street. See, I can be right too :P In the above picture is our hotel and old metro stop, and the building there on the left with the green awning on top is where I worked when we first got married.
It was so wonderful seeing Carrie again and finally getting to meet the other bridesmaids. We had a room at a Mexican restaurant called Oyamel and did a really delicious tasting of all sorts of tapas. They even made special pregnancy cocktails for me and the other pregnant bridesmaid that were so delicious!
Carrie was such a gracious bride and host and it was an honor to "shower" her! We were neighbors when Ryan and I lived in Alexandria and got very close when Ryan moved to 29 Palms for nine months and her boyfriend, now fiancé, moved to Boston for grad school. We bonded over the far away boys, America's Next Top Model, our dogs, and many other things and I am so glad our friendship has endured in the four years (has it been that long!?) since I moved to North Carolina.
After the shower I met my friend from college, Cat, who was one of my own bridesmaids when I got married! We walked down to the National Mall since the monuments and memorials are always one of my favorite places. The weather cleared up even though it was still windy and a little cool, but the sun was warm. Luckily for me it didn't rain as my rain jacket doesn't button anymore! It was extremely crowded because of the kite festival so we did have to fight our way through tourists a bit.
Ryan came and met up with us and we walked around for a bit while it was sunny. Sadly we just missed the peak of the Cherry Blossoms but there were still a few on the trees for Bean to get for his first visit!
Cat has always been a great friend and I love that we can go months without talking and then pick right up where we left off every time. She is super intelligent and hearing Ryan and her debate and go back and forth is supremely entertaining for me as they both hold their own really well and don't get offended by different opinions.
Cat went with us back to Brookland, the area of DC where we went to college at Catholic University. When I first started there ten years ago (oh my...) you couldn't walk up certain streets even in broad daylight. In the four years I spent there they really cleaned up the area and made it safer, but that was nothing compared to now! My "unsafe" freshman dorm was knocked down and they built up the entire area with artist shops and studios, cafes, town homes, bars, and all sorts of other artsy things. Our tiny bookstore we used to have to go in to the bottom of the cafeteria for is now a CUA Barnes and Nobel where I did buy Bean a small Catholic University onesie! We had dinner together at a really good restaurant and then walked around campus a bit. I haven't been there in years so it was nice to see some of the changes there too. Our theatre we spent so much time in got renovated and spruced up a bit and we also ran in to a good friend of mine who was on his way to watch students in a showcase rehearsal... strange that he was a grad student when I was there and now is a professor with the music school! Ah, adulthood. After having some coffee at Busboys and Poets we all went our separate ways and Ryan and I took the metro back to Alexandria.
Above is the Masonic Temple as viewed from our hotel room... we definitely had a great view! I took this Sunday morning before we left so it looks like a gorgeous day... but it was FREEZING. It was in the low 40s and the wind chill was awful! I was all bundled up in my CUA hoodie (as I don't fit in to any of my winter coats at present!) and the wind was brutal. We decided to go see our old apartment and walk around a little more but those plans didn't work too well...
Our first home :( Carrie warned me they were knocking them down to make way for, surprise, more luxury town homes and condos. The beautiful apartment that was our first home after we were married is gone. That building had so many memories. We made great friends with our neighbors, we used to sit outside on the stoop and smoke and drink together and have our own little parties in the parking lot. It is the apartment we bought Rylie girl home to for the first time. It had two years of memories and firsts, from our first anniversary to my first surgery to our first almost everything as a family. Now a newlywed couple would never be able to afford it unless they make double or triple what we made starting out. And it made me a little sad. We decided to just drive up to the park and walk along the river and nature trails for a bit before getting back in the car and heading back to North Carolina. It was the first time leaving DC I did not cry. It was nice to return to weather that was 20 degrees warmer and our house and our Dup Dup... but Alexandria will still always hold a special place in my heart.