That time I went to Washington D.C. and Baltimore

IMG_2590OK, so I’ve finally got round to writing that post about my little jaunt to the states last month. I say that like it’s been an age ago, I only got back last week. Good one, Hannah.

For those of you following my vlogs and Instagram account, none of this post will be a surprise. I had fun, I bought things and it was absolutely FUCKING FREEZING. Like zero degrees during the day freezing, so that was cute.

I was invited on the five day trip by my PR friend Dani, the same Dani who took me to New York earlier this year (it went a little something like this) with the aim of doing lots of pre-Christmas shopping at the various SIMON shopping destinations dotted about the Virginia/Maryland/District of Columbia area.

Firstly, I had no idea Washington D.C. wasn’t in like, a proper state. It’s tiny, it’s in its own thing known as the District of Columbia (hence the D.C., duh) which is about 6 square miles – and every time you basically drive anywhere or use anything you’re actually entering Virginia. So that’s a fun fact for you. WHICH MEANS I GOT TO GO TO MORE STATES THAN I REALISED.

Anyway, I had to set my alarm for 4.45am to get a taxi, train, two tubes and another train to Heathrow Terminal 5 for the flight, where I met the gang for bacon rolls (ate four, no shame), Diet Coke and excitement.

Boarded BA plane, drank vodka and orange juice, watched The Fault In Our Stars, cried all over myself, drank more vodka.

The thing with waking up at the crack of dawn for a flight to the States is that you end up staying awake about 24 hours, which is kind of the most hideous thing known to man. Despite the fact our flight departed at 11.30am and took eight hours, the time difference meant we landed at only half 2. Spend some time trying to get through immigration and being interrogated like you’re literally carrying a wagon of drugs with you (I wasn’t), and journeying to your hotel (The George in Washington, just FYI) and it’s basically dinner time. And then you’re knocking back cocktails and eating steak and not even knowing what’s coming out of your mouth because OH MY GOD IT’S 2AM AT HOME RIGHT NOW AND WHO AM I AND WHERE AM I AND ALL THE TIREDNESS.

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Naturally, I woke up at about 5.30am East Coast time the next day and took myself off for a lovely ‘Fall’ walk with a creme brulee latte to admire the city. It’s very flat in comparison to NYC – nothing is higher than about 12 stories, and there’s lots of grassy spots, it’s also much quieter. Whilst waiting in the queue in Starbucks for my festive beverage I was utterly alarmed by how many Brits were in there. It was about 30 per cent Brits, 70 per cent Americans, and I was like OH GOOD, i’m basically just at home.

We spent the entire first day just taking in the city, mostly via the open top deck of a tour bus. I came close to losing my limbs to frost bite. This is true. Not over-exaggerating. When I finally stepped off the bus (to explore dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum) I basically had to hobble about because my legs refused to work. Which was weird and confusing for everyone involved. We got to see a heck of a lot of monuments and we also got to see the Pentagon (which, just FYI is way closer to the city centre than it looks on TV) – but not the side that was hit by the hijacked plane, sadly. Although the tour guide did let us know that the video was on YouTube, so that was something worthy of the hotel’s WIFI whilst I was getting ready for dinner.

We headed to The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City – I bought a lot of pants from Victoria’s Secret, a pair of pyjama bottoms with unicorns on from Forever 21, ate mac and cheese and starred lovingly at everything in C.Wonder – a newish brand from Tory Burch’s husband. It’s cheaper and AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL AND LOOK, LOOK, LOOK HERE.

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Now, Baltimore feels real. Whereas Washington D.C. felt a bit like a very well maintained toy town, Baltimore felt exactly how I’d imagine New York to feel if it wasn’t crammed with tourists and people eager to find themselves. We stayed two nights in Washington and two nights in Baltimore – the latter in the Monaco hotel, which is part of Kimpton hotels, the same as The George. They’re a pretty reasonably priced four star company and most importantly they have speedy WIFI and free wine hour between 5 and 6pm. And how many hotels have you ever stayed at that just give away wine? Huh? Huh? Exactly.

Fun sights in Baltimore include the Aquarium (three-legged sea turtle name Calypso included), Fell’s Point (which is located on the harbour with cobbled streets and cute bars, and has INCREDIBLE ghost and history tours) and basically just swanning about getting coffee and going to drugstore’s to buy things like sleeping tablets, grape soda and sweets.

There’s also Arundel Mills just outside of the city which has a tonnes of discount shops (had to physically peel myself away from £40 trainers in the Nike shop, but you know how it is, ahhh trainers, so pretty, so colour, so Nike), a massive Vegas-style casino, lots of places selling pretzels and a Cheesecake Factory, because everywhere needs a Cheesecake factory. Had lemon and raspberry cheesecake, just for your records.

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Our flight home last Sunday wasn’t until the evening, so we went for a dreamy brunch in the Virginia countryside (had french toast, syrup, bacon and eggs because gurl gotta get extra curvy for her return to the UK) and then a final shopping trip at Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets (literally the most amazing Kate Spade discounts known to man), where I indulged in another shirt, because whose gonna say no to a striped GAP number for £15, eh? And an absolute hoard of Christmas candles from Yankee Candle. Was all a bit awkward though because Santander thought I was a card thief (whoever commits card fraud by spending $10 on candles is a weasel) and blocked my credit card, so I had to withdraw more cash and that.

My trip was rounded off in the dreamiest way. At Washington Dulles airport, BA have just built a new lounge for first class, business class etc and it only caters to two flights a day. We sat up at a beautiful bar whilst the loveliest bartender ever gave us champagne on tap and kept topping up our Brie supplies. It was probably my favourite moment of the entire trip – that, and being whisked up to Premium Economy after take off. The leg room on those babies is something else, plus, the bottom of your chair flips up so you basically have a leg rest and it means you only wake up 67 times during the red eye flight rather than 167, which is nice.

So yeah, the U.S. was a blast. The shopping was pretty damn special and now i’m on a mission to make it to every single state before I die. So if you have any tips on your favourite, i’d love to know. Here’s to honeymooning in Hawaii.

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