originally posted by erc
For as much as I love learning from and living vicariously through the informative travelogues of our insightful Insiders like;
profchiara 's exotic jaunts through medieval history as researcher and tv/film star;
jasper 's hot springs dips in Icelandic pools at 0 degrees while viewing the aurora borealis;
gemprincess 's world wide cruises of capitals and state dinners;
californian 's recent meet and greet with penguins in Antarctica;
jerrycoin 's lunar landing write up. Ok, so he hasn't been there, yet. But I'm sure he's first in line (or at least right behind Richard Branson) and will provide another terrific write up complete with photo of the Star Wars bar sommelier.
there's something to be said for the quick hitting weekend getaways. I like to annually visit 6-8 spots off I-95 from Va. Beach to New York. This weekend we did a Residence Inn road trip from the Nation's Capital area (Arlington, Va) to the Big Apple (Manhattan).
We started in Rosslyn,Va. (across the Key Bridge from Georgetown DC) at the Category 4 Residence Inn, a bit of a tired property, staffed with friendly folks, buried among the high rise buildings with no view, no pool, and almost always within 100 yards of active obstacle course style construction. It's strength, location and its Category 4 rating; a close walk from the Arlington National Cemetery, easy access to Georgetown, and close to Metro for getting downtown DC (although the Pentagon City Cat. 4 RI is closer to the city and much nicer).
The Res.Inn is also two blocks from the Vamoose DC to NY bus stop http://www.vamoosebus.com/ which is a real bargain at $30 round trip (w/wi fi). There is a $60 Gold version (which I have tried) - more space, bigger seats, but you know my motto: plow the savings into meals.
We experienced a meaningful day in Arlington walking to the Marine Corps War Memorial (aka Iwo Jima Memorial) and through Arlington National Cemetery, fortunate enough to observe an impressive ceremonial funeral for a Korean War veteran. After paying respects to some family friends graves and visiting several of the sights (Kennedy graves, Tomb of Unknown, Space Shuttle) we returned to Rosslyn and had a terrific meal at Ray's the Third (Ray's Hellburger which served President Obama, closed due to a rent dispute). There are several nice restaurants all casual and within walking distance from the RI on Wilson Blvd. alone; Cafe Asia, Piola (pizza), and even Red Hot and Blue, a reliable local BBQ chain that had Lee Atwater as one of its start up investors (for finer dining cross over into Georgetown and give 1789 a shot).
As one who grew up in DC area, I've visited this hallowed site several times. As a son of a Korean war veteran, I was taught early on to respect all that it represented. Now with young men who I've coached graduating from service academies, OCS, and ranger school, one of the inscriptions on the pedestal of the bronze statue, "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue" takes on an intensified meaning.
On a less solemn note, but still quite patriotic, locals know the site to be one of the best viewing spots for the Independence Day fireworks on the National Mall. Now, I'm not going to disclose my secret parking space that has allowed us over the years to have a great picnic, view the show, and be home before the finale is replayed by PBS, but the Rosslyn Metro is almost as efficient.
After a typically fine RI breakfast, we took the bus to NY and arrived in 4 hours. Tolls alone exceeding $30, plus gas, wear and tear on car, driver and of course NY parking make this a comfortable (and safe) deal. I also often go out of Bethesda, Md. staying at the Cat. 4 Residence Inn (nicer and much more restaurant/theatre activity).
As Gem Princess just wrote about, there are often great deals to be found for those hardy travelers willing to go to NY in Jan/Feb. Not only do you get great rates (F Inns <$100 and my RI for $144) but you also get low occupancy making for quick elevator trips, smaller crowds at breakfast and high probability for view upgrades. This time I was issued a corner studio suite with a view of Bryant Park (last trip at the other end of the property, I had a great Empire St. view). Excellent opportunity to catch several plays or concerts (or David Letterman or Jimmy Fallon).
Enjoyable day and night view of the city northward, overlooking Bryant Park. Hey, who needs Essex House, there's Central Park at the end of 6th Avenue (can also see East River).
We enjoyed a brisk, both temperature and pace, walk down the High Line (which is even more attractive in the spring with everything in bloom) and headed to our pre-dinner drinks spot, Gaslight Lounge. We discovered this oasis around the turn of the century and try to make it a point to drop in, any time we're down this part of town. It's located in Chelsea near the meat packing district at 9th Ave. and 14th St. Don't let the district name fool you, this part of town is becoming quite chic with Diane Von Furstenberg, lululemon, and several other "hot" retailers open around the lounge. We've never been here after 7pm, but for a quiet, peaceful drink in a comfortable chair - this place fills the bill.
The Gaslight Lounge (Chelsea), taken after two groups (about 8 folks) departed at 5 pm. As you can see, plenty of space, comfortable seats, and peace of mind quiet, great for a relaxing pre-something round. As stated, never been here after 7 pm when those with a pulse take over.
Dinner at Colicchio and Sons at 85 10th Ave. was superb. We tried the Tap Room rather than the Tasting Menu more formal restaurant and couldn't have been happier. The service was splendid, the food magnificent and the pace perfect. IMO, just like I prefer Cafe Spiaggio to Spiaggio in Chicago, this is a can't miss stop.
Saturday we had breakfast at one of the best Res Inn's offerings in the country. Fresh fruit, dried fruit, and all of the other usuals, each properly prepared and even soda fountains working in the morning. Plenty of room in their spacious third floor library/dining room and plentiful NY Times for everyone (unlike many RI's, first come/first serve policy). Another attribute that helps this RI stand out is the corner bar which is there if you want/need it. Stopped by the Renaissance's R Lounge for a quick bite - the food is acceptable, the service adequate, in other words nothing special - but you're there for the view and people watching of Times Square, a relaxing break.
R-Lounge at the Times Square Renaissance - Adequate food, acceptable service, fun view. Have a drink, people watch (and digital screen view) then head out to dinner.
Sunday a nice walk, the great breakfast buffet (Sunday NY Times - now that ain't chopped liver as the locals like to say and it was a great read on the return bus trip), another walk to work off the meal and off to the 11:30 am bus, back at 3:45 pm and into the neighborhood in time for the Super Bowl parties in the cul de sac. A good time had by all.
Bryant Park - active year round (sits behind the fabulous NYC Library which was the original Google). There's me in the background executing a fine triple klutz.
Next stop; Newport Coast Villas, where by using the terrific photos and restaurant reviews of pluto and the handwritten notes left in special places Hansel and Gretel style by tef, we'll map out another Insider driven excellent adventure.