A Quick Sojourn in Washington DC

So here I am, sitting in a Washington D.C. hotel room on a Sunday night. I don't like business travel that starts/ends on a weekend but, in all fairness, our consultants do it all the time. I can handle it once in a blue moon.

I'm in town for a national conference and rather than staying at a $200+/night national chain (i.e. Hampton Inn, Marriott, Hilton, Embassy Suites, etc.), I opted for the Donovan House Hotel. The Donovan is the DC location of the small Thompson Hotel boutique chain. For $189.00/night, I landed a comfortable room in a stylish hotel that is a mere 10 minute walk from the convention center. $189.00 gets you plenty of space, access to a fitness center and you're only a 10 minute walk from this...

Not bad.

Now, I took the super shuttle from BWI to Washington D.C. The cost was $37.00 compared to an estimated $85.00 taxi fare (W-O-W!). Waiting for the shuttle took about 20 minutes and then the ride was maybe 45 minutes long. Thankfully, I was the first stop.

After I checked in, I decided to do some walking... down Vermont to the White House, around the Treasury Building and over to the Ellipse. I thought about walking over to the Washington Monument but decided against it. I would walking further and further from the hotel and I wasn't sure that I felt like it. So, I took a meandering route back to the hotel to where I would pick a place for dinner.

After a few searches on the Washington Post's page, I opted for Luigi's Famous Pizzeria. The editorial review was good enough and the restaurant was easy to find (about a five block walk), inexpensive (My total meal, with tip, was under $20.00) and apparently a Washington staple (in business since the 1940s). How was it? Pretty good... not great but good.

The restaurant had a inviting main dining room with a cozy atmosphere. The sunroom seating seemed a little cold to me and the upstairs room was larger and less cozy. To me, the main room was the spot. I started with a bell pepper bruschetta that wasn't bad and it was only $2.50 for two pieces. The bread echoed what I had read from some reviews - it seemed kind of stale. If it wasn't for the topping, it may not have been worth eating. I then ordered a pizza for one with mortadella, artichoke hearts and green olives. The pizza was big enough for 2 with lots of cheese (far too much for my personal taste) and piled with ingredients. It was a good pizza - heavy - but good. I would go back but not by myself as the pizza was just too much. I topped it all off with an espresso and, again, I was just under $20.00 (incl. tip). Not bad.

The pizza was weighing me down so I headed back to the hotel for an apres-dinner workout. The "state of the art" fitness center (as advertised on the page) includes 4 treadmills, 2 ellipticals and 1 recumbent bike. There's also a weight bench and a set of dumbbells, ranging from 2 1/2 lbs up to 50 lbs. That's enough to get a workout in. I ran through some supersets of compound moves like squats to overhead presses and then called it a night.

Here I am... tomorrow I'll head to the convention. After that, I planning on hoofing it to Union Station where I'll catch a MARC train to BWI. I'll let you know how it went.


Quick Pho Tip

Here's a quick dining tip... I decided to check out Tau Bay (not to be confused with Pho Tau Bay) today on the Southwest Freeway - a popular Vietnamese restaurant on the corner of 59 and Beechnut. Excellent place for pho. My boss and I went there for lunch and had two stout bowls of pho for $13.00. Not bad. A majority of the clients were Asian and the service was fast and efficient. Apparently the SW Freeway location is better than the Bellaire location as it is run by the original owner.

Tau Bay
8150 Southwest Freeway
Located in the same shopping center as the Carnaval night club.

Getting Ready to Discover Karpathos

So, I mentioned Sicily was off... well, where will be be going?


In fact, the page above, hosted by Sven Damm in Germany, is one of the main reasons we chose Karpathos, an island in the Dodecanese tucked between Crete and Rhodes. What a beautiful island! Gorgeous beaches, stunning and sometimes foreboding mountains, traditional villages and reasonable rates. It's also a bit off the beaten path... that means it is off the radar of most of the masses. Good news for us.

The island is certainly larger than Milos but still pretty manageable. From what we've road, most of our time will be spent in the southern half since the northern half is mostly wild and untamed. Getting to Olymbos via the main "road" on the northern half of the island takes 3 hours... apparently three grueling hours.

Anyway, we'll be staying at the Aegean Village (see below) in Amopi at the very reasonable rate of 70 Euro a night for a seaview room. Nice!

All we need to do now is rent a car and we'll be good to go. Otherwise, our stay in Athens will be in familiar hotels... the Athens Gate and the Sofitel.


Two reasons to visit El Preferido

There are many reasons to visit El Preferido de Palermo in Palermo Soho. Here are two - an ice cold chopp of Quilmes and a picada.


Ready Mady Itinerary in Sicily

I have to say I was awfully excited about heading to Sicily in September... we would finally visit a part of Italy neither of us had seen and we would be going without relatives. A good plan! We booked our reward tickets, came up with a whole itinerary and made all of our reservations.

Ai Lumi - 5 nigts at Ai Lumi in Trapani. Now, some might ask, why Trapani? Simple... the ferries run very frequently from Trapani to Favignana. If you catch the hydrofoil, you're there in 20 minutes and the hotels cost 1/2 of what they would on the island. Trapani is know for excellent cuisine and it's also close to places like Erice. But Favignana... that's what we were looking forward to visiting. A gorgeous island know by few Italians and pretty much no Americans. It would've been a dream.

Casale Corcella - 2 nights in Scopello. Now, this simple farmhouse not only had an amazing view of the Golfo di Castellamare, it was a nice property, had beautiful rooms and was near the very charming town of Scopello. Everything I had heard about this area was fantastic - beautiful bays in which to swim, small trattorie and the nearby Riserva Dello Zingaro. Scopello is well known for a famous tonnara where one can swim in a gorgeous setting. The town, while tiny, is supposed to be a perfect little place. I was excited about the two days we would spend in this town. Segesta was just around the corner, too.

Casa Ruffino - 1 night in Balestrate at a very highly reviewed B&B. We thought... why stay at a mediocre hotel near the airport when we could stay in another seaside town in a B&B that sounds simply charming. Ahh... another tough one to pass.

Well, conflicts are conflicts and we just won't be able to go in September. In the future, we do have ready-made itinerary all in place. The hotels are selected, the towns are picked out... all we need are new tickets.

Now... that doesn't mean we're out of luck. We will get to go somewhere else...