Last year, my family and I were blessed with a wonderful opportunity – our oldest daughter, Alexandra (at the time, age 11) was nominated for a fabulous leadership program in DC. This year, our second daughter, Evanthea (age 10), was nominated for the same program. I posted last year’s trip (part one and part two) as I wanted to share our experiences with everyone. This year, I feel I should do the same because we saw so many new things! As a caveat, most of these photos are shot on our phones or a point and shoot – I opted not to lug my DSLR this year!
This post is the basics: transportation, food, program. The next post will be the sightseeing!
First off, the Envision program was fabulous!
They fixed some SNAFUs from check in and the process was seamless! My only complaint was I don’t think they were prepared for kids with all food allergies. Evanthea has milk allergies and she cannot eat anything that contains any milk product, nor can any milk product touch any food she will eat. Sounds easy? Try it one day when you’re eating with 300 kids off a buffet…not that simple! There were some miscommunications but I really liked how the staff stepped in and helped her – they were so kind and helpful! Thank you!!
JetBlue Airlines – I give them a B+ this time.
We purchased our seats with our points so no price point to share. The ground crew on either side (Bradley and Reagan) were fabulous – they offered us a chance to pre-board so I can clean Evanthea’s seat and get the girls settled. One of the attendants, however, needs to check her poker face – one of the flights only offered cookies or Doritos. I asked for a milk free option and she gave me a loud incredulous, “What? I don’t even know what HAS milk in it! The cookies are nut free, try that”. Huh? It’s for the kid next to me, that is marked on your manifest as a food allergy kid… “Oh, try Doritos…they don’t have milk” Um, cheese is made from milk… Thankfully another attendant stepped in and offered craisins.
TSA – They get a FAIL from me for our trip back. My mom was stopped for having prescription lotion (okay, that’s fine…due diligence) and her bags were searched. She was holding some of Evanthea’s food (individually wrapped peanut butter and small apple sauce packets). One agent was very, VERY eager to tell us the food needs to be tossed. We requested a supervisor when we explained that it is for a child with food allergies. The supervisor said it was fine and he was okay with the food because it was all individually sealed. Our original agent then took it upon himself to swab each and every single packet and make a really big deal over having the food. I completely understand the fact that they have a job to do and I respect each step – but I think this one agent crossed a line.
Hotel – DoubleTree by Hilton, Silver Springs, MD – They get a C from me…you can read my review on Trip Advisor.
Transportation – DC Metro & Uber — Both get A’s from me! For the metro, we purchased a SmartTrip card last year and just reloaded our passes. We opted for the 7 day unlimited use – you can use it any time for as many trips. If you use it during peak times, then you just pay the difference. Easy peasy! The maps are easy to read and I would suggest using the transit option on your phone’s GPS instead of using the Metro app. Uber was also fantastic – so convenient and the drivers were nice and on time. Had some wonderful chats with some of the drivers!
Now, on to the good stuff…the FOOD!!!
Noodles & Co, Silver Spring, MD – A++ As soon as we said we have a food allergy, they stopped right away and grabbed the manager. He explained what she can have and why. Loved it!! And I love the food there anyway!! 🙂
The cafeteria at the Newseum – A+ It’s weird because I didn’t take a picture, but one of the best cafeteria food I’ve had in a long time! Pricy, but we found that all of the cafeterias in DC are! We learned it’s Wolfgang Puck…that definitely explained the taste and the price!
The Elephant and Castle – A+ Amazing food! I have been to the Elephant and Castle in Canada and this brought back some old memories (that was the first restaurant that I had a beer at the bar…I won’t tell you when!). And everything was still as I remember it! We got there at Happy Hour and Alexandra had her first Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri! We ordered: (clockwise from the cocktails) Greek ribs, bangers and mashed, hot wings, pretzel sticks.
The US Capitol Cafeteria – A+ Always my favorite…gosh, I just love it there! LOL The food is fabulous and again…the prices are off the charts! But yummy!! And yes, this was just for Alexandra and I!! We were starving (and didn’t eat for the rest of the day!)!!!
Chinatown – I don’t even know the name of the place we went to, it was a tiny hole in the wall. The food was fabulous, but we had a grander expectation of Chinatown. It was just a half of a block. But the food was fab!!
USDA Cafeteria – A+ They would have gotten an A++ from me…but their prices were just as high as the Capitol! But the food was AMAZING!! Best I’ve had in awhile! Fresh, creative, many choices! But bring your wallet!!
Pho Tan Vinh, Silver Spring, MD – A++ Best Pho ever! And allergy friendly and super nice! Price was right on target with other Pho restaurants (same as CT). But the food was spectacular!
Stay tuned tomorrow for our touristy things! Some old, some new!