Washington DC in July: Part 1

This weekend, we went back to Washington DC for another wedding. Unsurprisingly, we had a blast. This time we were situated in Alexandria, VA. What a charming town! Of course, we were located in the center of the tourist district, just a few blocks from the Potomac. Since the town didn’t sustain a lot of damage due to the Civil War, a lot of the old buildings are still standing.

We were staying at the Hotel Monaco, which was a lovely hotel. I had never stayed at a Kimpton Hotel before. It’s got nice touches like a happy hour from 5-6 with free wine and snacks. And the hotel is dog friendly. We’re talking about all kinds of dogs. We saw a German Shepherd and a Rottweiler. We later learned that the hotel was the site of the first shooting death of the civil war. Elmer Ellsworth was a Unions soldier who was killed when he tried to remove the Confederate Flag from the hotel (3rd level) by innkeeper James Jackson. Colonel Ellsworth’s men in turn killed him. These were the first two intentional violent deaths of the Civil War. Curiously, there is a plaque outside of the hotel that only mentions James Jackson.

Civil War Plaque

The first thing we did after checking in was get seafood. I love the Midwest but seafood is not a strength. I relish any opportunity to have some good lobster when I’m at one of the coasts. We ended up at the Fish Market, which was supposed to be a little less upscale. The food was magnificent. I had a lobster and it was superb. I think I’ve said this before but you can figure the quality of the lobster by the need for extra butter. The less you need, the better the lobster. This dish was the best I’d had in years. And they gave me more of it than normal, all the legs. I even found some innards that the waiter didn’t recognize (not very tasty but interesting nonetheless). My fiancé delighted on crabs’ legs.

Next was ice cream. The streets were lined with ice cream shops! I got Pralines & Cream and Brownie with Cookie Dough. It was okay. We are a bit spoiled by Black Dog Gelato. But it was lovely to eat our ice cream staring across the Potomac. We even saw a heron grazing nearby.

Then we went on a ghost tour. We love these tours. We always do them if we can especially in smaller towns. I’m not sure how I feel about ghosts but I do love the stories and the tidbits of history. I also have a bit of a morbid sense of humor. Our guide was named Alastair, a Brit, wearing colonial outfit holding a flaming lantern. He was amazing. He led us through Alexandria and told us a series of wonderful ghost stories.

Our tour guide

My favorite was about the Female Stranger. In 1816, a lady and man were let off a ship and they went directly to the best inn. The lady was ill with typhoid. Her husband called for the best medical help. When they came, he made them swear to secrecy never to reveal anything about his wife if she were to say something in her delirium. Apparently, they kept that promise to their graves. She sadly passed away at the Gadsby’s Tavern (going back to George Washington’s time). He had her buried in the town under a grave “the Female Stranger.” Then he ended up skipping out on the bills. No one knows who she is to this day. She apparently haunts the room at the Gadsby’s Tavern, looking for her husband.

The tour ended in a graveyard where we learned some new things. First, the table top graves that you sometimes seen were used for meals. People would have Sunday brunches on the tombs as a way of connecting with their deceased love ones. Second, gravestones were sometimes used to shore up artillery. However, when they were no longer needed, the stones would return to a cemetery. Often times, they’d be thrown over a wall. But it may not be the correct one…So in that cemetery, there may be 20-30 gravestones and none may actually belong there. Allegedly, many ghosts wander to see if they can find their tombstones. Also, some of the soldiers decided to carve in extra 1s on the tombstones. Some people lived to be 153… Terrible mischief. Other stones were used for target practice. Yikes!

Tomorrow will be the Smithsonians. That’s all for now!

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