Sometimes when you try to “escape from it all,” you actually just end up dealing with some of life’s hardest issues a million miles away from being able to do anything. I think that, after years of traveling, I’ve learned that you don’t really escape from anything when you go away. If you’re a parent and traveling with kids, you know as well I do that you still have to wake up early even if you’re in a hotel with kids and you’re still “on" for every waking second during the day. If you’ve got a high stress job, you often are followed to your remote destination by gentle pings of emails piling up throughout the day- either for you to muddle through upon return or hack away at as you sit on a beach chair. Life is life- sometimes you just get to face it with it with a prettier view.
Over the weekend, Tyler & I met my parents and siblings in Washington, D.C. for a long weekend. We found flights for $350 and my family jumped at the option of having a fun weekend away without the kids.
First things first, we had a GREAT time. While you can’t escape life’s problems when you travel, you can give yourself some amazing opportunities. Like having long dinners with people you love that aren’t interrupted or shadowed by the pile of dishes in a kitchen. We all saw stuff that both a bit familiar (we lived there for a year as kids) and new (nobody has really been back since we were teenagers)- and it was all in the backdrop of a snowy and wintery city.
After a few days away, we woke up on our final morning to a phone call from a dear friend saying that Edie needed to go into see someone about her breathing. This, sadly, isn’t her first visit to the hospital for this… nor is it even her fifth or sixth. When it’s cold season, we split our time between our home in London and a paediatric unit of a local hospital. All is fine, but she’ll probably have some sweet asthma like her dad. So while it’s not terrifying, it is a horrible to be an ocean away on one of those days.
But, God was so kind, and put the two best people that I can think of in all of Europe to be there for her. My friend, Ruth, not only knows her so well… but is trained as a doctor and has a kid with similar breathing issues. The other person is our former au pair, Rebeca, who had flown in for the weekend to watch the kids. If you know her, you’ll know why I felt so okay with Edie being in the hospital without me, if Rebeca could be there with her. (She moved in with us when Edie was 5 weeks old, so she’s family!)
We spent the rest of the day feeling the knot in our stomachs tighten as she wasn’t getting better… and then, as we sat in a really awesome church, we got a text that she had stabilised a bit. After a few more hours, they decided she could go home and she was home before we had taken off on our (empty! Amazing!) Virgin Atlantic flight home.
After landing thirty minutes ahead of schedule, we made a mad dash to get home before the kids left for school. Our Uber rolled up just as the kids were about to leave. As we hopped out of the car, I saw Harrison had climbed up on the couch to peek out for his friends passing by. I went along the pavement and stood in front of him. He noticed the person standing below him, looked at me and just stared in my eyes for about 5 seconds in confusion. Then he yelled “MOM!” and hopped down to open the door. As we walked in, everyone inside cheered with excitement at our appearance before school. Including Edie- who was still in the same pyjamas from her day in the hospital, as she’d fallen asleep on the way home the night before. We got a big hands in the air scream and a big-diaper run to our legs.
While traveling is great and one of the biggest loves of my life, I’m constantly reminded that if life at home isn’t pretty… there’s no special place anywhere that can make you forget. You can hide from the ugly even in the prettiest of places… but I’ll never stop trying to find them to make great new memories that are beautiful.
And I am also amazed at how tired you can be in just a few short hours after returning home to small children….
Our Favourite Things In D.C. Were…
LE DIPLOMATE: Great bistro that is so French, you’ll forget you’re not in Europe. The bread basket alone deserves a medal. The onion soup and cheeseburger are flipping delicious. And DON’T MISS THE PROFITEROLES.
1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | (202) 332-3333
1789: There aren’t many restaurants that I would dub “Colonial Chic,” but this one is and it owns it. You’ll feel as if you might be a guest of George Washington for a formal dinner that Martha has organised. The food is fab, and the ambiance is perfect.
1226 36th St NW, Washington, DC 20007 | (202) 965-1789
EL SOL: This was recommended to me via Instagram as a delicious hole-in-the-wall Mexican food restaurant, and it was exactly that. And we loved every second of it.
1227 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 | (202) 815-4789
FIOLA MARE: This is an upscale Italian restaurant on the water. It specialises in fish, but they have a killer pappardelle with bolognaise sauce that might have been my very favourite thing. Get some of the ceviche or hamachi for a fab starter. Reservations and a posh outfit needed.
3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007 | (202) 525-1402
RASIKA: We went here for great Indian food one night. My family all voted it as their favourite meal. (Tyler and I are spoiled by Dishoom in London, sorry, but not sorry that it holds the trophy in our hearts for best curry out on the town.) It was good though and I would totally recommend it! The crispy spinach is a total treat and I could eat that entirely for my entire meal!
633 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004 | (202) 637-1222
BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE: This Georgetown coffee shop was light, airy and the happy staff made it feel even brighter. The style is Scandinavian and cool, and the brown butter blondies are a great little treat with a cup of coffee.
1046 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC 20007 | (510) 653-3394
DISTRICT DOUGHNUT: This is a chain with a few shops around town. It’s cute and the limited menu rotates seasonally. Look for items like creme brûlée- where they actually torch the top to make it crunchy! There are some good seasonal options, but I think the best walk away item for me was the cinnamon roll made out of donut dough. To be honest, I’ll never replace the classic American donut shop old-fashioned with any fancy donut shop find like these… but it was still a really great place to find yourself on a snowy Saturday morning in Georgetown.
3327 Cady's Alley NW, Washington, DC 20007 | (202) 333-2594
RITZ CARLTON GEORGETOWN: While the rooms feel a bit corporate, the staff and living room lounge add great character to this well-located Ritz. You’ll be able to walk around Georgetown’s best streets and spots within a couple of minutes… and the apothecary jars full of candy, fireside s’mores, and happy hours with free hot chocolate (and all the necessary trimmings) make it feel very fun.
3100 South Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 | (202) 912-4100
The things you recommended that sounded AMAZING (but we ran out of time to try):
LITTLE PEARL: “It’s the lunch spot owned by the Pinepple and Pearl, which is one of the best restaurants in DC. It’s also in a truly lovely little building. It’s a small menu, but everything is delicious.” (@stickynotes21)
IRON GATE: “Oldest restaurant in the city-bar is in an old carriage house. They have an outdoor patio with fire pits, blankets and a trellis. The restaurant itself is a 200 year old house. All the ambiance and great Greek tapas!” (@kahicks00)
TOKI UNDERGROUND: Recommended by two foodie friends. No quotes, but full confidence.
BLUE DUCK: Another name that was listed again and again!
*images original to Aspiring Kennedy