Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Archive for the category “Trip Report”

Help Me Plan My Trip to Tampa….

Introduction
Pasco to Salt Lake City (SLC)
SLC to Los Angeles (LAX)
LAX, “The Bump,” and Torrance Marriott
LAX to Atlanta
Atlanta to Tampa
Hotel Review: DoubleTree Suites Tampa Bay
Exploring Tampa Part 1: Honeymoon Island
Hotel Review: Tampa Marriott Waterside
Bern’s Steak House Tampa
Exploring Tampa Part 2: Cigar City Brewery and Clearwater Beach
Hotel Review: Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel
Exploring Tampa Part 3: Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center and Ybor City
Tampa to New York (LGA)
New York to Minneapolis (MSP) to Pasco, WA (PSC)

Well I am headed from Washington…where just yesterday it snowed to sunny (hopefully) and warm Tampa.  I still do not have all the details of my trip/vacay planned out, so I would gladly welcome and tips on where to visit/eat/have a merry time.

Maybe not the biggest vacation hotspot in Florida, but it seems interesting and the airfare and hotel rates are pretty favorable compared to the rest of Florida.

To incentive-ise this, I will give away 5,000 Ultimate Rewards Points to the best suggestion, at my discretion.  So please, comment away….

DC for 4 Days: Conclusion

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Writing this trip report reminded me of how much I like traveling around and exploring places, and how well worth it this trip was.

I was a little under the gun at work both before and after the trip,  so getting away for a few days was quite relaxing.  While there is a TON of stuff to see in DC, I found it a little more relaxing the second time to just soak the city in casually, and not worry, about what I was or was not seeing.

I was very satisfied by experience staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City and would recommend it to anyone visiting the DC area.  The location is not in the heart of DC (where I stayed my first visit), but it is still fairly convenient due to having a metro stop across the street.

It’s also an incredible hotel.  I love travel hacking because it is all about experiencing things above and beyond what I would normally pay for or be able to afford.  So I appreciated the use of Marriott Rewards points to allow me stay at such a fine and luxurious hotel, which I wouldn’t have chosen to pay for with cash.

Though I was a little irritated about by some of their policies, (being told I wouldn’t get lounge access with Marriott status) I found the hotel staff to be fairly courteous and professional.

And I had another good experience on Delta.  While the SkyMiles program and the SkyTeam both have their shortcomings, their domestic program is darn hard to compete with, which is why I maintain my loyalty to them.  I have found Delta flight attendants to usually be pretty cheery and helpful in general–but I guess sitting in First Class helps too.

I think because I live near a smaller airport, I really appreciate being able to fly on the larger “non-regional” aircraft with all the bells and whistles and meal service, like the Boeing 757 or Airbus A330.  Even if it’s just cereal, there’s something neat about eating breakfast (or any meal for that matter) while watching a movie 30,000 feet up in the air.

And of course flying Delta left me with something gained from the trip — it helped me not only make Medallion status for the first time, but make it to the “mid-tier” level of Gold Medallion.  Due to a number of factors, if I hadn’t been pushing to make Medallion I wouldn’t have cared as much about putting down the money to go, but also wouldn’t have such great memories.

But I am glad that I went, and look forward to similar “mileage runs” in the future.

DC for 4 Days: Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to Pasco, WA (PSC)

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion                                                                                                                                                              _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

DL 4769/CRJ-900

Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to Pasco, WA (PSC)

Depart:  9:40 PM          Arrive: 10:49 PM, PDT [3 Hours, 9 Minutes]

Seat: 3A (First)

When putting together my recent post on the World’s Best and Worst Airport Terminals, I tried to think of the best and worst that I personally had been in.  Usually, any airport experience is great for me due to my love of flying, but if I had to pick a least favorite I think I would have to pick the Minneapolis airport.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of great stuff in the airport, – a number of restaurants, a a couple of SkyClubs, and the nation’s largest mall is only a mile away.  But the airport layout can be a royal pain.  It is basically seven different concourses laid out in a huge square.  But what makes it so annoying is while there is a train system, it is not very efficient for crossing between two different concourses, say C and G.

MSP Layout

So getting from one side of the square to another may require walking all the way to the corner of the airport, turn and walk ALL the way down that concourse, then walk part of the way down the third.  So even with the advent of the existing train system, it is so spread out in such a random pattern it can still be irritating trying to navigate your way around.

All that to say I was very fortunate on this particular evening.  After landing in Minneapolis, I only had to walk a couple hundred feet to get from my connecting gate to my departing gate.

I had about half an hour to wait for my flight home to board, so I grabbed some coffee (Caribou Coffee–just can’t find it here in Washington state) then waited around for a bit in the gate area.

When boarding was finally called, only 7 of 9 seats in the 3 x 3 First Class cabin of the “regional” jet were taken. I was offered a pre-departure beverage right away, and went with a coffee and Baileys.  We took off on time-on, and I did some work on my laptop, but slept most of the flight.

I always find traveling between my home airport of Pasco and Minneapolis ironic. Despite the small, quaint size (4 gates) of PSC and the use of a regional jet, it is usually my longest flight of any leg when flying at domestic, at just over 3 hours.

Finally, weary and jet-lagged I arrived back home.  Drearily I walked though the brightly lit, yet empty airport and had to wait seemingly forever for my luggage.  And my bags were Priority tagged, whatever that means in this case.

DC for 4 Days: Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (ATL) to Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

DL 4769/Airbus A320

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL) to Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)

Depart:  7:15 PM          Arrive: 9:03 PM, CST [2 Hours, 48 Minutes]

Seat: 2B (First)

Following my incredible meal at One Flew South, I headed over to the steak sauce gate-A1 to catch my connecting flight.  Soon after I arrived boarding began, and the 4-row, 4-across first class cabin had a full load.

The gentlemen next to me was very social, and we had very nice conversation over the course of the flight.

My seatmate had experienced quite an interesting day of travel.  Because he had booked his trip using Priceline, his outbound leg was on Delta, and his return leg was supposed to be on United.

He missed his departing flight on United, and ended up playing round robin with the United and Delta counters.  Finally, a Delta agent “decided” that since he was originally ticketed on Delta, they could re-book him.  Lo and behold, as Silver Medallion he must have been extremely delighted to find out that he had also received an upgrade!

About half an hour after we took off, dinner was served.  It was more of a “snack” than dinner, which was fine by me considering the big meal I had in Atlanta.  Even if I am not real hungry, I always seem to have a very hard time refusing free food on airplanes.

On the menu was a turkey sandwich, accompanied by potato chips, a bowl of fruit and a brownie.  Not the greatest of food, but it tasted fine and was able to tide me over for the rest of the evening.

As we continued to talk, my seatmate became inquisitive about miles and points in general.  He asked me how I received my upgrade (in this case miles) the process one goes about to receive an upgrade, and about how I had to learned to do it.

He seemed very impressed by my “knowledge,” commended me on me research, and  wanted to learn how he could find out more.  At this point in time, I was just becoming a points junkie so I recommended a couple of the sites that I read on a daily basis.

Anyway, we had a very pleasant conservation talking about all things travel and airlines, and I was happy to be able to pass what little advice I have to someone else.

The flight was fairly smooth, and seemed to pass by fairly quickly, due to the great conversation.

We landed in Minneapolis and I went on my merry way with one more flight to go…

DC for 4 Days: Washington Reagan (DCA) to Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (ATL)/One Flew South

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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DL2039/Boeing (Douglas) MD-90
Washington Reagan National (DCA) to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL)
Depart:  2:59 PM          Arrive: 4:53 PM, EST [1 Hours, 32 Minutes]
Seat: 3C (First)

Following check-out from the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City I took the metro the airport.  While checking in at the counter nearest to the Metro entrance, (perhaps my problem not to use the First Class check-in) the ticket agent informed me that my bag was over 50 pounds.  I informed him that as I would be flying in First Class the weight limit would be 70 pounds, and he responded “Oh, I see you know your rights!”

I proceeded through security and almost made a royal mistake.  I headed over to the gate for my flight, and noticed that the flight had been delayed.   So I waited around for a little bit and noticed that yes, I was looking at a departure to Atlanta, but it was for a later flight!  Fortunately, I realized before my actual flight finished boarding that the flight numbers did not at all match up and found my way to the other gate.

Those of you who have been to Reagan National, at least in the Delta terminal, know how easy this is to do.  In a small area you have 5-10 different gates at the end of the terminal, so it is easy to confuse them.

I boarded the plane, then was offered a pre-departure beverage.  Boarding on the MD-90 didn’t take too terribly long, then we were down the runway and up into the air.

We were only up in the air for around 30 or 35 minutes, before descending into the Atlanta area.

Most people absolutely dread flying through Atlanta, but I love it to death.  Perhaps part of that is I grew up in Tennessee so hearing those charming southern accents reminds me of home.  Also, it was a place I found myself traveling through a fair amount when I was younger, usually on my way to visit relatives in Oklahoma, so it reminds me of the “good ol’ days!”  And finally, I love the great food.  Yes, I said the airport food, but there really are some great options at the Atlanta airport.

They happen to have one of my all time (cheap) favorites, Krystal.  I think what makes Krystal special for me is you cannot get their petite, square hamburgers outside of the southeast, and again it reminds me of my childhood.  So I headed over to the A concourse and grabbed a couple of the mini burgers, as an appetizer….

Krystal's!

My Krystal served as a small appetizer for something else on the finer side of the gastronomic spectrum, a train ride away in the E terminal.

One Flew South is a highly-acclaimed, yet somehow serene gem of the Atlanta airport.  Like Granatos in the Salt Lake City, it was brought into the airport having been already made a local establishment.

Their theme is Japanese-Southern gourmet cuisine.  Aas odd as that may sound, their food is simply incredible.  Hands down it is the most delectable restaurant I have ever been to, and it delivers every time with exquisite delights and exceptional service.

One Flew South

For my main course, I went with the Pan Roasted Ribeye, which consisted of “Grilled romaine, rutabaga, tomatoes, pearl onions, rye croutons, balsamic red wine sauce.”  And it was every bit as good as the picture makes it look:

Pan Roasted Ribeye

My waiter convinced me to try their Bread Pudding with Hazelnut Crunch, which was sensational:

"OFS" Bread Pudding

My stomach full and wallet empty, I sauntered over to the gate for my flight to Minneapolis…

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Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

DC for 4 Days: Exploring Washington DC, Part 4

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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My last full day in DC I decided to use the Capital Bikeshare—with better results this time, to bike down Embassy Row near the home of the Vice President, the U.S. Naval Observatory.  In fact, I even had a couple people ask me for directions while using the bike, thinking that I was a local!

So I took the Metro to up to Woodley Park and found myself biking along Nebraska Avenue, where I saw this rather inconspicuous building:

Department of Homeland Security

The way  you hear about the Department of Homeland Security in the news all the time, you would think the headquarters would seem a bit more commanding and fortified, but I guess not.

I continued on toward Embassy Row, while stopping in front of the U.S. Naval Observatory.

US Naval Observatory and Master Clock

Just past the Observatory is the area on and around Massachusetts Avenue known as Embassy Row, home to the embassies of for over 50 nations.  The neat thing is how no two embassies look alike and reflect their nation’s heritage.

Indian Embassy

Mexican Embassy

I biked all the way down to Dupont Circle then took the Metro to the National Building Museum, near Judiciary Square.  In my opinion though, the building itself was more interesting than the museum:

National Building Museum

I decided to visit the National Mall one last time and biked around there for a little bit.

National Mall - "The Nation's Front Yard"

Smithsonian Castle

Following my stroll around the nation’s lawn, I headed over to the National Portrait Museum before it closed.  Thanks to my biking knowledge and (little) skill, I was able to make it over to the museum in 10 minutes.

I was going to eat at Zola–the restaurant above the International Spy Museum, but it was closed for an event.  Grr… So I changed plans and ended up having dinner at a brewery nearby, before heading back to the hotel to pack up for the next day.

DC for 4 Days: Exploring DC, Part 3

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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Following a shower and breakfast in the lounge the next morning, I headed out on the Metro.  My original plan was to head down to Alexandria via the King Street station, but that got temporarily diverted. To my misfortune, the yellow line (the one I was trying to take) of the Metro was undergoing weekend maintenance outages.  Just my luck that only one track was being used for travel in BOTH directions.  My patience with the Yellow line of the Metro reached a low, so I quickly changed plans and headed for the Federal Triangle area.

During my Segway tour the previous day, our tour guide recommend the Old Post Office pavilion as place to shop and find great views of the city.  While it did once serve as a Post Office sorting center, it soon grew outdated and the atrium has been turned into a shopping/food court area.

Old Post Office Pavilion

I headed in then took the elevator up towards the top.  About half way the elevator stops and there is a gallery area on the history of the building.  Ironically, when the Post Office Pavilion in the 1890s, it was built in the “older” Victorian style of architecture, and even then referred to as the “Old Post Office Pavillion.”

I continued up to the bell tower, in a glass elevator, which provided a great view of the atrium below:

Old Post Office Pavilion Atrium

At the top level of the bell tower are windows on all sides for taking in the breathtaking view.  And I do mean breathtaking.  I actually forgot how good the views were (take that, One Mile A Time) until I started putting this trip report together.

I would even argue that it is provides a greater vantage point than the Washington Monument.  Sure it is not quite as tall, (only 9 stories vs. 555 feet) but it actually is situated on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Thus, in one direction you can look right down the street to the Capitol building, and in the other right down to the Treasury Building and White House.  Even better, it is relatively unknown to many tourists, so there is virtually no wait to get to the top.

View of the Capitol Building

View of the US Treasury Building and White House

View of the Washington Monument

I headed back down then walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the famed Occidental Grill.  The walls are covered with pictures of famous celebrities and political figures dating back to the early 20th century.

As an appetizer, I had the Grilled Quail Stuffed with Duck Sausage, which consisted of “Sautéed Swiss Chard, Caramelized, Sweet Onions and Herb Jus.”  It was simply delicious.

Grilled Quail Stuffed with Duck Sausage

Then as my main entrée I went with the Grilled Atlantic Salmon.  It consisted of “Seasonal Baby Greens, Beets, Pistachio Nuts, and Golden Raisins and Banyuls Vinaigrette with Caramelized Shallots.”

Atlantic Salmon

Being a history buff, I decided to walk over to the historic Willard Intercontinental Hotel, which sits adjacent to the restaurant.  In November 1861, while staying as a guest at the hotel, Julia Ward Howe penned the words to Battle Hymn of the Republic.  In commemoration, there is a portrait of Julia in the lobby:

Patriotic Portrait of Julia Ward Howe

One hundred years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. finished putting together his “I Have a Dream Speech” while staying at the Willard.  Enough of the history lessons before I lose some of my readership….

I decided to try my go at the dysfunctional Yellow line of the Metro, and aided by taxi made it finally to Alexandria.

The town has a lot of great charming Georgian architecture which they have done a good job of keeping in-tact.

Alexandria, VA

Ok I said enough history, but it is hard to avoid sometimes.  After all, I feel I should mention former parishioners of Christ Church include George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

Historic Christ Church

Captain's Row

I walked around for a while, and then headed back to my hotel—which turned out to be a major adventure.  Following the hour-long Metro ride, I quickly pillaged some food from the club lounge.  From there I headed to the Ronald Reagan building-next to the Old Post Office Pavilion where I started out the day, and watched the Capitol Steps.

Capitol Steps

The Capitol Steps are a political satire group started by senate staffers, and well worth the price of admission in my opinion.  Whether you are a Republican or Democrat you can expect to laugh, as they manage to poke fun of both parties.

Overall the day was a little slow at times, but it ended with a bang!

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DC For 4 Days: Exploring DC, Part 2

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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I slept in a little, then got up and grabbed breakfast in the Club Lounge.  I took the metro the the Capitol South Metro stop and then walked around for a little bit.  It was a gorgeous day, and rather quiet, so I took a peaceful stroll while admiring the architecture.

Library of Congress Fountain Statues

I walked for a little ways, by the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and Capitol Administrative buildings, and then headed down Constitution Avenue.

I had heard great things about Charlie Palmer’s, so I decided to get some lunch there.  I had read that it is a great place for politico watching during lunch, but I didn’t see anyone I recognized.

For whatever reason, I didn’t take pictures of my entrees, but I did snag a picture of my dessert:

Fabulously Presented Dessert

After finishing my nice lunch, I hailed a cab to get me to the meeting location for my Segway Tour.  I probably could have walked there, but considering my recent history, I decided not to push it.

The price seemed a little steep, at around $80 for a 2-hour tour, but I had read great reviews about it, and it was well worth it.  I should mention that I have toured DC on trolley, on bus, on bike, and on foot–and by far on segway is the best way to see the sigths.

It does take a bit of getting used to, but they do a great job of training you how to use it in the shop, and it can be picked up rather quickly.  You are given a mini speaker so that you can hear your tour guide as you go racing along.

Segway Tour

And the tour guide did a great job–he was very knowledgeable.  While this was more of a “general” tour, he himself was a Free Mason so he was able to provide us with a lot of intriguing knowledge.  National Treasure or Angels & Demons, anyone?

Now I segway back to my point about the best way to see the city….(no pun intended)   If you are in a bus or a trolley, the very fact that you are in a vehicle impedes your ability to take in your surroundings somewhat, in my opinion.  On a segway, however, all the mobility advantages of being on foot–including being able to go right up to the steps of the Capitol building, (try that on a bike, I dare you), while zipping along.

The bicycle/segway lane on Pennsylvania Avenue is not on the side like on other streets, but rather down the middle of the street which I think is really cool!

Pennsylvania Avenue

Some Famous Guy Lives Here

It was a little crowded in front of the White House, but then when isn’t it.  I am always amazed by how much foreigners gawk at it as well.  Sure it is a famous landmark, but I can’t remember a time when I have ever dreamed about seeing where the Prime Minister of Japan lives!

US Department of the Treasury

Capitol Building West Terrace

National Mall Looking West

It was somewhat of a busy weekend, considering it was graduation weekend in the area.  As I found out, George Washington University has the unique distinction of being the only college to have its commencement ceremony in front of the Capitol Building.

Newseum - The Museum of News

Police on Horseback

I had not had much of a chance to see the Smithsonian Museum of American History, so following my thrilling DC tour on parallel wheels, I headed over there.

Who knew Abraham Lincoln looked so different in his early years?

I headed back to the hotel, and grabbed a quick dinner snack at Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge.

Then I headed to a Washington Nationals game, via Metro.  You never know what you will find in a city’s mass transit system:

Sonix, The Rapper

Actually, I have to hand it to him.  Sonix, as he referred to himself, was rather pleasant to talk to.  I complemented him on his unique hair-do, and he even agreed to let me take his picture.

I was excited when I arrived at the stadium, because somehow I had managed to never attend a Major League baseball game.  The stadium was fairly empty, and I was a little late, so the ticket agent was kind enough to re-accommodate me to another section.

My Section, via ESPN Highlight Reel (I was 10 Feet from where a Home run ball landed--Can you find me?)

After arriving watching the game for a little bit, I took the pleasure of re-seating myself to an even better section, behind third base.

Washington Nationals Game

The game was quite fun, and I found myself soon getting into it.  The baseball gods must have smiled on me, because the game even went into extra innings! It was once said about Washington DC concerning their baseball franchise: “First in War, First in Peace,… and Last in the American League.”  This figured to be true as they ended up losing to the hapless Florida Marlins.

Following the game, I returned to my hotel spent and exhausted…

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DC For 4 Days: Exploring DC, Part 1

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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After arriving at the Ritz-Carlton and checking in, I headed out to the Smithsonian American Art Museum before it closed.  Once there, I had about 45 minutes to explore before it closed, then headed to get something to eat.  Usually I try to avoid chain restaurants in these situations but , I I don’t have the chance to eat at one very often, and it is just so good.  I decided to forgo the metro and get there via Capital BikeShare.

During my previous trip to DC I had an exhilarating adventure of a bide ride (moving faster than the traffic during rush hour) using a 1-day bike rental service. Hoping to replicate this experience, I did some research before my trip and discovered  Capital Bikeshare.  They feature 120 bicycle kiosks throughout DC and Arlington, and have very flexible payment plans depending on how long you’ll be there for. You insert your credit/debit card and are given a 4-digit key code to unlock a bike.  The first 30 minutes of every trip are free, then you are charged incrementally after that.

Capital Bikeshare Kiosk

Four days of using Capital Bikeshare cost me a total of $35, which is actually what most rental places would charge you for a single day.

I thought the Capital Bikeshare would be a fun way to get to the Cheasecake Factory, but my creativity ended up costing me.  I used my phone to look up the address, and I knew exactly how to get to the street.  But my problem was I was clueless as to what part of the street it was on–I didn’t know I would end up biking clear to Maryland, literally.

After 30 minutes or so I made it to the street I was looking for (around Georgetown) and kept pedaling along.  Soon I realized the street numbers weren’t changing all that fast, and I was mostly biking uphill now, soI turned in my bike at another kiosk and gave up.  I snagged a taxi which took me the final 2 miles or so.

Exhausted after my long journey, I finally arrived at the Cheesecake Factory to re-fuel.  I felt real dumb when I asked my waitress where the nearest metro stop was, only to hear her say “right outside the door.”  I could have just taken the stinking metro!!  I guess the travel lesson learned is don’t just know the address of where you are going, but know specifically HOW to get there.

But half the fun of the trip is the journey right…?

DC for 4 Days: Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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Once I retrieved my baggage at Reagan National, I purchased 3-day Metro pass.  I then hopped on and headed to the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, which like the airport.  In addition to only being a couple of stops away from the airport, the hotel provides convenient mass-transit access in that it is literally across the street from the Pentagon City Metro station.

At the time, I was not blogging, so I did not get an outside picture of the hotel.  However, the photo below is courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton website:

Ritz-Carlton,. Pentagon City Entrance - Courtesy of ritzcarlton.com

As I mentioned in the trip introduction post, the room had been booked using 120,000 Marriott Rewards points for four nights.  As I found out later, Ritz-Carlton award stays of 4 nights or longer receive the final night complimentary.  Oh well–it really didn’t matter though since I couldn’t stay more than 4 nights because of work.

I was greeted at the door before proceeding to the check-in counter inside.  There was one other person checking in while I was there, but I had to wait for 5 minutes which kind of irked me.  I inquired about an room upgrade and/or access to the Club Lounge floor, was told that this was not a common benefit given to Marriott Rewards Platinum members.  As I will later explain, this did not turn out to be that big of a deal.

I was directed to the 14th floor, where I was provided a Deluxe Guest Room.

Entry Way to my Hotel Room

Don’t worry – the bed and bathroom didn’t look this un-kept when I walked in.  I took these pictures just before leaving the hotel on the final day of my trip.

Bathroom

Bathroom

King-Sized Bed

Work Space/ Love Seat

The “denied” Club Lounge access didn’t turn out to be a problem, though on a couple of counts.  The lounge is situated on the 18th floor, and my key card denied me access to this floor, since my room was on the 14th floor.  I remedied this problem though, by taking the emergency exit stairs up to the 18th floor.  I have actually tried this at a couple of hotels, and in some cases there is a key-card entry to the lounge.  I lucked out in this instance, since there was only an entryway leading into the lounge.

Before anyone screams at me for being unethical, I may have had key card access all along.  The last day of my trip, on a whim I decided to try to use my key card for access to the club floor, and it worked!  There is a chance the lady at the front desk might have been confused.  After all, her English was not what I would call perfect.

Again, I unfortunately do not have photos of the club lounge so you will have to make do with another photo from the Ritz-Carlton website.  The lounge provides an exception view of the surrounding area including the Pentagon, Reagan National Airport, and the Washington Monument.

The hotel spread was delicious, but not necessarily substantial.  The breakfast was more of a continental breakfastl style, and finger foods/hors d’oeuvre were available for lunch and dinner along with complimetary wine and beer.  Unlike a number of other hotel club lounges however,  this one was actually open during the weekend.  In fact, despite the erratic times when I would frequent the lounge due to trying to see the city, I sort of became known as a regular by the lounge staff.  During one of the days I was in there, I was asked at lunch if I would be joining them for dinner.  While I told them I wasn’t sure if I would be making it, I appreciated their consideration, and think this exemplifies the great service of the fine hotel staff.

I also did visit the fyve Lounge on the ground floor of the hotel for a drink.  Nothing memorable, except for a citing of the founder of some obscure site called Facebook, complete with his entourage.  I should have told him Timeline would be a bad, bad idea but that is another topic entirely…

fyve Lounge - Courtesy of ritzcarlton.com

Overall, I would rate the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City a 4 out of 5.  While I came across some friendly staff, the check-in staff seemed inefficient and a little snooty.  I found having a Metro stop right outside of the front door very convenient for my visit to Washington, D.C.  For my next visit to the area I would really consider staying at this property again.

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