4 Days in London - Tussaud's and Harry Potter

London weather has been good to us - blue skies with cool breeze - the perfect weather to go around on a hop on hop off tour. On our third day, we went and visited Madame Tussaud's Musuem. The queue was long so it was good we purchased the tickets in advance. Arish and I enjoyed the experience more than the kids. I think they got bored because they do not really know who those people were except for Spiderman of course.

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Kurt didn't enjoy this photo session with One Direction
Kurt didn't enjoy this photo session with One Direction

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Beatles fan
Beatles fan

The bus going back to the main loop just so much time and we got late for a meeting. While there, it was not all play. We met with two couples who are all based in London and will be getting married in Dubai. So after our trip in Madame Tussaud, we went back to our hotel and met with them.

After our meeting, we went and met with some friends and my aunt (again) for a ride on the London Eye. It was quite an experience but not that amazing. The wait on the queue was longer than the whole experience of going around the Eye. The view on top was breath-taking especially during sunset though. If you get the chance and time to ride the Eye, go for it but otherwise, you can skip it. Thank you Cesar and family for this unforgettable experience.

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melrish-1674  Fourth day, I woke up excited because we will be going to Harry Potter Studios. I am not a hard core Potter fan but yeah...I read all the books (some of them twice) and watched all the films several times. A week before our trip, I was disappointed because there were no available tickets for Harry Potter anymore. But then I read on a forum thread that I can try and check Golden Tours website every few hours because there are some customers who cancels theirs and the slot opens up until it is booked again. And yup! God is good and gave us tickets - all 4 of us (well, Kurt goes in for free). I had to pay extra though for chauffeur services as the tickets available were upgraded ones...so I shelled out more than I planned because I wouldn't miss it for the world. Seeing the Great Hall and Hogwarts Express in person, having delicious Butterbeer, and bringing home some goodies was worth it.

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The Hogwart's Great Hall
The Hogwart's Great Hall

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The Gryffindor common room
The Gryffindor common room
Dumbledore's office
Dumbledore's office
Weasley's house. Sweater being knitted by itself and clothes being ironed by invisible hands
Weasley's house. Sweater being knitted by itself and clothes being ironed by invisible hands

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Butterbeer!!! And Butterbeer ice cream?!!!!
Butterbeer!!! And Butterbeer ice cream?!!!!

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No.4 Privet Drive
No.4 Privet Drive

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Went to Ollivander's to get my wand
Went to Ollivander's to get my wand

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And the chauffeur ride was also comfortable. Mr. Recep, our chauffeur, was a jolly old man. He's been in London for more than 30 years. Originally from Turkey, he flew to London to look for his luck even though he was scared of flying. He worked odd jobs to feed his family and now he proudly owns his own home, all his kids are now having stable businesses in London and he has an allotment where he grows organic vegetables, fruits and some roses. He humbly took us there on our way back to the hotel and we had a unique berry picking experience. We picked some pears too and tomatoes which went directly to our stomachs.

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Traveling is an awesome experience. But what's more awesome are the new people we meet and the old friends and relatives we reunite with. The views and the photos just come next.

So as promised, here again are 5 more tips to help traveling parents ease their experiences:

6. Bring your babies' medicines for emergencies. The change of weather might make them sick and you don't want to experiment on some other meds.

7. Carry their favorite toy to soothe them during long flights. Our daughter's stuff dog has been to more cities than my sister because he is already a staple for Khloe's bedtime.

8. Traveling al lot? A lightweight buggy is a must. It should fold easily and can be carried by one hand. It can also be maneuvered with one hand. When your baby is smaller, a carrier is also a lot of help especially when you need both hands in taking pictures. :)

9. The key to traveling with kids with ease lies in the packing. If you carry too much, you give yourself a hard time and your kids an awful experience. Pack the necessary only. Make a list. You don't have to have a different set of outfits everyday nor a different pair of shoes for each time you go out. This was a mistake I made. I packed 6 sets of pajamas for each kid and 6 sets of clothes plus extras. These tiny people occupied more luggage space than us. And they didn't wear all of them. So note to self, pack less. Children will not die if they will wear their clothes again unless they are super filthy.

10. Create a journal. In my case, I write this blog. Khloe already enjoys reading old blogs when they are about family or about her. And she loves to see the pictures again.

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So 5 more tips on the last installment of our London trip blog. :)


4 Days in London - MelRish Travel Diaries

Traveling to a new city every year is our family goal. Other people invest on big houses, luxury cars and jewelry. But for us, we try to invest on making memories and going on adventures. We try to teach our kids also to go out of their comfort zones and experience the world. The experience, the friends we make and sights we see are wealth which cannot be stolen from us.

Some people give up their dream to travel when they have kids especially little ones because they think it is difficult and expensive. It IS more difficult and more expensive than traveling alone or with a partner but I am giving a few tips at the end of each of this 3 part London blog on how we travel with our little ones.

August in London is hot but not as hot in Dubai. 26 degrees during the day and 14 degrees at night (average temperature while we're there). We checked in at Dolphin House because we got a good deal from Booking.com and we read they had great reviews from Tripadvisor. The staff were really friendly and accommodating. They gave us a cot and a high chair for Kurt. They also had courtyard garden at the back which is a treat. It is 5 mins walk from Pimlico Station and 10 mins walk from Victoria Station. We booked a studio and it was spacious. It had a kitchenette with kettle, fridge and a microwave but my mistake was I didn't double check if they had a stove. Don't ask me but Arish is very picky in food and would always look for freshly cooked rice. It is an Asian thing.

Here are a few photos of the hotel

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

 

 

London Travel photography
Flowers, flowers, flowers!

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

First thing we looked for was the nearest grocery store. There was a Sainsbury 10 mins walk away from the hotel. There was actually a small grocer in the hotel compound but it didn't have baby food for Kurt.

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

We took a hop on hop off bus tour from Golden Tours. They had a lot of buses and gave me a discount since we bought Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio tour and Stonehenge tour with them as well. Though when we took the orange route, they didn't have a lot of buses going that route so we had to wait 30 mins for the next bus.  It is a good way to see all the landmarks in one go.

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

 

 

London Travel photography
Westminster Abbey

 

London Travel photography
Oh hello, Big Ben

London Travel photography

London Travel photography
Flowers everywhere
London Travel photography
Nelson's Column

London Travel photography

London Travel photography
Artworks for sale at Hyde Park
London Travel photography
Marble Arch

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

 

London Travel photography
Covent Garden

London Travel photography

 

 

London Travel photography
Covent Garden - singers, jugglers and moving statues

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

 

London Travel photography
St.Paul's Cathedral

London Travel photography

 

London Travel photography
The London Bridge

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography

London Travel photography
The London Tower
London Travel photography
The London Eye

Here are my 15 tips if you are planning to travel as a family and you don't want to bust your kid's educational fund nor your retirement savings:

1. Save an amount monthly for travel. This can be a fixed amount or if you have extras, set this aside for travel.

2. Plan a year ahead on how much you will be spending on your travel. Check visa, airline and hotel prices. DOn't forget to use incognito windows when doing this as airline and hotel websites have tendencies to increase prices when you check back again. Based on your budget, choose the city you want to visit without spending beyond your budget.

3. When planning your daily expenses for that trip, double it. You will never know when you will need to get that taxi ride or if you want to buy that souvenir that you like.

4. Since we have little kids, eating in restaurants was not a daily plan. Number one, because they will rarely sit still and tantrums might erupt anytime. So choose a hotel where there will be a kitchen or kitchenette so you will have an option of home cooked meals. Also check if there will be a nearby grocery. This will save you money and your kids will have some more time to relax.

5. Hop on hop offs can save you money and energy when you have little kids. Underground was the cheapest and fastest way to go around London but with a buggy/stroller and kids in tow, up and down staircases will be tedious. Besides, they get to go on the buses for free...(well not when they are older).

Five more tips on my next post. And more photos!

 


The MelRish Studio - God's Amazing Gift

When things don't go our way, when you have faith, it is amazing how God reveals His plans and His plans are way better than ours. (Like these photos, who would think this place will be called home)

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

I took engineering in college (because I dreamed to be a rich engineer working in a tech company) but on my third year, failing several engineering subjects, I shifted to interior design (I had a passion for drawing and the arts) and graduated with a degree in it. Working in furniture companies, I thought and planned to work my up in a corporate ladder in a company in Makati and settle there. But then I got an offer to work abroad which I didn't consider at first because I don't know anyone in Dubai and I have never been far away from home before. After praying, God showed me signs to accept the offer. I got into a visual merchandising in a furniture company in Dubai. Years passed and after working in different companies, I have reached the position of Area Visual Merchandising Manager in an American furniture company. I should have stayed and enjoyed the perks of getting benefits and stable salary every month but God had a different plan...something more than I imagined.

I dreamt of marrying a Brazilian pilot hunk who speaks French (lol!) but God indeed has a better plan and I met this boy-next-door-type, Arish. Then we both discovered the love for photography and having a not-so-good experience with our own wedding photographers, we got into the business of wedding photography. More than a year ago, I left my visual merchandising career and focused on photography and looking back at all those years, if someone would ask my 20-something self years ago if I would want to be a photographer, I would say, I don't think so. But today, I am thankful of everything that I am and everything that we have. We are not rich in material stuff but with we are where God wanted us to be and it is a luxury basking in His goodness and grace.

Earlier this year, God has blessed us with a new home. Our studio to call our own. It has been a struggle getting it finished but finally it is ready to accept guests. I haven't furnished it completely the way I wanted (I still have to save for it - more prints on the walls, more album samples, more props and more backdrops), but we can already shoot projects here, sit here to edit and hold meetings. Families and friends, we gladly present one of the best gifts from God (drum roll please!) - the MelRish Studio. You are welcome to book your shoots (portraits, family photos, product shoots, fashion shoots, etc.), rent the space or just have a chat with us. We will happily welcome you. From today until 31st December, we have special introductory rates for shoots in our studio. Drop us an email or give us a call for these special rates.

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

 

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers
Our view from our window

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Dubai wedding and event photographers and videographers

Sometimes we think things don't go the way we want to or the way we plan it and we think we are a failure. But trust God and put your faith in Him and He will show you amazing things beyond your dreams.


One Day Trip to Amman, Jordan | Travel Photography

About two weeks ago, we flew to Amman, Jordan for a destination wedding. Surprisingly, the weather in Amman was very good. The wind was cool it was a fair 28 degress C during the afternoons. Too bad, we only had a one day trip to Amman.

One day trip to Amman

We arrived Friday evening and our wedding event was on Sunday. Ramzy Hajar, our airport pick up offered to tour us around Amman, Dead Sea, Jerash and Mount Nebo for the full day on Saturday for a fee less compared to the local travel agencies. He also spoke quite good English which was good for us.

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He first took us to the citadel where we took majority of our photos. It was very picturesque and you can see downtown Amman from there.

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The next stop was Jerash. Unfortunately, the sun was at its peak and it was quite a walk from the gate inside. A walk not recommended for pregnant women (like me) unless you have the whole afternoon to spare, you carry a picnic basket full of goodies and a gallon of water maybe. So our guide just drove around Jerash outside the fences so we will have an idea what was inside. I will definitely visit Jerash if we had one whole day for it. Here are some photos outside the gates.

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After Jerash, we went to drive to Dead Sea. The weather was not as cool as Amman. There was a bit of haze so it wasn't ideal to take photos as we thought. By this time, we were already dreaming of kebabs and hammous ala Jordan. So instead of going up to Mount Nebo, we decided to feast on the some kebabs instead back in Amman. We anyways bought souvenirs along the way and some figs. Believe it or not, it was the first time we ever ate figs. Ok here are some photos I took with my Iphone.

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Even though we didn't make to all the places listed in our itinerary, we were exhausted when we reached back in our hotel. Heritage House in Rainbow Street was our home during our stay in Jordan. It was very clean and very close to local restaurants and coffee shops. It also had a great view of Amman. We were able to witness the sunrise every morning. It is good for families and budget travelers like us who sometimes opt to cook our own food. Our hotel room had a kitchenette and appliances.

We would definitely go back to Amman and visit the infamous Petra and Jordan river next time and maybe have a swim in the Dead Sea.

Hopefully, we will be able to post some photos from the beautiful wedding we shot there!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Destination Wedding Photographers and Videographers | Amman, Jordan, Here we Come

Remember this photo we shot in Mumbai, India? This was shot on our way to Don Bosco Church near IC colony.

Destination wedding photographers and videographersDestination wedding photographers and videographers How about this? This has won us a place in one of AGWPJA's quarterly contests. We also shot this Mumbai, India for a Hindu wedding back in 2009.

Destination wedding photographers and videographers

These photos we shot in Manila, Philippines.

Destination wedding photographers and videographersDestination wedding photographers and videographers

In 2013, we were in Doha, Qatar for the wedding of Karen and Anthony.

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And we photographed this couple while strolling in Central Park, NYC.

Destination wedding photographers and videographers

While I type this, we are giddily preparing for our short trip to Amman, Jordan to shoot another destination wedding. I will be missing my little Khloe for almost three days...(to myself: it. is. just. three. days.) Hopefully we can share a few photos of Amman once we are back. If you are staying there and would like to give us tips and best places to wander about, drop us an email or comment below. We will highly appreciate it.

 MelRish Photos and Films are destination wedding photographers and videographers based in Dubai but they travel across the globe. If you have any queries about our destination wedding packages, drop us an email here.


A Trip to Tokyo | Travel by MelRish

Well we're back from a 2 month long blogging hiatus. ***Stretch***Yawn***Sigh*** It is really hard when sometimes you lack the words to express your thoughts or just the inspiration or energy to start typing. Hopefully this will jumpstart the rest of the year's blogging activities.

For the first week of May, we have flown to the Philippines to get together with family. After 2 years, we were finally home. The people were very warm and so was the weather - too warm and humid for our desert-dry bodies. We had a 1-day retreat to my cousin's farm in Tagaytay and it was a really relaxing getaway and only a few hours drive from Manila. Check out these photos, and if you decide to spend a few days here too, they rent out villas for you...this is their Facebook page

The main highlight from our 2 week trip was our Tokyo escapade. Tagging the kids and their grannies along, we headed to visit Tokyo Disneyland which was a treat for us too. Visiting Disneyland always brings out the children in us. Who wouldn't remember their childhood days when they see Mickey or Donald in person? And Khloe?...she was hunting for princesses! Unfortunately, we didn't prepare much for the chilly weather that met us there. So warm humid Manila and then windy chill Tokyo equals colds and flu.

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First stop was the Disney Sea. This is a very picturesque place. Shame we had to retire early because we were not dressed for the cold.

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Disney will always be magical! The next day, we checked out of Disneyland Hotel and checked in Disney Ambassador hotel and visited Disneyland. Tokyo Disneyland was much like Hong Kong Disneyland except that the best part for me was the light parade. We didn't see this one when we went to Hong Kong Disneyland 6 years ago.

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After 2 days in Tokyo Disneyland, we went to downtown Tokyo and stayed in Citadines Shinjuku. It was a really nice hotel with staff that speaks English (most places don't have English speaking staff so better brush up with your Nihonggo). It was near the metro and had Seven-Eleven and a few other groceries nearby. Cooking dinner in the hotel helped us save a lot of money. We just ate at the local restaurants for lunch which helped us get a taste of Tokyo.

Japanese loves their anime and most packaging and signs either include a cartoon drawing or had fun cartoon fonts. We strolled downtown and window shopped Harajuku and Takeshita Street. Before that, we went and visited the Meiji Shrine. Unfortunately, we were late to see the blooms.

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The next day, we went to Asakusa where you can buy Japanese souvenirs and take these photos! :) And on our final night, we toured Shibuya's shopping district and got a second hand LV for mom.

Trip to Tokyo
The lost bunch

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Travel blogs that do not have tips aren't helpful so here are a few things we learned from our trip

1. Staying in Tokyo is expensive...staying in Disney Hotels more. Get ready to splurge while in Disney. The Disney Ambassador Hotel was most convenient for us as there is a mall adjacent where you have a lot options to choose from

2. Take the metro to save money. Most tourist-y places in Tokyo are accessible by metro

3. To shop for Japanese fashion, checkout Harajuku and Takeshita Street. Sunday is a busy on these streets

4. Asakusa street is where you will get great souvenirs for your loved ones. You can haggle at some shops but most of them have fixed prices maybe unless you purchase in bulk

5. I love their sidewalks because they are wide enough to accommodate a bunch of us walking side by side. They are wide because most of the Japanese are eco-friendly and they like riding their bicycles. The streets are clean too even you do not see trash cans almost anywhere.

6. Keep to the left (or to the right?). Even for pedestrians, Japanese follow lanes on sidewalks, stairs, malls, etc. I really admire their discipline

7. My favorite is the Japanese toilet! I love how you just press the buttons and everything is automatic. The bottom was spoiled. And most toilets don't have tissues because again, they are eco-friendly and do not want you to waste all those toilet paper. Use the dryer!

 

Well that summarizes our 2 week getaway. It was fun and short-lived. Hope this post was helpful.

When we came back, you just can't imagine the workload that was facing us so please excuse us if we haven't blogged for some time. For the meantime, sayonara!


Dubai Festival of Lights | Dubai Events Photographer

Have you been to Dubai Downtown lately? Well if not yet, you better hurry up and catch the beautiful Dubai Festival of Lights. We had a save-a-date shoot with our couple Saturday evening along the Emaar Boulevard and we were mesmerized with all the colorful and funny light installations along the strip. So the next evening, I decided to take the little kid (Khloe) for a stroll.

Weather was great but we forgot to load the stroller in the car...(woops!) so by the time we finished from Burj Park and Burj Plaza, Khloe was begging me to carry her. Oh well, we still have until the 29th to see the rest of the installations. Meanwhile, here are some quick shots of some of them...

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Our Week - A Recap | Of Happiness, Answered Prayers and Shortbreaks

Since I resigned from my full time work, honestly, I am still yet to have my me-time. But for the meantime, I am glad to have spent a lot of time with Khloe, took a short break, sorted out our trade license and finally got the mini workstation up and running...all that while knocking off several things from our to-do list. I am just glad we took a short break and watched Mickey's Music Festival in Abu Dhabi and as a bonus, I get to catch up with a dear friend.

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We checked in at Yas Rotana hotel and got us a suite. They were fully booked and this was all that was left. But it was value for money and the Du Forum where the music festival was being held was just next door. Francess, our friend, with her cute daughter, Krix, took us to the Marina in Yas Island for dinner.

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The dinner was a quickie since the show was starting in 30 minutes. D'Alsace was a nice cozy restaurant and the beef cheeks I ordered was really tasty!

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Khloe found a BFF in Krix and they were inseparable to the point Khloe wanted to go home with them. :-P (Not yet little one, wait until you're 7 for a sleepover).

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I also registered with 100happydays (don't you love their sunny yellow website?!) well because I thought this is one challenge that will push me to look for things or people in everyday that makes me happy and sometime you don't have to look hard because it is staring you at the face, you just have to open your eyes. There is a lot and we often times overlook them. So this week, here are the things I am thankful for:

1. Our trade license is finally out

2. Getting to bring the family to watch Mickey Mouse and the gang live on stage

3. Catching up with a good friend

4. Getting stuff knocked off our to-do list

5. Setting up our home office

Cheers to many more happy days, answered prayers and shortbreaks! Happy weekend everyone!


Yee-Haw Texas!

I have realized that I haven't concluded our US trip post. Our last leg of the trip was in Houston Texas where my father and mother were staying. It was the relaxing part of our vacation as we pretended to be Texans but we of course stood out with our brown skin, button noses and black hair. And yes, with our Filipino accents.

We shopped at Wal-Mart, ate at Denny's, drove around with a GPS and watched American TV. We visited Texas Roadhouse to see if it was the same with our favorite Texas Roadhouse in Dubai and the answer is 99% yes.

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If one is in Houston, Texas, one must visit the NASA Space Center. It was interesting to see the beginnings of space travel.

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Don't worry, that ain't a real person floating inside the whole day.

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To Khloe's delight, we went to see the Children's Museum. To be honest, I found it more entertaining than the Space Center. Khloe enjoyed learning about science and playing pretend. It was like Kidzania except that she was allowed in all areas. They also a Superhero themed presentation in the auditorium.

The temperature was a bit high so we skipped checking the zoo out. Instead, we chilled out with a dinner at Cheesecake Factory in the Galleria.

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Texas may not the best state in America but it was definitely worth visiting especially when you have family there.

Family Trip to Houston Texas


One Day at the Capital | Washington DC Day trip

Let me pick up where we have left before I got distracted with redesigning our website and posting about a couple's portrait. Ramadan has started and so we have plenty of time after work to clear some backlog posts. Dubai is pretty much like a giant microwave oven with temperature rising up to 50 degrees this July-August. So we do not have a lot of wedding shoots. But we still cover a lot of events and birthdays which keeps us busy this month.

So after 4 days in New York, we decided that the nearest best state we can visit before flying to Houston was Washington. We heard a lot about Washington DC and watching the sequel to The Night at the Museum made the trip more interesting. We had a wonderful stay at the Sheraton Hotel in Pentagon City. They had shuttles every half hour to the metro which is connected to the main sites.

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Our day started with a visit to the Washington Memorial, the White House and Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Memorial was being resurrected after a plane crashed into it during the shoot for the "Olympus Has Fallen". :P (just kidding!)

Washington DC day trip

They are all walking distance away from each other so we finished the sight seeing by noon. By that time, we were famished and tired. Guess where our tummies led us...to China Town. Asians love rice and this was rice paradise!

Washington DC day trip

Full and tired, we decided to take a nap back in our hotel before heating to the Capitol Hill and the Smithsonian museums. But our hotel beds were to too comfy and cozy and we slept longer than expected. By the time we reach the museums, they were ready to close and did not accept visitors anymore. :( So we just went to Capitol hill and strolled in the Marion park watching people clean up "bones" (from an exhibit or something). Looked creepy though.

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We could have done more and seen more if we had more time. Darn that hotel bed! :) And guess what, we slept early that night too because we wanted to make the most of our spacious room and lovely view.

Washington DC day trip