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A city, a district that is rich in history, people, and endless things to do whether you’re a history buff or not. The streets are cobblestone, homes are rows upon rows of…row homes, and culture & diversity are abundant. I had never been to this busy, trendy, yet historic city before, but I am extremely glad I was able to visit our nation’s capital. A friend and I decided spontaneously on February 14, Valentine’s Day, that we were going to go visit a mutual friend who was interning at the National Rural Health Institute this summer. Boy am I glad we did. I learned quite a bit about our country in our short few days at our nation’s capital. With this, I took away a few things that may help you if you decide to visit this beautiful place.


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morning MARC train

ONE: FLY INTO BWI

Flying into Washington, DC from ND was not the most cost-effective option, but flying into Baltimore was MUCH better (not to mention the usage of SkyMiles). Regardless, if you want to visit DC, I recommend looking for tickets for Baltimore-Washington International airport and then taking the $8 MARC train into DC from the airport. If you have the luck I had, it will probably be much more affordable than flying into Reagan.

TWO: METRO

Like most big cities, taking the subway/metro/tube/ ETC is probably your best bet of getting from destination A –> B in terms of cost, time, and experience. Navigating the Metro is easy, in fact, the most difficult thing you might have to do is change trains to get to your final destination. Riding the Metro is what the people of that city do every day. Sure, you’re a tourist and just visiting, and yep, you probably look like one too, but you’ll get to see what the locals do as well as feel the vibes of the city.

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food truck burrito bowl with kimchi 

THREE: FOOD TRUCKS

Like most big cities, one could argue that everything is expensive in DC. This includes food. But on Urban Street, you’ll find an abundance of food trucks. Food truck food tends to be less expensive than dining in, and it’s usually fresh. We ate on Urban Street twice – the first time I got a chicken burrito bowl with kimchi, and the second, rice and garlic ginger spinach, broccoli, and cabbage. Each of my meals were between $7-8, were huge portions, and very, very, very delicious.

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basement air b+b

FOUR: AIR B&B

I’m sure that not everyone’s experience with Air B&B is amazing, but we could not have been more satisfied with our stay. This is an affordable option for travelers that gives you something hotels don’t: being in a neighborhood. With residents of that neighborhood. Ours was in the basement of a red row home, included wifi, metro cards, and bike passes. On top of this, we were in the middle of a beautiful historic neighborhood staying amongst the locals. If you’re interested in our exact spot, (which I totally recommend), click here.

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tourist?

FIVE: NATIONAL MALL

Do your research ahead of time on which monuments and museums you would like to see while you’re visiting the area. I was in DC for 4 full days, saw plenty, and didn’t see even more. If you weren’t previously informed, the monuments and museums are all free admission. Hell yes. We made it to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (get your free tickets ahead of time!), the Museum of Natural History, the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. Absolutely beautiful and so very beautifully American.

My favorites? 

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espresso + vanilla w/ dark chocolate
  • Gelato at Pitango nearly nightly; the espresso flavor is to die for.
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my favorite exhibit.

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  • The Food exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It displays the different changes in our country’s food system throughout the years including cooking devices like the George Foreman grill, as well as the evolution of the government-issued food pyramids over across history.

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  • The shops in Georgetown as well as Georgetown Cupcakes. It’s a must.

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  • George Washington University’s Medical Campus and seeing the emergency department where Ronald Reagan was taken after being shot (and saved), in the 1980s.
  • The Lincoln Memorial – it’s HUGE, dare I say monumental. 😉 Way bigger than I had pictured in my 8th grade US History class.

As mentioned previously, you cannot leave this city saying you’ve “done it all.” It’s not possible. The key is to get the most out of your experience. 🙂  If you’re heading to our nation’s capital for vacation or a conference, I hope this helps you get the most out of it.

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Cheers, and happy travels!

xx,

M

 

Hello, everyone! This past week has been wonderful. I have hardly thought about school, and as much as I love learning, stepping away for a few days has been the best thing I could ask for. Now that I’m recharged, I am ready to finished my 6th semester of undergrad, strong. 🙂

So where was I?

When asked what my plans were for spring break, and being told I was flying to Las Vegas, I got the common response of “VEEEEGAAAAS!” Yes, Vegas is known for being “Sin City,” but coming here for the second time with one of my best friends, we had different plans. Last year, we walked all over the strip and discovered places we wanted to return to, and others we wanted to explore even more and that’s exactly what we did! Want to know how I did Vegas? Or if you are interested in all the food? Keep reading!

DAY ONE:

Before getting here, Koryn & I FaceTimed for over two hours the night before deciding what we should bring with. The weather forecast giving us some foreshadowing to a gorgeous week. The entire week here was predicted to be in the mid-80s and not a cloud in the sky. Boy did we luck out – it’s March, people. The majority of our packing lists included swimsuits, shorts, tank tops, and sundresses. We did well.

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not bad!

When we landed and got checked into our resort around dinner time, we hit the pool as soon as we could (don’t worry, we wore sunscreen). After feeling like we hit heaven prematurely, we headed to our favorite restaurant from last time, Buddy V’s. It’s located in the Venetian (an Italian-themed resort), and has many options for meals. I enjoyed Madeline’s Whole Wheat pasta with veggies. One thing I wish we had realized when we made our reservation is just how long it would take us to walk to the Venetian from the Monte Carlo (we were nearly late for our dinner reservation, but trust me, it was worth the fast-paced walk). Another thing to note about Buddy’s is the croutons. Koryn & I shared a caesar salad so we could reminisce on the warm, risotto croutons.

 

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koryn’s photo, her credit 🙂

Find it H E R E:

https://www.venetian.com/restaurants/buddy-v-ristorante.html

After dinner, we walked to the Bellagio to explore before getting on the tram. To our surprise, we found a gelato shop ran by an Italian family at Cafe Gelato. My friend Koryn got cappuccino gelato and I got pistachio. It reminded me of the endless amount of gelato I had whilst in Italy myself…

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pistachio heaven

Find gelato H E R E!

https://www.bellagio.com/en/restaurants/quick-eats.html#/Cafe%20Gelato

DAY TWO: 

It was one of the best Mondays I’ve had in a long time. We woke up and hit the gym for a quick workout before we stocked up on fruits & veggies at the grocery store. It was 85 degrees before noon so we took advantage of the pool. Can we just take a second to reflect on how amazing the sun feels when you live in North Dakota? Ok. Anyway. After getting cleaned up, Koryn and I headed back to the strip and explored some more resorts and walked the strip (outside). New York New York is like walking through just a smaller version of the Big Apple, so I’ve been told.

The restaurants within the building feel as if you’re outside; restaurants that emulate street food, American food, and many places to find shakes for dessert. Koryn and I couldn’t decide where to eat this time! We tried Broadway Bar & Grill and sat in what felt like a patio. We shared a salad, mozzarella triangles, and fresh cut french fries. Healthy or nutrient dense? Nope.  But what about dessert? Neither of us had been to Shake Shack so we gave that a whirl. Zero regrets.

DAY THREE:

Another 85+ degree day spent by the pool in the morning with SPF of 50 and not a cloud in the sky. No sunburns, minimal tan lines we are in great shape. Let me take a second to talk here. Koryn and I got to nerd out a little this Tuesday. Within the Luxor resort is where you can find the Bodies exhibit. Being both of us have taken gross anatomy and lab, we have experienced the marvels of the human body and been fascinated each time we walked out of class. Bodies was a briefer version of our previous knowledge, however, our minds were blown away when we got to the embryonic section of the exhibit.

There were various embryos beginning at 4 weeks of life all the way up to 24 weeks. Each embryo showed immense progression of developmental features of the fetus and the bones and cartilage were specifically preserved to portray the development. The embryo at 8 weeks was smiling. We were mind-blown!

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a book review to come 🙂

After we had our fair-share of anatomy for the day, we walked back to the Monte Carlo for dinner – 800 degrees pizza. I’m sure many of you have had wood fired pizza, but this stuff is amazing. The ingredients are fresh and their specialty pizzas are something I could rave about.

Many of you know that I don’t choose to eat pizza unless it’s really good, and if you’re with me, it’s worth it. 🙂 I got the Bucca, which is a rosemary base, grilled onions, butternut squash, bacon, mozzarella, and I asked for fresh basil. I had plenty of leftover pizza for lunch the next day! 

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I wish you could at least smell this pizza.

After finishing dinner, and feeling spontaneous, Koryn & I decided to check out the Cosmo. We discovered how gorgeous the inside of the resort is during spring break last year, but just walked around in awe. This time, immediately, we found The Juice Standard, a fresh-pressed juice shop that makes juice, smoothies, and has plenty of other vegan options. I had done my research on where to find an acai bowl in Vegas, only having seen them on my fellow food bloggers’ Instagram feeds. We got to sample a few different juices and Koryn decided on the “Bee Royal” consisting of apple, lemon, and extra ginger. I got an acai smoothie with granola, coconut flakes, banana, pumpkin seeds,cashews, and more smoothie than I have ever had before.

 

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you know a smoothie is good when it’s served with a straw and a spoon.

Find The Juice Standard here:

 http://www.juicestandard.com

We enjoyed our treats in the Cosmo itself, but noticed there was an escalator going upward, so up we went! We found a rooftop pool proceeded by “are you two here fore the event?” “uhhhhh, no…” So for for a short, unintentional time, we discovered one of the views of the Strip from the pool at the Cosmo. We can only wonder what the event was!

We got on the early shuttle back to our resort and came to realize it was still in the mid-70s. We spent about an hour in the hot tub, and walked back up to our room. Koryn fell asleep at 9, and I fell asleep at 10. Yes, you read that right. We’re still unsure of how this transpired, but that’s ok. This trip was about feeling refreshed!

DAY FOUR: 

Another day in the sun with fruit for breakfast and not a cloud in the sky. Before we headed for the pool this time, we took about a mile and a half walk to Dunkin Donuts, yes, I know they’re everywhere. But guess what? They’re not in North Dakota so it’s a treat 🙂

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We spent some more time in the sun, still reapplying high SPF sunscreen, and enjoyed every second of not thinking about responsibility. Once we got cleaned up for the day, Koryn and I wanted to hit a few of the stores on the strip. Fashion Show Mall is located north of Caesar’s Palace and is, well, how Vegas does everything, huge. After a long evening of hitting the shops, we had salads in Caesar’s Place on our way back to our resort. I had a grilled Chinese chopped chicken salad with cashews, cabbage, grilled chicken, and microgreens on top.

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salads are the best when they don’t consist of lettuce alone. 🙂

Wait, I forgot. On our way past Caesar’s Palace, in the front entrance of the mall was a Pressed Juicery stand. Seeing my Instagram friends in California rave about this juice, I tried two different kinds – Greens 2 & Vanilla Almond. No wonder everyone loves these.

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a great way to get some greens in while away.

Koryn and I finished dinner and headed back to our ride back to our dessert, but we wanted to check out the creamery within the Monte Carlo. We sprinted back from the tram at Bellagio to make it, but it was closed. We were sad over ice cream… there’s always tomorrow. 🙂

 

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The Juice Standard

DAY FIVE:

Our last full day here in sunny Nevada. Koryn and I made breakfast and enjoyed the sun until mid-afternoon before getting ready to head back to the Strip for the last time. I had been looking for a place that serves poke (in Japanese, “to cut”). For those that don’t know, poke is basically deconstructed sushi. I got salmon, cucumber, avocado, spinach, crushed peanuts, and eel sauce.

 

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my Hawaiian friends were right about this one 😀

 

http://pou-kei.com – check it out!

Koryn and I walked to Caesar’s to do some more shopping and at the end of the day, we returned to the creamery that had closed on us the night before. Koryn & I shared a cookie ice cream sandwich as an honorary last hoorah. Nice work, Vegas.

 

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again, zero regrets!

To our dismay, we ended the day by packing up our belongings (and hoping they don’t exceed the 40 lb weight limit) for our flight the following day.

DAY SIX: 

Our final day in the sun. This time, we were blessed with a mid-day flight to enjoy a little more time by the pool before checking out. And off the the airport- just like that, spring break 2017. If you were wondering, my bag weighed 39.5 lbs, and Koryn’s weighed 40.0. St. Patrick was on our side today 😉

This trip was relaxing and refreshing – exactly what college students need in the middle of the semester. I am so happy to get home to Stella in my own bed. Tomorrow will be full of meal-prep, a kick-a** workout, and a lot of histology. Who is with me?

Hope everyone’s spring break was as delicious as mine!

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Vegas, we’ll be back!

 

xx,

M