I decided on Old Town Alexandria for the day. They had several special events with free admission to several places I was interested in touring. I caught the free King Street trolley and jumped off for the Friendship Firehouse. They were having a street fair out front. There are some interesting pieces of equipment here!
Next I rode the trolley down to the waterfront and back up to the visitor center at the Ramsay House. I grabbed a brochure and walked up the street to the Carlyle House Historic Park-another freebie for the day. I toured the second floor of the mansion, looked out on the beautiful gardens, and then wandered over to the bank building to hear a lecture on medical care of the late 18th century-particularly midwifery. It was a very enlightening presentation that I enjoyed immensely.
Next on my list was Gadsby's Tavern and Tavern Museum. I had planned on grabbing a bite to eat, but they were closed for a private event. I toured the museum and headed out to find something to eat. I ran across Bread & Chocolate on King Street and picked up a cheese danish-apparently they were 50% off (maybe due to the lateness of the day???). So I got a yummy little treat (croissant filled with cheese) and paid a pittance for it-BONUS!
I caught the trolley back to the metroline station. I greatfully took my seat-boy my feet hurt. When I arrived back at the original station, I called the hotel as directed. She indicated that the guy should be at the station right then, so I ran for the guy arms flailing (with four other guests). He looked at us and proceeded to drive off! I called to complain to the front desk and ask them to call him, but she told me we would just have to wait for the next shuttle in 30 minutes. The other family was livid-they had called and made arrangements for the pick up. He should have been expecting them. Well, needless to say there was no tip for the trip back.
The shuttle passed a Lebanese restaurant that appeared to be very well attended. I jumped in my car and drove back for some much needed nourishment. I ordered the lamb & beef shawerma platter with rice and salad and the very traditional mazza platter (hummus, babagannouge, tabbouleh, falafel, stuffed grape leave, kibbeh, and fattoush). The service was very prompt and friendly. Unfortunately the meat was dry, the rice was not very fresh, and the salad was watery. As for the mazza platter, the grape leaf was probably the best I have ever had (fresh), the hummus was kind of bland but mixed well with the dry rice, the babagannouge was very tart, the falafel was dry but good when dipped in either dip, the fattoush salad was tasty especially the little pieces of toasted pita that had soaked up the dressing, the kibbeh was divine, but the taboulleh was mainly parsley with scarcely any bulgur or other spices. Overall, it hit the spot but was definitely not the best Lebanese food I have had and the prices were not low for the quality and quantity.
Back in the room, I found it to be quite comfortable and very clean. The breakfast the next morning was unimpressive. I got a couple of bagels with cream cheese and a muffin that I fed to the birds. They did have waffles, but I was just not interested. I would have rather had some fresh fruit (not the canned fruit salad offered) and fruit juice.
ROUTE: VA 28 North> VA 7 South> Washington Metroline to Alexandria and back
Lodging: Comfort Inn Tysons Corner, VA
Labnan Zaman 8411 Old Courthouse Rd-Vienna, VA (703) 748-1400 http://lebnan-zaman.com/
Bread & Chocolate 611 King Street-Alexandria 703 548 0992 http://www.breadandchocolate.net
$$$: $66 Hotel $20 Meals $5 Metroline = $91