choose your own adventure

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After living in DC for a few years, it’s easy to keep going out to the same places. But sometimes you have to mix it up. A Choose Your Own Adventure night, to be exact.

Claire and I came up with a list of places we wanted to try and a few old favorites outside of our neighborhood. Then we organized everything into three phases: dinner, activity and a bar. We came up with clues for each place, and I wrote them on index cards.

We told the group where to meet at 7:00 p.m. to decide where we would eat.

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Dinner

The restaurant options included a mix of new and nostalgic places that we thought everyone would like and wouldn’t need a reservation for. We printed a map wrote a list of locations that represented the type of cuisine or theme and had the group guess the corresponding restaurants:

After a solid discussion about Texas, Mexico and Tex-Mex, we identified all of the places and each voted on where we wanted to go. We decided to head to… Japan! Or, Raku by the National Cathedral.

choose your own adventure - washington dc

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We also prepared a list of challenges to do throughout the night during each phase and in transit. The idea was to rotate through and each complete one in order until we finished the list, but sometimes we (*cough* most of us *cough*) ended up all completing the one at hand. At Raku, the challenge was: Text a friend from high school and express how much you value your friendship. Leave voicemail if the person does not pick up. Basically, we spread some love to our friends back home. Everyone can use some extra love, right?!

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Activity

After finishing dinner, I revealed the cards for the next group activity. Clues were all song lyrics or albums:

  • Quit playin’ games with my heart
  • They got a brand new dance (come on) / You gotta move your muscle
    • Shuffleboard at Buffalo Billiards (throwback to the time we were all on a shuffleboard team)
  • It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday / The regular crowd shuffles in
  • Red velvet, vanilla, chocolate in my life / I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean
    • Dessert at The CakeRoom (because eating cake obviously counts as an activity)
  • 21 (Adele)
  • Oh, I wanna dance (and sing) with somebody

I wrote the neighborhoods on the back of each card just in case they couldn’t guess it based on the songs, but the extra clue was only needed for Black Jack, where we ultimately decided to go. The result: a highly competitive game of bocce.

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The winning team:

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Congratulations to Claire, who completed this bar challenge: Hold eye contact with a guy across the bar for 10 seconds, then wink at him (if you can’t wink, blow a kiss). A+

Bar

For the last part of “Choose Your Own Adventure” night, we had to choose what bar to go to. The bar clues included a mix of riddles, memories and general hints:

  • Jack, will you accept this ____? (for Jack Rose — and the Bachelorette fans)
  • The name of this 14th street bar has two words. One of them is “bar.” How original. (Bar Pilar)
  • Kelsey went on a date here and dropped her drink. Ok, it “slid off the table.” (McClellan’s Retreat)
  • Retractable glass roof + views of U street. Kelsey and Beth reallllly know how to dance it out here. (Hawthorne)
  • Rooftop beer garden in Shaw. (Takoda)

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There was also a wild card with five new spots we hadn’t been to. If this card was chosen, we had to pick a number from one to five without knowing the list of options:

  1. Alfie’s
  2. Archipelago
  3. Columbia Room
  4. Quarter + Glory
  5. The Sovereign

We went with the wild card. The number four was chosen, so we headed to Quarter + Glory. It was a great choice since none of us had been there. It was also on 14th street, so it was a quick walk from Black Jack. The space is open yet cozy, and we all agreed it’s worth coming back to.

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The choices and challenges created a fun activity that encouraged us to explore new spots. Who knows what adventure we’ll choose next?

white house tour

white house tour - lesley siu

I went on a tour of the White House this week. After running by almost every day, it was a treat to finally step inside. The Blue Room, above, is often used by the President to receive guests. I love the French furniture, purchased by James Monroe after the fire of 1814.

white house tour - lesley siu

white house blue room

The Red Room has long been a favorite of the First Ladies.

white house red room - lesley siu

Blue, red, and… green! Very original names, of course.

white house green room - lesley siu

The state dining room can seat up to 130 guests. Future pasta night location?

white house state dining room

white house washington monument

white house tour - lesley siu

white house tour - lesley siu

link love

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The beautiful Giverny in France.

1. Happy Earth Day! I’m eager to go on an eco-tourism trip… Perhaps to Mexico to dive with sharks? (New York Times)

2. We might forget France and soon be familiar with the fashion scene in Kazakhstan. I love learning about trends in different countries, especially via Instagram. (Vogue)

3. Cindy Sherman has produced her first new photos in five (!) years. This time, she used a green screen to digitally add landscapes to her self portraits. Will one of my favorite photographers turn to film next? (New York Times)

4. Tech companies are creating opportunities in Africa. “Many sectors are crowded in developed markets, but wide open at the frontiers.” (Harvard Business Review)

5. “No one lives up to their name, but Prince actually did. We didn’t deserve him.” (Vulture)

blossom kite festival

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The National Cherry Blossom Festival is in full bloom. I wandered over to the Blossom Kite Festival, held on a perfectly windy day to celebrate 50 years of kite flying on the National Mall. Despite the fickle clouds making the lighting difficult to shoot in, it was quite magical.

monday blues

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Warm weather calls for a nighttime run around the monuments. I’ve been spending a lot of time outside, enjoying the scenes before the tourist season cherry blossoms arrive. Spring, I feel you.

15 places I traveled to in 2015

When work gives you extra vacation days, you take them. I was lucky to find affordable airfares and fortunate to have the flexibility to take time to travel. Six countries, two continents and 33 flights later, 2015 took me to some of my favorite destinations to date. My favorite trip? Solo traveling through Vietnam, where I perfected skills in dodging motorcycles, negotiating at markets and finding the best street food. It was a year of fulfilling travel adventures, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

1. Paris (twice)

The city I’ll travel to again and again and still be excited to return to every single time.

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2. Amsterdam

Wandering around the canals will never get old.

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3. Brussels

A city that feels like the European version of D.C. is even better at night.

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4. Ho Chi Minh City

A crazy and energizing city where it is 100 percent necessary to play Frogger in real life.

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5. Hoi An, Vietnam

My favorite place in Vietnam. Biking to An Bang Beach was a highlight of the trip.

Hoi An, Vietnam

6. Hanoi, Vietnam

A magical place where I discovered the French Quarter, Old Quarter, egg coffee and life-changing bun bo nam bo.

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7. Singapore

Clean and efficient, a bright city with a fascinating mix of cultures.

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8. Honolulu

Annual trip to the homeland.

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9. Haleiwa, Hawaii

Driving to the North Shore and around the island is one of my favorite things to do.

matsumoto shave ice

10. Charleston, South Carolina

The architecture. The history. The charm. The food!

charleston city market

11. London

Even in a quick 36-hour trip, there’s always time for tea.

tea in london

12. Reims, France

Santé to Veuve Clicquot for teaching me how to properly open a bottle of Champagne.

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13. Virginia

Just your average day trip to the vineyards with great friends.

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14. San Antonio, Texas

Congrats, grad!

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15. Washington, D.C.

Traveling and discovering new places within your city counts, too. There’s no place like home, right?

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