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Now that my time in New York has been fully recounted it’s time to switch gears a bit as Z and I spent last Thursday playing tourist closer to home.

While reading the paper over breakfast last week (yes, I’m an old woman), I saw an ad about a new exhibit at the International Spy Museum called, “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains.” Z is quite a Bond fan so I pointed it out. We both agreed the museum would be fun to go to, especially since we keep saying how we rarely take advantage of all the fun things DC has to offer despite living so close.

Since we already had plans to meet up with Jason for dinner in DC we decided to make an afternoon of it and do a museum date night…well, afternoon.

We took our chances and drove all the way downtown. Brave I know. Traffic wasn’t bad and parking, while not cheap, would have probably been equivalent to two peak metro passes and parking at the metro station. If nothing else it was far more convenient.

We arrived at the museum at 4, giving us 2.5 hours until dinner.

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Unfortunately cameras were not allowed in the museum itself so this is the only picture we walked away with, taken in the lobby.

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The museum itself was very interesting and consisted of a combination of interactive exhibits as well as historical artifacts.

When we first walked in we were given three minutes to select a “cover identity” from a display in the center of the room and memorize it. We were told we would be asked about it later…

I went with Alesandra Francero: 21…from Italy…traveling to Hanoi, Vietnam on business…a travel agent…staying for 30 days. Got it!

We watched an introductory video before heading in to the exhibit space. Right upon entering we were quizzed on our cover identities through a touchscreen exhibit. As a spy you have to know all the details of your story or else your cover could be blown! I’m proud to say I passed…all details remembered.

We spent the next two hours wondering around the museum which is broken up into the following exhibits:

  • Covers & Legends
  • School for Spies
  • The Secrete History of History
  • From Ballroom to Battlefield
  • Spies Among Us
  • The 21st Century

I learned that spys aren’t just something from the movies. They are specially trained individuals who have played a role in many events in history.

I was fascinated by the artifacts on display: cameras built in to the coat buttons, weapons disguised as a tube of lipstick, hidden compartments in the heel of shoes used to carry documents (just to name a few).

Our tour ended at the Bond exhibit. I think I’ve only ever seen one Bond movie so most of it was lost on me, but Z seemed to enjoy it.

It was a uniquely interesting museum. The fact that we went at 4pm on a Thursday meant no hoards of school children to contend with. That would be my biggest advice, especially with all the interactive exhibits. No waiting!

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It was then time to meet up with Jason. The restaurant was a few blocks away so we got a chance to take in the scenery. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to DC and Z and I both agreed that we like the feel of it:  historical meets classy.

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Jason had provided us with multiple suggestions for dinner and after perusing the menus online I went with The Hamilton.

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The restaurant is in a historic building and is HUGE. We walked through a highly crowded bar area only to be taken through two other large dining rooms before finally arriving at ours, what I like to call “The Bird Room.”

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The dinner options were plentiful. Everything from burgers and sandwiches to more elaborate entrees.

I went with the salad that had caught my eye while looking online.

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They even listed the perfectly paired wine right underneath! How helpful! I simply had to try it. It turns out they were right, a nice compliment.

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The salad was amazing. Peppery arugula with sweet apples and cranberries topped off with crunchy walnuts and creamy blue cheese. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Z went with the salmon burger which came topped with a miso mayo and cucumber slaw on a multi-grain bun. I had a taste and it was fantastic.

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Actually it was my first time having a salmon burger. Why didn’t anyone tell me how good they were?!

While the food and the atmosphere were great, so was the company. We had fun catching up with Jason who, in typical fashion, is already planning his next trip abroad. Argentina in the spring, perhaps?

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I would certainly recommend this restaurant and can’t wait to try out some of the others that Jason suggested. I foresee more DC dates in the future.

Question of the day: Are you a Bond movie fan? If so, which actor played 007 best?

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