Alexandria getaway

An alternate title to this post could be: ‘The Travel Potty: Our Constant Companion.’

Andrew FINALLY got to travel for work, so we weren’t going to let being only three weeks into potty training stop us. (It does, however, slow you down a bit.)

Andrew’s conference was technically in Maryland, but we stayed at our favorite hotel in Old Town, The Alexandrian. It’s walkable to all the shops, restaurants, the waterfront, and even a playground. We’ve been four or fives times in the last couple years, including once while pregnant, almost exactly a year ago when coronavirus started, and once in the fall between those trips!

We love breakfast at La Madeleine!

We headed to Mount Vernon and spent the morning there, enjoying it through Maelle’s eyes. Her favorite memory is petting a sheep while it was peeing. (With potty training on the brain, no wonder it sticks out.)

Andrew and I both visited Mount Vernon as kids, so it was nostalgic to bring our daughter here and see her playing on the chairs on the veranda and walking in the grassy fields. It was a warm day, and we capped our visit with a lovely outdoor lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant.

Andrew and I sipped cold glasses of rosé with our fried green tomato BLTs and marveled at what a different experience this visit was, compared to how we traveled growing up. What used to be a must-follow-the-itinerary educational field trip and PB&J sandwiches out of the family cooler was now a leisurely stroll through the grounds, enjoying time together, followed by–gasp!–a gourmet meal. I know, we’re old and only have one kid…we’re bougey and we know it.

Later that evening, my parents met us here in Alexandria for dinner. It poured rain just after they arrived, but thankfully stopped before we were ready to head out. After dinner Maelle and Nana stomped in puddles down near the water! They had a blast together, and I deserve a MEDAL for not even flinching when her suede sneakers got soaked. (They did, however, take more than a day to dry out and I’d brought a pair of sandals as backup.)

The next morning was also rainy, so Maelle and I ducked across the street to have another breakfast at La Madeleine before shopping at our favorite kid’s consignment store, 529 Kids Consign. This was the first time I had to ride herd on Maelle AND shop, which was surprisingly difficult. Despite that–and an emergency potty break–I still managed to bag a decent haul, including a sweet floral REI raincoat for this fall. On previous trips, Maelle was either in my belly or a tiny baby, and I could shop in peace.

Before lunch, we blew bubbles in a little park near the water and Maelle enjoyed watching all the planes flying low overhead, coming in to land at Reagan Airport. She’s started waving at them and saying “Hi, Nana,” since her grandma is a flight attendant!

When we started potty training a month ago, this trip wasn’t on the books. I hadn’t planned on putting undies on her yet, but knew training pants would probably help while we were traveling. They have, and it was the right call.

I tried to keep my expectations low for this trip, knowing there would be times it would be hard to get to a potty quickly. However, Maelle really surprised me! She’s doing really well, especially with all the distractions, but I don’t have enough undies for a weeklong trip and no laundry service!

Once Andrew was finished with his conference for the day, we headed out to find dinner. We chose The Pita House, a Lebanese place, and loved it. The owner was incredibly personable and really made our experience memorable. He even offered to take our photo.

I’d forgotten how much work it is traveling with a small child! There is just so much to bring, the clean-up, the entertaining at meals, and now the frequent potty stops. It’s not always fun now, but I know all this ‘practicing’ will make each subsequent trip seem easier.

Maelle and I were on our own again the following day, so we started with breakfast at South Block, a smoothie-juice-toast place I really like. (Check out how I described it in this post from 2019 – ha!)

Afterward, we headed outside to play! Having joined Andrew on a handful of trips to Alexandria before, I’ve gotten familiar with Old Town and taken walks along the water. I remembered there was a playground not far and it was the perfect day for it!

After lunch and nap, Andrew finished up and we headed out to enjoy our last evening in Old Town. We stopped for ice cream, chased ducks at the park and did some souvenir shopping.

We ended our evening with dinner at Virtue Feed and Grain. The ambiance was great and everything on the menu looked delicious. Maelle loved the teriyaki chicken wings!

We headed home the next day, and thankfully got an early start. We grabbed Chewish Deli bagels on the way out of town, and even with some extra potty stops, still made it home before dinner. Even though we missed daddy during the day (and night, when he sequestered himself in the hotel business center to work!), it was a great ‘mini-getaway’ for all of us, especially after a year of being cooped up. Old Town is starting to feel a bit like ‘home away from home’ and we can’t wait to go back.

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