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The Madison, Washington DC. Hotel Review.

Posted by MWPA on May 13, 2009

Hotel-004

This past weekend Will and I took a weekend break to Washington DC. We wanted to do three things while we were in the city, visit the Spy Museum, the Smithsonian Zoo and relax.

We didn’t want to spend a lot on our hotel, but we still wanted a little bit of luxury so we looked on Hotwire.com for hotels in the middle of Washington DC. Hotwire.com is a website that allows hotels that have rooms sitting empty and not making money to be sold at extremely low prices, to help the hotel keep their bookings up. The website does not advertise the hotels names, just the price, star rating and facilities at the hotel. To find a hotel all you have to do is type in the name of the city and select the dates you would like to visit, and a list of hotels will appear. Hotwire.com gives the star rating and the facilities inside the hotel, also the area where the hotel is located, so if you do a  bit of searching on the Internet you an get a rough idea of which hotel you are looking at. we used betterbidding.com to help us locate which hotel we would be staying in before making our booking.

We chose a hotel in DuPont Circle, it was a four and a half star hotel and it was said to be The Madison. So we took the plunge and booked the room, once the booking was complete hotwire.com confirms your hotel name and where it is located, ours was as we had hoped-The Madison.

HotelOur journey to the hotel was mainly hassle free, we had a little bit of a problem with the Tom Tom once we actually got to into Washington DC city center, it was getting muddled with the distances between streets so we missed a couple of turnings, which was irritating. The hotel was easy to spot, it was right on the corner of 15th street, we pulled into the parking garage and were greeted by the valet parking men, who told us to get out and they would park the car. There was no option for us to park the car, which I am assuming is because the parking lot was small and and cars were double parked . The car was taken down under the hotel, and we were shown into the hotel to the reception desk, with our bags carried for us. I have no problem with valet parking, it makes things easier we just called down to the front desk when we wanted our car and it would be waiting for us by the time we made our way down to the elevator. The cost of using the hotels parking was a little excessive at $40 a day but I think in the end for the ease of having your car right near you it was worth it.

After getting to the reception desk we had a very nice lady help us, she asked us how our day was going, and Will told her it was stressful with the last part of the drive, and she replied she was sorry to hear that and that she would upgrade us to a luxury room for free, she made a point of saying it would be on the 12th floor away from the elevator so it would be nice and quiet…which it was! The upgraded room even had a massage chair in it. The hotel normally charges $339 for this room per night. By booking through Hotwire we were able to stay in the room for $109 a night. The receptionist was able to recommend a couple of places to eat and she gave us a couple of maps of Washington DC maps so we could find our way around the city.

Hotel-002The Madison is an older hotel, and could do with a little bit of fine tuning, I am glad we did not pay the full Madison advertised price for our room, as we would have been disappointed. The carpets were old and worn in places, there were marks on the wall and the light switches were discolored, which I was quite surprised about considering this is a 4.5 star hotel. The bathroom was also a little bit disappointing, it was extremely small, which I put down to it being an older hotel. The bathroom had poor ventilation and became heavily steamed up. It did have a shower and and a tub, the shower was powerful although positioned in a slightly awkward off center way. One of the nice things about the bathroom was the heated towel rack, which gave us snugly warm big towels once we were done with the shower.

We had a 32 inch LCD tv with a good selection of channels, although no DVD player. The bed was positioned opposite the tv and it was one of the most comfortable beds I have ever lay down upon, the bedding was soft and the bed was big and comfortable The hotel also provided robes which were soft and snugly too. Having digital thermostat was great, we were able to keep the air conditioning nice and cold.

There was a nice selection of complimentary coffee with a coffee maker, but that was the only ‘free’ thing in our room, even the bottle of water they had placed next to the coffee was $6.50! we found a small CVS pharmacy around the corner from the hotel and bought our drinks from there and kept them next to the air vent so they would stay cool. we had a mini bar in our room, which had a nice selection of drinks and snacks, but we chose not to spend our money on those.  There was a gym and business center on the second floor along with a spar, the gym was nicely equipped and had a sauna and steam room. the business center looked good, the first 30 minutes of Internet usage was free, after the 30 minutes was up you had to pay extra.

The hotel was in a great location, were were a 15minute walk from the white house, a five minute walk from the metro and small shopping and dining area. I would recommend this hotel to others so long as you were not paying the full Madison price for your rooms. Every person who worked at The Madison that we encountered was very friendly and helpful.

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A New Lens…

Posted by MWPA on April 14, 2009

003So I have been saving and saving and saving my pennies so that I could buy a new camera lens. The lens I chose was the 17-40L, it is a wider lens, so I can fit more in my photograph with out backing all the way up.  My first day of testing it came up showed this lens is of very nice quality and between me my camera and the lens we produced some awesome photographs that were vibrant and sharp. (click the photo to see the album with more photos from this day out!)

Rachel Clare Photography the website is also growing so be sure to check it out: http://rachelclarephotography.com/

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Today is…

Posted by MWPA on January 22, 2009

Abstract natureA house work day, I have decided I want to spring clean-even though its not quite spring yet. I want to rearange the craft room, to utalise the space in there, as it is a small room , and with all my junk in it, it feels alot smaller! If I get all the spring cleaning doe, I am going to go to the dollar store and see if I can pick up some valentine day props for my photography prject and maybe stop in at the craft store next door and buy some fabrics for back grounds.

Its quite a cold day today, although not as cold as it was last night,the sun is shining, which makes it feel a tiny bit warmer than it really is. I am looking forward to the spring weather, when I can go out side with just a hoodie and jeans on, and be plenty warm enough taking pictures-right now, my hands may freeze to the camera when I am outside!

Todays picture was taken a couple of weeks ago at Sandy Bottom Nature Park I focused on the branches and let the water go out of focus-this kind of out of focus is called Bokeh. The lighter spots are the suns reflection on the water, I like how the branches have a tiny bit of light high lighting them.

Well I supose I must stop wasting ime by blogging and get to work on this cleaning frenzie that is going to be done, I am going to turn the music up loud, sing and dance while I clean!

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Vacation Time

Posted by MWPA on August 28, 2008

Well as many of you know my parents and sister are visiting Will and I in Virginia, They arrived Tuesday evening and will be heading to Washington DC on Monday to catch their flight back to England.

Yesterday was our first full day with them and we tried to do some fun stuff even though the weather was gray and nasty, we went to Newport News Park and then to WIlliamsburg to visit the Yankee Candle Store – which is huge! and then to the Prime outlet mall where I bought a tshirt some sneakers and Will bought a couple of things in the Timberland store.

While walking in Newport News park not even 15 minutes into our walk I really had to use the restroom, of course there was no restroom nearby, and to get to one would involve walking back to the car-which only my dad could drive-due to the rental agreement and everyone was moaning at me, so I ended up finding a secluded spot and using it, which was extremely embarrassing! I cant remember the last time I had to do that…

While walking we stopped often to take pictures and a few times we caught glances of the wildlife, Will was walking ahead and told us to be quiet as there were a small herd of deer grazing, after they saw us they ran , but didn’t run to far and I was able to sneak up and get some pictures, they were about 50 meters away.

Click image for full size!

Canon 30d with the Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro Lens, mode set to manual F/5.0, 1/125seconds with ISO set to 640, focal length 168.

For post processing I applied a high pass layer set to soft light and reduced the noise on a separate layer with a reduced opacity. This image is also cropped.

I have other photos to add from the trip to the park, but Ill do that later.

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All I Want To Do

Posted by MWPA on July 3, 2008

I am really liking this song by Sugarland, its called All I want to do.

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Busy As A Bumble Bee

Posted by MWPA on May 4, 2008

This Week has gone by extremely fast, I cant believe Its Sharon’s last day with us tomorrow. We have had a very full week getting out and seeing the sights.

Sunday I took her to a few local stores, it was her first day here so she was adjusting to the time difference, so we took it easy.

Monday was horrible weather so we went to Williamsburg, to a big outlet mall. This was my first interstate driving, it wasn’t bad although we did get lost on the way, and missed one turning on the way back.

Tuesday was nicer weather although there was alot of cloud, I took Sharon, along with Ember (who we picked up from her house and we got lost finding it) to Sandy Bottom Nature Park. We walked around the lake and took lots of pictures.

Wednesday was a BIG driving day, we clocked up a lot of miles driving all the way to the beach (Sharon on the beach is this second picture). We did manage to take a detour on the way to the beach, i took a wrong exit, but I knew where we were, so it doesnt count as being lost.

Thursday was a slow day, we had to wait around to find out if we were going to be able to get our truck back from being fixed, as we could have guessed it ended up not being ready, so we drove with Will to Norfolk, so he could go to physical therapy and we could go to the Mall.

Friday the weather was absolutly beautiful. We drove down to Norfolk Botanical Gardens, It was lovely and hot with a slight cool breeze, which kept us from over heating. The Botanical Gardens are nice and I’ll most likely go back there. on our way back from the Botanical Gardens we hit very bad traffic so we took a little detour and went to the zoo, Virginia Zoo is small but inexpensive. The meerkats they have there were really cute!

Saturday, today, it was really hot again, not such a refreshing breeze and well into the 80’s we went to Colonial Williamsburg. I got a little sun burnt and tried to stay in the shade as it was sooooo warm, we watched a lot of  the re-enactment and had a great day.

Sharon leaves on Sunday, and I think she has had a good time, We are both quite warn out from all this touristy stuff. I have lots of photos to look through and edit, and I feel like I have learnt quite a bit with all this practice.

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Am I Borring You Yet???

Posted by MWPA on April 18, 2008

Today I visited St Lukes Historic Church in Smithfield Virginia. I went with a couple of volunteers I work with at The Cat Corner who also like taking pictures

I had alot of fun experimenting with taking pictures. I have come the conclusion that i need a wider lens, so I guess that will be my next big purchase (just don’t tell Will yet)

Here are a couple of the Church, which is the oldest reaming English built church in America.

My favourite of the pictures from inside the church is this one:

I Asked Ember to pose for me in the church grounds so I could get a bit of practice with portraits, I also used a few different editting techniques.

And then this is my favourite picture from the day.

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My First Baseball Game

Posted by MWPA on April 7, 2008

This weekend I went with Will to my first ever baseball game, it was rather slow paced game, with plenty of time to chat while you wait for a player to smack the ball into the distance.

I prefer watching faster sports like the Ice Hockey, there is much more going on and to watch, and deffinatly more action.

Baseball

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The Bank and the Aquarium

Posted by MWPA on March 20, 2008

Well we went to the bank during Wills lunch hour and were told we would be able to open an account with the documents I had brought along. Tthe bank was had just one person who was available for account opening and they were busy, unfortunately they were still busy after 40 minutes of us waiting, so we had to leave, so I still don’t have a bank account!

Today I went to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Center, you will be able to see my review for that soon. I took a few pictures at the aquarium, but its so hard when taking pictures through dark glass, it was trial and error working out how to get the best shots.

I started by using my lens hood on my camera and pressing it right up against the class to minimise reflections, this worked to some extent, the flash seemed to bright or to dark, it seemed impossible to get good lighting, eventually I decided to slow my shutter speed so i could let lots of light into the picture without using the flash, the problem with this is movement becomes very blurred, so the camera must be held very still and your subject mustn move, of course fish don’t understand that they are being photographed so to counteract there movement I moved the camera with the fish. Panning seemed to work, it was hard getting the exact speed right, but I managed to get a couple of good photos.

After the aquarium we went briefly to the beach front, although it was a beautiful hot sunny day it was extremely windy, so the trip to the beach was very short, I just took a few pictures and left.

Once back home I realised I had a headache-probably because I didn’t drink enough while out and about, so I had a little nap. Will came home and we had dinner, my headache worsened and I felt sick too, so I went to lay down again, it was early in the evening and I didn’t want to sleep, but of course I fell asleep, and at 10.30 I woke up, which is why I am here writing a blog at 2.25 in the morning.

I think I shall head to bed now otherwise I wont be able to get up in the morning, and I need to because I need to write a few articles.

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A Little Bit of Sightseeing at the Cape Henry Lighthouses

Posted by MWPA on February 26, 2008


Will and I visited The Cape Henry Lighthouses, the original Cape Henry Lighthouse was constructed in 1772 to act as a beacon for the boats sailing from the Atlantic ocean into the Chesapeake bay which leads up to many busy ports, such as Norfolk, Baltimore and Washington.

After nearly 100 years of guiding ships an inspector found the light house to be unsafe, the wooden staircase had become saturated in oil used to keep the light burning and cracks had appeared in the walls, so in 1881 the New Cape Henry Lighthouse was completed, this was constructed of cast iron instead of the stone that the original had used. The new light house is operated by the coast guard and is still used today.

The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is now a tourist attraction on the Fort Story Army Base, with a quick inspection of your vehicle and once you have shown valid identification, you can enter the army base to take a tour of the old light house.

Here are the pictures we snapped while visiting




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