“Ms Siarra Goes to Washington” – Does brunch and comes back $10 richer!

pinterest pin, collage shot, top left brunch meal, top right woman drinking apple cider, bottom left outside shot of casino doors, bottom right large pink artistic display, brunch, spioaertriac
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Let’s Do Brunch!

picture of a marina for brunch cruise, spioaertriac
Wharf Gangplank Marina

As a kid, I didn’t really like brunch. Typically brunch meant we ate later than my growling stomach wanted to, and it pushed back when I could eat lunch. Besides, who wanted to eat breakfast at lunchtime? Now? I recognize that brunches have become a status symbol in certain circles. I love brunch. For me, brunch represents relaxation, cheat meals galore, and mimosas–even though, I don’t drink, I love the image of the orange beverage in a champagne flute. Brunch also represents, I can’t deny, wealth. Which makes me laugh because I’m not wealthy. But brunch always reminds me of the CW show, Gossip Girl. Felt like the Van der Woodsens and Waldorfs did brunch every Sunday, just because.

So day two, Noria took me to Gangplant Marina across from the District Wharf to enjoy a bottomless mimosa brunch cruise aboard the DC Odyssey. Quick facts: Odyssey DC is part of Entertainment cruises, responsible for some of the best upscale cruises in the country. Initially located in Chicago, Odyssey branched out to Boston Harbor and finally DC in 1995.  DC also hosts upscale cruises on Spirit, and Elite private yachts (so above my level…). Just in case brunch isn’t quite your thing, Odyssey also features a lunch and a dinner cruise.

Although DC first enlightened me on the joys of brunch, Los Angeles first turned me on to the beauty of brunch cruises. About two years ago, I visited Southern California for a friend’s wedding. I turned the trip into a mini vacation (with none other than my friend, Noria!) and ventured into the city of angels for a lovely, luxurious cruise on the Hornblower out of Marina Del Ray. Definitely recommend!!

But back in DC. Joined by the beautiful Ileana, the three of us walked onto a beautifully lit deck filled with food that made my insides dance in anticipation. After all, the cruise provided my second day of cheat meals.

front of Odyssey cruise ship, brunch, spioaertriac close shot of the Odyssey cruise ship, brunch, spioaertriac blue windows of brunch cruise ship

inner deck of brunch cruise ship
Marin Room
private deck of cruise ship, brunch, spioaertriac
Marin Room, into the Carneros Room

The DC Odyssey is a European-style glass ship with three indoor decks (San Mateo Rm and Bar, Marin Room–where we sat–and the Cameros room. The first two held a full bar and dance floor. On the two main decks, food spread out for both breakfast and lunch, bright, colorful, smoke and steam curling seductively upwards. In less than two minutes, passengers packed the buffet area piling their plates high with waffles, fruit, salmon, even cheesecake!

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Other than the piece at RTs, I hadn’t had bread in nearly a month–if you remember, my first cheat meal only had butter and rice, not piles of carbs–so I smiled wide at the waffle I plopped on my plate. And the food did not disappoint! I had to make myself not grab seconds or thirds. I promise that waffle had the secret of life, love, and happiness inside its dough. The bread had something crunchy and sweet sprinkled over it (my guess is sugar!) that made the taste an instant shot in a body that hadn’t had pure sugar in 27 days.

waffle, sausage, eggs, potatoes, brunch, spioaertriac

woman eating brunch, spioaertriac
Shot with iPhone 7 by Ileana–I’m officially a believer in the iPhone after this shot!
woman drinking cider during brunch, spioaertriac
Also shot in Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 by Ileana. I’m drinking sparkling apple cider. So GOOD!

water and apple cider in champagne flutes, brunch, spioaertriac cheesecake on a playe, brunch, spioaertriac

We enjoyed great food and entertainment–the brunch cruise featured live music performing cover songs. We heard Whitney Houston, Kem, and plenty of old school. And what party ends without classic Bus stop, Cha-cha slide, and the Wobble? Did your girl get out and dance? Three guesses…and they begin with letter “n.”

After brunch, I enjoyed the outside deck–the typical cruise route takes passengers along the Potomac seeing the Washington Monument, Jefferson Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Georgetown. However, rain made our usual route impossible; we couldn’t safely pass under the bridge to get to the monuments. So instead, we ventured down to old Alexandria, VA. Can’t say I didn’t feel disappointed (think of the pictures!!), but I can’t complain about the alternate route.

boat in the middle of water, brunch, spioaertriac old alexandria virginia on the water, brunch, spioaertriac        washington, odyssey, brunch cruises, wander focus love, spioaertriac

woman standing on outside desk, water in background, brunch, spioaertriac
Taken by Noria
woman standing on outside desk smiling, brunch, spioaertriac
Taken by Noria

looking over the outside deck to the river, brunch, spioaertriac






small boat on the water, brunch, spioaertriac sailboat on the water, brunch, spioaertriac

I encourage everyone to check out Odyssey cruises in DC if you live in the area or visit–and if you plan to visit Boston or Chicago, check out their cruise lines as well–I’m curious to see the comparison. Future trip, perhaps??  🙂

Oh and when you climb aboard the Odyssey, ask for Meagan. She personified professional, fun, courtesy, and hilarious.

two women smiling, brunch, spioaertriac

Vegas in DC!

When I think of casinos, I think bright, flashy neon and Las Vegas. I may also, on occasion, think of Biloxi, MS or Atlantic City, NJ. I do not think of Maryland. Well, enter the MGM National Harbor, forever altering my association of casinos and the state of Maryland.

Photo of MGM National Harbor
Photo Credit: MGM National Harbor official site

I regret not getting my own photo of this indescribably gorgeous hotel and casino. Seriously, the pictures I did manage don’t even do the place justice. And at night? This place lit up like Vegas. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t on the strip. Until I turned around and glimpsed Woodrow Wilson bridge. Ha, nope, still in Maryland…

picture of the potomac river, brunch, spioaertriac

The MGM just opened in December 2016 and it didn’t take long for patrons, gamblers, and tourists alike to flood its beautiful floors, rooms, shops, and restaurants. Not to mention, the casino. The Washington Post did a great article on the entire building if you want a more in-depth look (and the photos they capture demand attention and praise).

casino doors from outside, brunch, spioaertriac casino entrance to MGM National Harbor

theater doors at the MGM National Harbor
Theather Entrance–yes, it has a theater too!
large pink flowery artwork, brunch, spioaertriac
MGM interior

pink flowers, brunch, spioaertriac fairy tale bridge over water, brunch, spioaertriac vine swing surrounded by pink flowers, brunch, spioaertriac

Now, the interior of the MGM reminded me of a fairy land, Once Upon a Time, and unicorns all in one place. Pink dominated the centerpiece of the room–not to mention an extremely vivid floral scent. Like, extremely vivid. From previous photos I’d seen, the area had Christmas and winter décor in the center so I’m guessing they change this gargantuan display every few months. But the display came with a wooden bridge and a swing!

Confession (am I starting a trend?):  I’ve visited Vegas twice in my life, both times before I turned 21. So I’ve always wanted to walk on a casino floor and pull a lever for the slots machine. That’s it. I have very little desire to win money or gamble seriously, I just want to pull the lever like I saw in Vegas Vacation and Ocean’s Eleven.

photo of slot machines in MGM National Harbor
Photo Credit: MGM National Harbor official site

So imagine my surprise when I initially walk onto the casino floor and I see miles of slots…with no levers. Insert sad face here. Another let down? Casinos have entered modern times and no longer require patrons to insert coins or change. I really wanted to put in quarters or coins like they did in Oceans Thirteen (you can tell I get a lot of my fantasies from movies, right?) Now, casinos use vouchers, which makes perfect sense logically, but completely ruined my fantasy.

Despite this, I still wanted to play slots. That is, until I actually sat down, M Life card in hand, and attempted to play. Lemme just say, I need to know who REALLY knows the secret to playing and winning on slots. I sat down at three different machines (with themes as varied as Flintstones, Wheel of Fortune, and Peter Pan) and couldn’t figure out a strategy other than hitting the “play” button and betting. And I even read the rules! No help whatsoever.

Three machines and $10 worth free games later, I had won a grand total of $5.71 and no longer wanted to play slots. Ever again. So Noria and I walked around the rest of the casino floor–the place looks exactly how you would imagine, with bright lights, neon signs, beautiful crystal chandeliers dripping from the ceilings, alcohol everywhere, and pretty waitresses scattered around pit bosses and dealers in red vests. I couldn’t take my own photos (I asked, denied) so I invite everyone to read the Washington Post article I referenced earlier.

Well, the farther we walked into the casino, the more slot machines we saw; the floor is literally two-thirds slots. And then, it happened. I SAW A SLOT MACHINE WITH A LEVER! A glowing blue lever that seductively called to me from the casino path. I had no more free games on my M Life card, but I couldn’t resist pulling a lever. Just once. So I slid into the seat, inserted my own money, and pulled…

woman pulling lever on slot machine, brunch, spioaertriac woman using a slot machine at MGM National Harbor, brunch cashout voucher for 10 dollars, brunch, spioaertriac

And won TEN DOLLARS!! Cashed out and called it a night. Told you, I’m not a gambler. But 15 years after I stepped inside my first casino (the Mirage by the way) I had finally fulfilled my wish of pulling a lever and I won money! $$$

This money paid for the majority of my cheat meal just a few minutes later…

Shake Shack restaurant sign, brunch, spioaertriac cheeseburger, fries and shake, brunch, spioaertriac

Side Note: If you have never eaten at Shake Shack, get your life and go right now. I don’t care if your nearest Shack is 40 miles away, get in your car and drive. You will thank me later after you have one of their shakes. You’re welcome.

So Long Washington…

I spent Sunday in recovery from the first two days of my trip so no pictures, no exciting tales of my adventures. I literally went to brunch at Granite City (recommend!), and I worked on this post. I did not want to leave, but since I did not quit my day job, work called my name. But National Harbor left its mark on me…I have a feeling I’ll be back (foreshadowing, maybe?)

capital ferris at night, red white and blue lights on the wheel

I did get a special treat on the flight to Atlanta: a coveted window seat!

looking out a window of a plane, plane wing and land below photo of washinton monument from window seat of plane

Flying back home brought no less anxiety than flying away, especially when our flight grew more turbulent the farther south we flew. But I did enjoy watching the world from above the clouds. At 30,000 feet, you almost feel as though you have left all your cares and worries below–what could possibly worry you when blue sky surrounds you (and the guy in the seat next to you is cute!)

photo of clouds taken from window seat of a plane

For now though, I am preparing to return to the normal life of a professional, working on some upcoming posts for the blog, and looking into my next destination–coming soon!!

Final Note: The initial title of this post is an adaptation from the hit ABC show, Scandal, Season 3, Episode 3, “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington.”

pinterest pin, collage shot, top odyssey, next inner deck of bruice ship, next brunch meal. Text reads "ever done brunch on a boat? come aboard the odyssey."


  1. I’m going to DC in about a month to visit a friend and I might have to add some of these things as suggestions for my time there. I agree though–I always feel super posh when I have brunch. Congrats on winning $10! I went to Vegas before I was 21 as well so I’ve never properly gambled. I want to do a slot machine now!

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