An Experience Like No Other With Cirque Du Soleil

Prepare to be amazed by La Nouba at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Presented by the incomparable Cirque du Soleil, this performance combines theatrics and acrobatics in a way we have come to expect from this most original of entertainment troupes. The magical Disney resort is the perfect setting for a family-friendly show that is truly out of this world.

La Noubahas enjoyed incredible success since its premiere in 1998 and celebrated its 6000th performance in August. With two nightly shows taking place from Tuesday to Saturday every week, which adds up to nearly five hundred a year, La Nouba and its colourfully-clad cast have become favourites at their home in Downtown Disney’s West Side. The show is firmly established as one of Cirque du Soleil’s most popular events, and has now seen more performances than such Broadway favourites as Mamma Mia! and Miss Saigon.

Because the main performing area is at the centre of a large, semicircular theatre, every seat in the house is a good one. This means that even if a show sells out – as La Nouba often does – you will still be guaranteed a first-class view of one of the most extraordinary live events you are likely to attend. Be warned, however: the fact that there is a stage does not mean that the performance is limited to it! You might find yourself sat next to one of the show’s characters and may even be called upon to assist them during a BMX biker act! The Cirque du Soleil performers show an energetic friendliness and are always keen to interact with audiences, which only serves to strengthen the performer-spectator bond for which the company are famous.

It is fair to say that there is nothing like watching a Cirque du Soleil performance, and it is impossible not to be spellbound by the many acts and multiple costume changes which make up La Nouba. With displays including a ninety-foot high wire, a flying trapeze and a trampoline act which sees cast members bouncing from wall to wall, this bizarre and engaging show is sure to enthral adults and children alike. La Nouba, like all Cirque du Soleil shows, is constantly evolving. Since it started thirteen years ago, two thirds of the cast – and much of the performance itself – has changed. Even if you have experienced La Nouba before, a repeat visit would be highly recommended: you can guarantee seeing something new every time you return.

The Destinations Which You Make Sure Not to Miss in Vietnam

Vietnam is a paradise for each of the outdoor adventurer and city explorer alike. Winding down 3,444 kilometers of coastline from the northern Red River Delta close to the Chinese border towards the Mekong Delta in the southernmost tip of the South-east Asian peninsula, Vietnam is a splendid blend of picturesque coastline and lush inland terrain. The region’s background of conquests and wars makes travel to Vietnam today a wealthy and rewarding experience in the course of this moment of valuable peace.

Throughout the 20th century, Vietnam was at war for almost 45 consecutive years with assorted nations. Right after French and Spanish forces ravaged the region, the majority of the south became a French colony by 1867. Finally in 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence, sparking a French rebuttal and attracting international interest of U.S., Russian and Cambodian forces. Minh’s dream of an independent (communist) nation wasn’t realized until 1989 when the U.N. subdued the conflict with Khmer Rouge and pulled Vietnamese troops out of Cambodia.

Urban and Pristine Wonders of Vietnamese Travel

National identity has in a very short space of time become an integral part of life for this war trodden state and today the proud Vietnamese are more willing to embrace foreign travelers and share their magnificent cultural background as their economy starts to age. Pay a visit to the economical capital of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) inside the south to witness the vibrant and progressive culture that has taken root in Vietnam. While there, discover the extensive botanical gardens, Buddhist monasteries, and prevent by the Binh Soup Shop, which was the secret Viet Cong headquarters in Saigon in the course of the Vietnam War. Inside the far north, the capital city of Hanoi is a bit extra relaxed, contacting ancient Vietnamese culture and 1000 years of background along the streets of the Old Quarter. Go to the intriguing 1 Pillar Pagoda construct by Emperor Tong within the 11th century and top-up your spirits within the Bach Ma Temple, the city’s oldest and most revered.

Retreat to the captivating beauty of Vietnam’s wilderness for a more tranquil part of your trip. Tropical rainforests abound in the protected location of Ba Be National Park, situated near to the Chinese border in the north. The local Tay individuals live in stilt houses and contribute cultural significance for the location. Take an elephant ride by means of the expansive Yok Don National Park for a chance to see monkeys, birds as well as leopards. If confined spaces do not trigger nightmares, the Phong Nha Cave is a must see. This UNESCO World Heritage Internet site was developed 250 million years ago and boasts a cavernous entanglement stretching thousands of meters beneath ground. Portions of this all-natural wonder are open to the public daily. For the claustrophobic, travel to Halong Bay within the Gulf of Tonkin, another Globe Heritage Site, which is dotted with excess of three,000 tiny islands with cliffs and white sand beaches that cascade into the surrounding sparkling waters.

Because of the country’s broad north-south range, Vietnam is a marvelous country to discover any time of year. The sheltered woods and increased speed of the coastal cities supply an invaluable variety for a perfectly balanced journey. Travel to Vietnam to discover this underestimated Southeast Asian gem.

Los Caballos (The Race Track at Lima)) in Spanish and English))

Papa Augusto, He waits, stands, hands behind His back
like an old soldier, policeman; watching T.V. after breakfast
(11:00 AM). The sun just come out, he pays it not attention,
His mind is on the horses (caballos); it´s Sunday morning.

He, Papa Augusto is waiting for the time, the moment we’ll
All go to the race track,– see the caballos (make his bet,
perhaps win a treasure chest–of some dinero [$]. He has
studied the horses all week, a long week, I expect. He even
whistled on his way to breakfast (perchance it means:
a big win).

Los Caballos
(Hipódromo de Lima)

Papa Augusto, él espera, parado, manos detrás de su espalda
Como un soldado viejo, policía; mirando la televisión después del desayuno
(11:00 de la mañana). El sol acaba de salir, él no presta atención,
Su mente está en los caballos; hoy es domingo por la mañana.

El, Papa Augusto está esperando por el tiempo, el memento en que todos
Iremos al hipódromo, — ver a los caballos (hacer su apuesta,
Talvez ganar un baúl de–algo de dinero [$]. El ha
Estudiado a los caballos toda la semana, una semana larga, espero. El incluso
Silva en su camino a tomar desayuno (talvez esto significa:
Una grande ganancia).

Ahora, ahora él solo está parado, sus manos detrás de su espalda,
Por el televisor– abruptamente se aleja, se aleja y va a su cuarto,
Hasta la 1:00 de la tarde, a estudiar a los caballos de nuevo.

Nota: dedicado a Papá Augusto; y al caballo, Miss Saigon, quien ganó la carrera por mi hoy día, en el hipódromo de Lima. #897 16 de octubre del 2005.

Now, now he just stands, his hands behind his back by the
T.V. –abruptly leaves, leaves and goes to his room,
till 1:00 PM, to study the horse again.

Note: dedicated to Papa Augusto; and to the horse, Miss Saigan, whom won the race for me today, at the Lima, Race Rrack. #897 10/16/2005

Note 1: This poem, ‘Los Caballos’ will be added into the future book, “Images out of Peru”, which is in the makings right now. Mr. Siluk´s two books on poetic tradtions of Peru (‘Spell of the Andes,’ and ‘Peruvian Poems’) will be featured in a interview by Channel #5, “Good Morning Huancayo” on October 18, 2005, at 6:30 AM.

Note 2: Cesar Hildebrandt, International Commentator, for Channel #2, in Lima, Peru, on October 7, 2005, introduced Mr. Siluk´s book, “Peruvian Poems,” to the world, saying: “…Peruvian Poems, is a most interesting book, and important….”

Note 3: More than 126,000-visit Mr. Siluk’s web site a year: see his travels and books…!

Nota 4: César Hildebrandt, Comentarista Internacional, en Canal 2, en Lima, Perú, el 7 de octubre del 2005, introdujo el libro del Sr. Siluk, “Poemas Peruanos”, al mundo, diciendo: “…Poemas Peruanos es un libro muy interesante, usted debería leerlo…”

Writing Your Will May Be Easier Than You Think

Death is in the periphery, unacknowledged, but it is a truth as certain as the setting of the sun.  All of us will die.  While the “how” is not up to us (under normal circumstances), the disposition of our body and our possessions are within our control.

Can you face it?

Sooner or later, you need to.  Yes, the law does provide for instances when there is no will (intestate succession) but you may leave more destruction and confusion in your wake (literally) if this is the path you choose.  But the law has given you an easy way out (again, literally), and this is through a holographic will.

I always imagine a hologram when I hear the term holographic will.  In my imagination, I see a dead person speaking from the grave, telling the ones he left behind how he loved them, how he lived, how he wants things to be, now that he is gone.  Kind of a love letter, and a confession at the same time; a bequeath, his last chance to be generous; an acceptance that everything is temporary and that he cannot bring things material, not one, to the great beyond.

According to the Civil Code, a holographic will must be entirely written, dated and signed by the hand of the testator himself.

To translate, the person writing his will must, simply, hand-write it, date it, sign it.

The beauty about this kind of will is that it could be a private affair – there needs to be no witnesses (in the United States, unwitnessed holographic wills are valid in 25 out of 50 States) – no lawyer or family, hovering and expectant, it can be in any form (a card, a poem, a biography, an odyssey) provided the intention to bequeath could be determined with certainty; it could be made with our without the assistance of a lawyer and it need not be notarized.

Are you ready?

Here are the things you should prepare when writing your holographic will:

1.  A list of everything you own. Start with real property (lots, houses and lots, or an interest in real estate, i.e., co-ownership), personal property (cars, jewelry, stocks, bonds, shares), cash on hand.
2.  A list of everything your spouse owns, if you have one, so there will be no doubt as to who owns what. You can now start to divide your property among your kin, leave your instructions, appoint an executor (and a substitute).  If your will is a living will, you can also leave instructions as to what your executor should do when you slip into a coma or become mentally impaired.  How long before they pull the plug?  Do they pull the plug?  Do you want to be cremated?  Where do you want to be buried? Do you want a celebration? A cry fest?  Your epitaph? It could be the littlest things and the biggest things and as long as you can write it, you can have it.

For probate (read: establishing the validity of the will), gather some of your hand-written letters or notes to prove your handwriting and signature.  Bundle it up and tie it with a ribbon and leave it with your will, which should be in a safe place.  Tell someone you trust where they can find it.

Part of wealth creation is wealth protection.  Through a will, you will be protecting the ones that you love – from the State, from others, from themselves.

Write one.  Now.

Real Rekindled Romances Vs Reel Romances

Men and women often enter therapy when they are suddenly and surprisingly catapulted into an obsessive love relationship with someone from their past. Especially if they are married, they probably cannot discuss this reunion with friends or family members, so they turn to psychotherapists for understanding and relief – and rarely find it there. Even single people are usually rebuffed by their friends and therapists, and told that their feelings are just nostalgia, not real love for someone they haven’t seen in many years.

Like their friends and family, their psychologists insisted that rekindled romances were mere “fantasies” and recommended that they “move on.” If the client was married, he or she was often advised to “find what is wrong in your marriage, because that is what you imagined having with your lost love.” This advice is not helpful to lost love clients, who do not want their reality denied or their feelings belittled. Very few of these men and women challenged their therapists, however; they simply never returned.

The advisability and moral issues of the extramarital affairs aside, my research indicates that love for old flames, even those who were separated for decades, is very real, and reunions can be long-lasting. For the last few years, I have focused on how best to educate psychotherapists about this different kind of romance, and I have sought to understand why ordinary people and so many mental health experts doubt the veracity and strength of lost love bonds.

One reason for this doubt, indicated in results from my “First Love” survey, is that many adults had terrible first love experiences; they have no desire to reunite with these people from the past, and cannot understand why anyone would want to do such a thing.

Another reason for skepticism might be because popular culture images of love reunions stereotype people who try reunions as chasing rainbows. Could films in particular influence how people evaluate the wisdom of looking up lost loves? What I discovered was intriguing: Hollywood scripts are more pessimistic in outcome than real-life rekindled romances.

My website members (www.Lostlovers.com) and I compiled a list of 120 films with lost love reunions in their plots. The oldest was released in 1939 and the newest came out in 2006. I found that a statistically significant number of these reunion movies ended with the lost loves still together: 102 of 120. But what fascinated me was that most of these reunion films involved unusual characters or situations that could not possibly occur in real life: they were fantasies, science fiction, thrillers, or musicals.

Of the 102 films with reunion happy endings, 43 were comedies, light-hearted movies, and “chick flicks.” These movies had contrived plots and characters with distinctive personalities, like Bridget Jones’s Diary and For the Boys. These were not ordinary rekindled romance couples. The remaining 59 films with lost love reunions ending happily were science fiction movies, such as Solaris and Somewhere in Time; fantasies such as Family Man, Forrest Gump, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Illusionist; and light-hearted musicals such as Gigi and A Little Night Music. So these 102 films with successful rekindled romances, out of the 120 reunion films I looked at, were improbable lost love fantasies — just as therapists had stereotyped their clients’ reunions.

The 18 movies that concluded with reunion breakups included Splendor in the Grass, Casablanca, The Way We Were, and Miss Saigon. With the exception of Cast Away, the films that end with the couples separating again are primarily serious dramas; their plots are complicated and more plausible than the happy-ending reunion movies, and they include lots of heartbreak. Surely there are movies we missed, but those we remembered and included had a clear bias.

Lost loves question their own hearts and sanity as everyone around them scoffs at their reunions. They seem like lost love film characters who separate at the conclusion of the movie — men and women struggling with lost love issues, obsessed, and conflicted. No wonder therapists might think that real-life reunions as a whole are toxic to adults and inevitably end badly.

Real rekindled romances (provided the lost loves are single, widowed or divorced) have happier outcomes for the couples than reel endings. And even for those who separate again, their love was real, not fantasy.

Iron Skirts-for Phnom Penh (Story No: 11, To: “Voices Out of Saigon”)

Mr. Morgan Carter, otherwise known as Staff Sergeant Carter, and still with the nick name was called Serge, was of Irish decent, and lived along the Levee, in St. Paul, Minnesota, until they tore it down in 1960, and then he and his family moved towards what the city called, the North End, and he joined the Army. Thus, he was now retired, it is May of 1980, and he’s been retired for only a few months now, and has taken a vacation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia of all places. He has seen most of the sights, in particular, the Grand Stupa in Phnom Penh, which he thought was impressive. And now he is walking along the banks of the Mekong River that runs along side the city.

Zuxin’s Aunt (Tuyen Hoang, sister to Naomi Hoang, Zuxin’s mother not married, lives in Phnom Penh, with her brother, Sun, where Ming still lives, as Zuxin has married none other than the rich man called, Mr. Jong, who once lived by the Tan Su Nut airbase in Saigon; and who had bought Zuxin’s home, and owns several boutiques himself, second husband to Zuxin).

In any case, Ming is out in the river with Tuyen and Sun, trying to catch fish, with a handsome looking wide and large net. Sun throws it out, and it sinks, and Tuyen lifts one side sun the other, and Ming is nearby to assist when called upon.

Morgan Carter II, is walking down along the bank of the river, the Mekong, daydreaming, his hotel is nearby, he was at the Russian Market, and did some more sight seeing, it is his second day, yesterday he went to the Stupa, and this new day, he sees three people fishing, one looks a tinge tall, taller that is than the other two, and he remembers Ming being tall, the girl that worked in the mess hall back ten-years ago-slim, pretty, long black hair, an eye catcher, he remembers her from the 611th Ordinance Company, in Cam Ranh Bay.

Sun points to Morgan who is walking towards them with a cowboy hat on, you can’t miss him, the only Irish American in town, the Midwestern boy is as white as rice, with light bluish-green eyes. He looks to Ming as a man in his late 30s. The city is not all that safe, Pol Pot is in the jungle with his terrorists, and has control of most everything in Cambodia, so she wonders is this fellow lost, or crazy; she expresses that anyhow on her face.

Most of the young men in the city are to her co
nsidered criminals with a form of desecration, if not self destruction, and going no place in life. (Sun starts to pull in his net, it has sank to the bottom of the river, and he is bringing it up and out, he feels some weight to it, so he knows he’s got a few fish in it, he rushes over to his sister to close the net, so the fish do not escape, she has now let a few wiggle their way to freedom, and for the curious, one can see them fighting over the loss, in the background, for Ming is walking forward to see who the person is.)

Now Ming and Morgan see each other clearer, and know who one another are without guessing, and they walk faster, smiles tell each other they are aware; she remembers him, he was at the Ordnance Company in Cam Ranh, for a year, and returned there several times when he was on his way elsewhere, he never was a compete stranger for yes, between 1966 through 1971.

“Is it really you Serge?” cries Ming.

“Call me Morgan; I’m a retired sergeant now Ming, no long a Staff Sergeant, just a plain tourist here.”

The wind from the Mekong is setting in, you can hear it.

“Come, we’ll go see Zuxin, she’s married now, married a rich man who lived down by Vang, down by Ton Sun Nhut Air Base, owns a few dress shops in Saigon, and they have a home here, and she owns a dress shop here in Phnom Penh also.”

For some odd reason they both start laughing, as if the stress of seeing each other had melted, and now they where at ease with one another, cordial, tranquil within a few minutes.

Says Morgan with an up beat, and excited to be seeing Ming, he always had an eye for her anyhow, “She can wait, I’d rather visit with you. What the heck you been doing all these years? Kind of a rhetorical question, only need to know you’re ok, really ok.”

“Morgan, let’s-you and I just sit on the bank here, the sun will be going down in a half hour.”

And Morton does. And they talk, sitting on that weedy and slightly wet bank, on a shroud, then she takes off her cloths, and goes swimming, gets into the water up to just past her breasts, “Come in Morton,” she calls.

He joins her, makes no attempt to touch her. Her reaction from previous experiences seems to have faded into oblivion, as if the wrong she was done, was paid for in full, and all her soul wiped clean, to the point of it not even being able to remember what she had to endure in Saigon, as if it never happened. Innocence resides in her bones, her thighs, it is how she became, the knightly figure for the strong woman , the one who would inherit the new age, the age of Aquarius on earth: she is ahead of her times; or perhaps one of a kind. The past invalidated, squashed, packed in and stepped on like a tomato, that turned into ketchup. Hence, give to the next man waiting, let him seduce me, if that is what he needs to appease his desires, his cravings, to pacify his inners, I am a woman, and then let us go on with life, and fight the everyday fires, I am thirty years old, too old to be fighting man and the beast inside of him, and trying to survive in-between for food, and cloths, and all the necessities of life. Give me peace, I will pay the price, even if my skirts get heave as iron (this is what she told her second self, the one in the back room of her mind, the one she talked to-now and then, the one, only she knew about, and kept her, her secret, the only other friend she ever had besides her, was God himself).

-Morgan is unsure what do, but his body functions aren’t, only his mind, and Ming can feel that. She has no friend to save her, like the last time (when she needed a friend and had none), but she knows, her friend in the back of her mind also knows, confirms, she is safe with Moraine, and he will protect her if need be, Morgan is a good ole soul; therefore, she will not refuse him, and she doesn’t. She faces him, while in the waters. He begins to smell her flesh, what he desires, what most men desire, asking nothing, but in his mind perhaps this freak chance is and can be, and was meant to be, a lasting romance, so he feels from his toes to his throat, and all those spaces in-between, this growing, and growing desire. She knows Morgan is a hard man, he has to be, he endured five-tours of duty in war, while in Vietnam. She will be safe with him, she knows, he is really quite gentle, she knows this also.

“Will you come and live with me?” he asks.

She is moved by his consideration and offer, it wouldn’t matter, and she is not after pity, but she does tell him about her ambition before she says yes, “I want to own some day a little, just a small dress shop, I’ve saved up $2500-dollars, a deal I made in Saigon, selling Zuxin’s house (she tells him this, so he doesn’t think less of her ambition).”

For some odd reason, it is clear to him why she is telling him all this, all this unnecesiary information, unless she had a deeper plan for him, perhaps them together, and he is close to forty, he is not all that young, but Ming knows he will be getting a military retirement, or is getting one, they, the solders, the so called lifer’s talked about it all the time at the 611th Ordnance Company in Cam Ranh Bay.

In all reality, she also tells herself: love is a decision, not just an emotion that needs to be fed like a cow. And it seems they have both accessed this. She also knows sat eighteen or twenty, such a decision if made much such a young mind would in most cases be immature, but at their ages, and their desires, it is not wise to wait if indeed it is made with an honest and mature mind, matter-of-fact, it is perhaps prudent, to not waist time.

“Well,” said Morgan, “I have $8,000-dollars saved, how about you and I getting that little dress shop together, and having a little apartment above it? We can endure this war, here in Cambodia, just like we did the last one, in Vietnam.”

No more words needed to be said on the subject, she shakes her head ‘yes,’ matter-of-fact; she shakes it until he has to grab her head and stop her shaking it.

She thinks (now staring into his bluish green eyes): life is not always so great, but if you can outwait the bad times, it comes in spurts, the good times will somehow reach you with an once of pure happiness. That the roads of life go up and down, and seldom are we in the valley of ecstasy, but there is a valley if you can make the journeys up and down the mountains, in search of it, most give-up somewhere in-between, and gripe about it up to the day of their funeral.

Ming would have seemed-to an onlooker-as an adult child; Morgan, at that very moment perhaps likewise: “Yes, yes,” says Morgan, “I seem to have been waiting for you all these years.”

That would have been considered the stupidest and most unclear statement he had eve made, had he not made it at that moment, at that specific time and location, and to Ming. He never made statements like that, it wasn’t him, and in consequence, it had to be as it was, a truthful statement, as truthful as one can make it, as truthful as one saying there must be a God, who else could have created all this.

Ming didn’t laugh, although Morgan after he said it, thought she might.

“I just had to get my act together, and then here you are, so simple, God makes things simple, somehow he does it, is beyond me, in all this earthly mess.”

You, the reader, nor I the writer, could not tell them this was not a magical God sent moment, they would have told me not to write it, to leave it out of this story, and so they swore within their hearts it was destiny, their fate to have met twice in their lives, both from oceans and masses of land apart, both meeting ten years later down the road, both meeting in a city ravished with war.

Today they are alive and well (Ming in her late fifties, Morgan in his late 60s), yes, they lived through hard times, older they are, but they have out waited the bad. Their last wish, is (when I talked to them last), was they hoped they both could die together, at the same instant, in the same place, at the same time, it would be a good elegy, they said, and if not, fine, they’d simply endure until they met the third time.

Ming’s Elegy

In the process of loving and learning
anything can happen, such as: no
peace or privacy, disgrace and shame
death- and witnessing of the dying,
the crying; those killed, and yet to be killed,
in the middle or beginning of their lives…

One minute of life left to go, few know
that minute and through all of it one has
only his or her body and soul; some doors
open, others locked, some suspiciously, some
not. Alone, then never alone, it’s how it is,
one day your life is slow, the next rapid.

At first you don’t think you can bear it all,
or only so much, then you can bear anything,
then it all doesn’t matter, it is like it never was,
happened, and those who do not remember die also…!

So the bragger stops bragging somewhere along
the line, -and then there is the hereafter
a reception, and you already know who you’ll
meet, and who will be missing, at least some.
Heaven fumigates all those who created stink
and tries to bring it through the back doors,
it’s not like earth, where you have to endure.

Can Spider Man On Broadway Compete With The Spider Man Movie Version?

Why would anyone want to see Spider Man Broadway version if the reviews from critics have been harsh? Would it be better to just stick to the good ol’ big screen and comic books instead?

On the other hand, why listen to critics when their batting average isn’t that great? In fact, since Spider Man Broadway style is the first Broadway play of epic proportions, they’re just as clueless as everyone else when it comes to grand technical gestures that are being promised with this play. Their level of exposure to amazing is the helicopter in Miss Saigon, and Peter Pan flying across the stage in the Peter Pan, the Musical. This is the first time we see a super hero of the magnitude and popularity of Spider Man on the theater stage.

Spidey fans will love their favorite super hero no matter what venue or platform is being used, so expect this Spider Man Broadway play to be a huge success, and hopefully go on tour around the country.

As far as comparing the Spidey Broadway version to the movie version, this is not a good idea. First of all, theater has limitations that movies don’t have. Also, you get close-up and spectacular shots with a movie camera that you will never find in theater.

As for the benefits of watching theater, you have the stage, live actors, live performances, so the tendency is to get swept away by the whole experience. Everything becomes more real and tangible compared to a movie version. Imagine Spidey a few feet away, performing just for a relatively small crowd! This is an experience that no one should ever pass up. You will be transported to a place where dreams can come true. Nothing can compare the majesty and thrill of seeing your favorite super hero before you.

Thus, when watching Spider Man Broadway version, don’t bring any expectations with you. Just go with the flow. Let the actors, music, and set envelope you to a world you’ve always read about – the world of Peter Parker and how an unassuming, confused young man learned to overcome his inner struggles and find his identity.

Washington, DC a Bargain Travel Guide

Welcome to Washington, DC – The nation’s capital is a city with public museums and monuments galore, but also hidden treasures that should not be overlooked. Whether you’re in Georgetown, downtown, or even in Northern Virginia, and whether you’re alone, hanging out in with friends, or planning a romantic date, we offer suggestions for restaurants, bars and activities that will suit your needs – all on a limited budget.

For starters we list restaurants that offer a great value to go with exceptional food. Then there are some bars with good specials that you’d be crazy not to try out. We share some activities that go beyond just visiting the capitol building. We also combine some of our favorite ideas to create a “cheap date” guide that will make you look anything but; ideas that will help you impress you girl (or boy) friend without emptying your wallet.

Restaurants

Miss Saigon (3057 M St NW, Georgetown) – This Vietnamese restaurant is nestled among a few others like it – but none quite as good – right as you enter Georgetown. Look around the menu and you can find a filling portion of meat, veggies and rice for between $10 and $12. Our favorite is the Caramel Chicken with Ginger in a Clay Pot, but if you want to peruse the entire menu, you can check it out here thanks to DC Menus!

Tom Sarris’ New Orleans House (1213 Wilson Blvd, Arlington) – Hop off the Metro at the Rosslyn stop and walk a block south for the best prime rib in town. Dinner entrees cost between $10-$15, depending on how much meat you want, but you also get unlimited trips to the salad bar, and it’s no ordinary salad bar. The Steamboat-shaped bar has over 30 salad toppings, 7 dressings and piles of warm bread. Be careful or you won’t be hungry when your slate of prime rib arrives. You’d really miss out on a great value for an excellent cut of meat. The atmosphere is certainly memorable as well. Inside there are no windows, which allows the ornate decor to lead you to believe you are actually on Bourbon Street in New Orleans!

Bangkok Bistro (3251 Prospect St NW, Georgetown) – Find all the classic Thai foods at this hip Georgetown joint. Start with a Thai Iced Tea for a sweeter and creamier version of the traditional (they add half ‘n’ half). Then you can choose one of multiple dinner entrees for under $10 – and they all begin with a salad and your choice of tangerine vinaigrette, peanut, or creamy garlic dressing (I suggest the peanut – you are in a Thai restaurant). If you are in the mood to splurge, try sharing the Sweet Surrender (fried coconut Shrimp). Want something that’s not too crazy? The Thai BBQ Chicken has received rave reviews. And of course if you just don’t know what to pick, you can’t go wrong with the Pad Thai.

Ollie’s Trolley (12th and E St NW, Downtown) – If you’re downtown and craving greasy goodness, Ollie’s is the place to go. Easy to pick out by the bright red and yellow décor on the windows and happy chef cutout welcoming you in, the atmosphere on the inside is just as laid-back and fun. The famous “Olliefries,” French fries with Ollie’s secret seasoning, are a sure crowd pleaser. Match them with a beefy burger and a thick milkshake.

Drink Specials

Rock Bottom (4238 Wilson Blvd, Ballston Mall, Arlington) – Sure it’s a chain, but their selection of microbrews and nightly specials make it quite the local hangout. Get there early on Wednesday nights to take advantage of $1 pints! But be prepared, because by 6pm, the bar will be packed. Four “usuals” and four specials provide enough selection for everyone’s palate, from the light to dark drinkers and all those in between. And odd as it may seem to drink at the mall, we can’t complain – it just makes it that much easier to get to! You can park in the Ballston Mall garage or take the metro to Ballston exit, which leads you directly into the mall.

Tom-Tom (The strip in Adams Morgan) – Adams Morgan can offer some great deals during the week, and Group Therapy is one of the best around. This Thursday night special offers four beers and four (small) shots for only $10! As an added bonus, this bar boasts several old school Nintendos and Super Nintendos for those who want to recapture a bit of their youth.

Tombs (Prospect and 36th Sts NW, Georgetown) – Located in the basement below 1789, this pub, popular with the Georgetown University crowd, offers relatively cheap beer and some great deals on food. Busch light is always $1.60 for a mug, and $7.00 for a pitcher. The drink prices rise from there. For those with more sophisticated tastes, come to Tombs on Sunday nights for half priced bottles of wine. (This special is also available at Clyde’s on M street in Georgetown, which is under the same management.) If you’re hungry, stop by from 3-5pm or after 10pm for a variety of cheap food including burgers, sandwiches, chicken fingers, and appetizers.

Morton’s (3251 Prospect St NW, Georgetown and 1050 Connecticut Ave, Downtown) – Believe it or not, everyone can afford to drink at Morton’s, if you go on the right day! Every Monday is “Mortini Night” at this world-famous steakhouse. While this place would normally blow the budget, stop by the bar from 5-7pm for $4 martinis and complimentary (but small) filet mignon sandwiches. Call (202) 342-6258 (Georgetown) or (202) 955-5997 (Downtown) for more information.

Activities

National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Woodley Park) – Home to DC’s famed giant pandas and a host of other exotic creatures, a trip to the National Zoo promises some adventure and exercise without costing you a dime. Admission to the zoo is free (or at least already paid for through your federal taxes) and parking is $4 for the first hour, $12 for two to three hours, and $16 for more than three hours. You can also take the metro: use the Cleveland Park Metro stop on your way there and Woodley Park stop when you leave so that you never have to walk uphill! April through October, the buildings are open from 10am to 6pm; November through March, they close at 430pm. The Zoo is an excellent place to enjoy the great outdoors and get a break from the hectic pace of DC.

Drug Enforcement Agency (700 Army Navy Drive at Hayes Street, across from Pentagon City Mall, Arlington) – This small museum provides a surprising amount of information about, yup, drugs. The majority of the exhibit explains the history of drugs in America, from the introduction of morphine, heroin, and cocaine in the 19th century to modern-day techniques for fighting against drug trafficking. The most intriguing part, however, is near the end, where you can learn how to make crack (a surprising tidbit I did not expect the government to be so forthcoming with)! There is no admission charge, but the museum is only open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10am – 4pm.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Dulles Airport, Chantilly, VA) – This off-site extension of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) offers the perks that cannot fit on the downtown mall location. See an SR-71 Blackbird, the Enterprise Space Shuttle and an Air France Concorde all in the same place. You can also ascend to the observation tower and watch the planes depart and land at Dulles Int’l Airport. Doors are open 10am to 5:30pm seven days a week. Admission is free, but it’s $12 to park. You can also take the NASM shuttle from the downtown mall museum for $12/ride (or less if you buy more tickets). The shuttle departs every 1.5 hours from 9am – 5pm.

Ice Skate on the Downtown Mall (700 Constitution Ave, in the Sculpture Garden, Downtown) – A fun activity to get outdoors on an otherwise wintry day, the National Gallery of Art maintains a skating rink off the downtown mall from November through mid-March. Skating for two hours costs $7 ($6 with a Student ID); if you don’t own ice skates, you can rent them for $3; and it is $0.50 to rent a locker for your shoes and wallets (plus a $5 deposit). The skating rink is easily accessible from the Archives-Navy Memorial and Gallery Place metro stops.

Canoe the Potomac (Jack’s Boats, 3500 K St NW under Key Bridge, Georgetown) – Take K Street until it ends, right under Key Bridge, and you will see a hut on your left called Jack’s Boats. Here you can rent a canoe or kayak, depending on your energy level, and spend a warm day floating across the Potomac. You can also paddle over to Roosevelt Island to do some exploring and get seemingly lost by venturing off the beaten paths. The prices at Jack’s Boats range from $8 for an hour to $25 for all day and make sure you bring cash because they do not take credit cards.

Bike Along the C&O Canal (Fletcher’s Boathouse, 4940 Canal Rd at Reservoir Rd, Georgetown) – If you want to get a bit off the beaten path, Fletcher’s Boathouse offers the best rates for bike rentals ($8 for 2 hours or $12 for the day) and also access to the best route – right along the C&O Canal. You and your significant other can take the path north, into the wilderness, and admire the beautiful scenery that you wouldn’t expect to find so close to the city (I suggest early fall, when the leaves are starting to change) and a history of the “locks” that guided boats through the canal; or south, into the heart of DC, and tour the monuments on bicycle and stop off on a patch of grass near the Potomac to admire the view. Not that you’d want to go in the dead of winter, but Fletchers is only open March through Fall. Get directions here.

Cheap Dates

Benihana (M Street and Wisconsin, on the bottom floor of the Georgetown Park Mall, Georgetown) – While this Hibachi restaurant is normally a place that can get pretty pricey, they offer a great early bird special before 7:30pm. Unlike most early bird specials, this one offers plenty of great food and very few senior citizens. For $12.95 you’ll have a choice of several entrees which the chef will grill right before you as well as a soup, salad, and appetizer. The tropical drinks can be on the more expensive side but can be a fun splurge. If by some chance you’re still hungry after dinner, try the tempura ice cream for dessert.

Chef Geoff’s (13th St NW between E and F Sts, Downtown or 3201 New Mexico Ave, near American University) – Another establishment with great early bird specials is Chef Geoff’s. Here you can get a 3 course “Theatre Special” at the downtown location every day from 4:00pm until 6:30pm for only $23.95; or you can get the same deal, but referred to as the “Sunset Special,” for $19.95 at the location near American University. Why the difference in price? The menu selection and atmosphere at the downtown location are slightly more upscale. Check out the possibilities for each 3 course meal here. They offer quite the variety – from pork chops and salmon to fish and chips and pizza!

Thomas Sweet’s (3214 P St NW, off Wisconsin Ave, Georgetown) – If you’re looking for a good casual or first date but don’t want to ask that someone special out for another cup of coffee, try getting some ice cream at Thomas Sweet’s in Georgetown. Their ice cream is served at the White House, making this place is a DC landmark which offers a great selection and decent prices. The lines can get long, but this can give you a perfect to spend some time talking to your date.

National Mall (Downtown) – While it may be clichéd, a trip to the National Mall and the monuments can be a great thing to do with a date. During the day, pack a picnic lunch, grab some ice cream from the numerous street vendors, enjoy throwing a Frisbee or just sit and people watch. At night, the monuments are lit up and can be a great place for a romantic stroll.