by Gilda Caudron
Volume 1, Issue 2 February 2002
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Gilda CaudronHello, my name is Gilda Caudron and I am the owner and CEO of Gilt-Edge Tours & Travel International based in Arlington, Virginia about 10 minutes from the Pentagon. So it seems only appropriate that we start off our premier issue with a brief history of the Pentagon, our nation's military command center.
Welcome to the The Gilt-Edge Traveler's Notebook! Geared to travel news for Washington, DC and The surrounding area plus travel news in General, both domestic and international.
ATTRACTION OF THE MONTH: If you haven't had the opportunity to visit the National Building Museum in Washington, DC stop by the next time you are in town. The last time I visited it was when the featured attraction was "The White House in Miniature." What a fascinating exhibit! Although I have visited the White House many times I never realized quite how big it is until seen up close in miniature. The most interesting portion of the exhibit was the miniature of the White House being built in the early 1800's. Now when I say miniature, I don't mean an itty-bitty scale, but a fairly large scale of lets say 4 feet for the White House itself. If it ever comes your way, run, don't walk, to see it. It makes you feel much more connected to the White House when you see the layout up close like Alice-in-Wonderland when she ate the cookie that turned her into a giant.


Located at 401 F. Street, NW, the museum is located in a most appropriate building. It was immediately recognized as an outstanding architectural feat upon its completion in 1887. Designed in 1881 by eccentric U.S. Army General Montgomery C. Meigs, a civil engineer, the building features a Great Hall in the Italian Renaissance style, which has been compared to the Farnese Palace in Rome with a fountain and soaring Corinthian columns. It was built as, of all things, a pension building!

Constructed on the grounds where the wounded and dying soldiers were brought after the disastrous Battle of Bull Run and where the former DC Jail and later asylum for the insane stood, the building, not surprisingly, has been the site of supernatural events over the years.

When you visit the Museum take a good look at the columns-reportedly among the highest in the world. They have a strange history. General Meigs wanted actual marble columns of solid onyx columns but instead got stimulated onyx that looked like the real thing. Watchmen soon begin to report that the painted onyx shapes begin to resemble odd shapes such as a buffalo and an Indian shortly after the death of Buffalo Bill Cody, who had been an honored guest at the first Presidential Gala held there. Then the shapes of skulls appeared and disappeared on the columns, and later the profiles of George and Martha Washington came and went also. Today the columns are painted over in gold paint and the sighting has ceased.

Another odd thing was the rumor that General Meigs has stashed away secret government papers and other artifacts in the interior of some of the columns, but no one has ever attempted to pinpoint them.

One of the upper stories had been used to quarter horses at one time (they did strange things with horses back in those days) and reports of a transparent ghostly horse and rider galloping down the stairs caused great concern. Some people think it is old General Meigs come back to watch over his building, especially during times of renovation.

Today, as the Museum handout reads "the museum is the only institution uniquely dedicated to the exploring the what, who, and why of American building. It is a focal point for all those who want to learn about American's architecture, urban planning, construction, engineering and design. It's exhibitions, publications, collections and events addressed to people of all ages, may reveal the many connections between the way we build and the way we live."

QUICK FACT: The Newseum, an interactive museum dedicated to the Media and Journalism located in Arlington, Virginia is scheduled to close on March 3rd, 2002 in order to concentrate on its new move to 6th and Pa. Avenue, NW in a complex comprising the museum, the Freedom Forum headquarters plus an international conference center, restaurant, retail facilities and 100 housing units.

HOTEL OF THE MONTH: The Hotel Monticello of Georgetown, 1075 Jefferson Street, NW. 1-800-388-2410

Each month we will focus on a hotel that has caught our eye. Billed as the hotel with five-star amenities at a four star price, the Hotel Monticello is located in Georgetown, that upscale section of Washington located on the banks of the Potomac river. Formerly a seaport, Georgetown is a Mecca for visitors and locals alike who enjoy its European ambiance and historic charm.

Two years ago the entire structure of the hotel was gutted and the end result was a light, airy atmosphere with one and two bedroom apartment style suites, six of which are suites and nine are duplex penthouses.

Since the hotel is located close to both Georgetown University and George Washington University the hotel is usually booked around graduation time. Guests, both leisure and business enjoy the amentias of an in-house massage, access to the Monarch Hotel's Health Club, business center, baby-sitting and same day laundry and dry cleaning services.

If you like the feel of being where all the action is, then consider the Hotel Monticello. That combined with the personalized service and intimate atmosphere makes it almost like a home away from home and one of the more charming boutique hotels.

QUICK FACT: Avoid lost luggage by removing all old flight tags. Expensive luggage catches the eyes of airport thieves, so make sure your luggage isn't a clone for Elizabeth Taylor's duds. Pick up your luggage as soon as possible and never leave your bags unattended.

Ribbon Review:
Blue RIbbon =5   Red Ribbon =4   Green Ribbon =3   Yellow Ribbon =2   Black Ribbon =1


RESTAURANT REVIEW: Michel Richard's Citronelle Latham Hotel. 3000 M. Street, NW. 202/625-2150

Green Ribbon Green Ribbon Award from Chef Henri.

Let's say that you've decided to stay at the Hotel Monticello of Georgetown. It's Valentine's Day and you want to splurge on the best by taking your sweetie to Michelle Richard's Citronelle's restaurant just down the street. Make sure you've reserved well in advance, of course. The menu changes frequently under the culinary direction of one of the country's most distinguished and imaginative French chefs, Michel Richard.

The luxurious décor includes a mood wall that changes color and leaves the spectator fascinated. The French cuisine is of the highest order, and reminds people why the French have the reputation of food sensualists when, as the Washingtonian magazine puts it, you taste "the picture-perfect pairing of duck breast and boned leg-of-duck confit, which is almost overshadowed by a garnish of slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, whose intense sweetness rivals that of a perfectly vine-ripened tomato; and Squab Four Ways, a tour de force revealing the various flavors a culinary genius can coax out of a single bird."

The Citronelle is often booked up well in advance, so it is always wise to make reservations the minute you decide you want to eat there. It's a perfect Valentine's Day treat for those who relish the best in French cuisine.

ANTEDOTE OF THE MONTH: Some interesting historical markers in Virginia include Marker # C-2 in Arlington, Virginia on Route 50 and Pershing Drive at Fort Myer. On September 9, 1908, near this site, Orville Wright took on board the first passenger, Lt. Frank P. Lahm, for a flight lasting 9 minutes and six seconds.

COMPANY NEWS: After you've walked your tootsies off seeing the sights in Washington, DC ask us about our Gilt-Edge "Golden Touch" massage services done in-room at your hotel by a certified massage therapist who'll give you a Swedish massage to take away the aches and fatigue of seeing all those museums in one day. We've contracted with massage therapist Ed Surma to offer his services to our clients. Price sheet available on demand.

QUICK FACT: When traveling abroad spread your money, credit cards and ID over several pockets or purses or money belts. In other words, don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Thanks for dropping by. If you would like to be added or removed from the Gilt-Edge Travelers Notebook please do so below by sending an email address.


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