July 4th in Washington, D.C.

Last year, my summer international internship gave me the opportunity to travel from Kosovo to Portaria to spend July 4th on the coast of Greece. Again, I had an unforgettable Independence Day through my summer internship, this time on USIP's rooftop terrace in Washington, D.C. 

While the fireworks show was a huge highlight, the entire July 4th weekend was memorable. USIP was closed on Friday for the holiday weekend, which gave me the chance to visit a friend in Baltimore, who I studied abroad with several years ago. As I mentioned a few blogs ago, I've gotten the chance to explore Baltimore a little since D.C. is just a MARC train ride away, but Friday was the first time I got to explore its gorgeous Inner Harbor. First, my friend and I surveyed the harbor on Federal Hill before walking down for a closer look. 

The next day, my friends and I had a low-key morning and afternoon in D.C. dodging the crowds that were celebrating throughout the day. We did make it out to the famous and delicious Georgetown Cupcakes for an afternoon snack: 

Afterwards, we killed time by watching a movie in Gallery Place before heading to USIP for the fireworks show. I have to say, I was extremely lucky - tickets to watch the fireworks are given on a first-come-first-serve basis after a staff-wide email is mailed out about it weeks in advance. My friends and I were originally on the waitlist, but we miraculously got off of it just days before the 4th of July. We were grateful to have such a good spot to view the fireworks:

The fireworks were so close that you could feel your ribcage vibrating. It was the most impressive fireworks show I've ever seen, fitting for the nation's capital. When the fireworks concluded, the crowd watching the fireworks below erupted into a "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" chant. We then joined the throngs walking up 23rd street away from the National Mall. Such a great night.

At work, I finalized the first draft of the memo on freedom of information laws as anti-corruption tools. And, of course, I've continued my exploration of D.C. restaurants on the side. This week, I ventured to the Shaw area of D.C. to a delicious Czech restaurant called Bistro Bohem. Since I studied in the Czech Republic during college, I was very excited to be reaquainted with the cuisine:

Afterwards, I got to see a little more of the Shaw neighborhood:

This past weekend, I journeyed to the mountains of North Carolina for a close friend's engagement party:

Whether domestic or abroad, I always love a good excuse to travel. I had a wonderful time celebrating my friend's upcoming marriage and enjoyed the gorgeous countryside in North Carolina along the way.