18th - 22nd September
18.09.2011 - 22.09.2011
Starts with ‘D’ and ends in ‘C’ and that’s all I need to spell….. It’s DC (The Washington variety!)
I got to The capital of America, early evening on Sunday and headed the wrong way out of the greyhound (I should’ve taken left turns instead of rights) nevertheless I found a metro station and followed the easy directions to my hostel, The Washington International Student Center, (Review will be at the end) Id booked two nights and feeling still a little worse for wear I had a relaxed sorting my clothes session and a small walk around the streets and a drink before heading to bed!
The Horrible feeling still hadn’t lifted in the morning but I felt a little better, an easy morning spilled into the afternoon and I headed out a little after 4 to explore (Rhyme intended) I walked to the centre of Washington, towards the White House (north front) It is was very elegant and as I write this I know that is forms part of an extremely elegant city, from there I walked over to the Washington Monument to take some sunset pictures and to people watch, (the amount of joggers around the centre is incredible, it’s always nice to feel relaxed whilst others around you have swissues (sweat issues) and look absolutely tired!)
7pm arrived and it was time to start a free walking tour
- the only company that does free walking tours http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/dc/ check out their website for schedules!
It took a 2 hour route from the Washington monument, all the way down to the Lincoln memorial, which should really take 15 mins to walk but the guide, Chris was so fantastic with his history knowledge and the animated approach he had to talking about everything, as it was 7pm it was dusk, turning into night and the lights on all the monuments we saw made it even more stunning and powerful to be around, The WW2 memorial was beautiful and silencing especially in the darkness of the night and along with that the Vietnam memorial, which I could remember looking at when I was here at 14 on the exchange, again Chris was clued in on the history and the stories he was telling made it so much more interesting.
We ended at the Lincoln memorial, again my memories of 14 hit me again although when I came the reflecting pool that lead from the WW2 memorial to the Lincoln was open, but now at this time its undergoing some major work to make it a lot prettier, which means I have to come back! I took some time to sit on the steps and relax and let the world go by really, it was peaceful and the lights made it a stunning place to be sitting.
In my inspired state I decided to visit every other monument! The Korean war memorial, which In the evening certainly has a bigger effect on me, it features grey/ silver statues all walking into battle and as you walk you can see their reflection to make it look like your walking amongst them. I visited the newly opened Martin Luther King Junior memorial, with my new found love for MLK from the Memphis trip I stayed along time reading his most famous quotes
‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’ enough said.
From there I went to sit at the edge of the Potomac lake east where it was silent, no one was around, possibly had a little sing song to myself, but I’d never tell you for sure, lots of mozzy bites though so maybe I didn’t put on such a good performance.
Monuments still in my mind I walked round the lake to the Jefferson memorial, which was deserted (as it was about midnight) so (apologies mother/ father) I skipped over the barrier to walk inside and sat on the steps to look at the lake, and planes coming into land (which do get scarily close to the city) technically I was trespassing, but I was relaxed and when people say they are at one with something I guess that was me. Lovely evening. Bed
Morning and before I headed out I decided that I needed two more nights to really see everything in Washington without rushing it!
I had a weird obsession to visit the Pentagon as it is kind of important in America,
- it’s on the blue line heading west towards Franconia
At first I took the wrong metro, got off at a stop close to the blue line but quickly realised there was a huge highway in the middle of my route back to the blue line community! So defeated I had to re-board! I stopped briefly at the Arlington cemetery which is a stop before the Pentagon, I didn’t do it justice, I walked briefly towards it and at the entrance realised I wasn’t too excited so headed back to blue line for one more stop!
When you get out at the Pentagon, you are either a tourist or someone very important with several passes to help you get in and out, in my Hawaiian shorts I was immediately placed in the tourist category and pointed the direction to a pentagon memorial, ‘No pictures’ huge signs were labelled everywhere but I sneaked a quick pentagon pic as I headed to the memorial, Unfortunately I took my picture of the memorial in a restricted car park (best view and all that) Called over by the security guard he wanted to see why I was there, he checked the first picture (which I got away with) but then when asked to flick through he found my Pentagon snap, (He was not impressed) he took me to an office where he took my SD card from me put the pictures on a computer screen where he deleted the picture, along with one of the station! (I think I was in the rebellious mood from my trespass the previous day) I walked away with in one piece but without my two pictures and also my dignity!
The afternoon I decided would be a museum time! With so many free Smithsonian places to visit without paying means you can see and learn for free for as long as you like, They are all found on the National Mall and the first was the air and space, where I spent a lot of time looking at the space side of things, with developing technology in the telescope department, the potential world’s largest is being built now and will be finished in 2015, Space is fascinating. I spent the shortest time here, possibly a combination a random placing of exhibits and also because I was still in shock of ‘Pentagon-gate ‘
American Natural history was the next and I won’t bore you with the things you’d expect to see in a natural history museum, although the exhibit that shows evolution is huge and so detailed it took at least 30 minutes to go through it (which I did) it really has hard hitting facts and evidence!
I stopped for a small pit stop in the sculpture garden where my favourite was a house that created illusions, it was a relaxing place and being a big fan of fountains I sat around a gigantic one for a couple of minutes just to have a break! I also caught a faraway look at the capitol building, which I maybe should’ve gone to see up close.
American history museum was last in my tour and it was set out really well, lot less random like the air and space, I spent a long time reading about the civil war (im becoming a really big fan of history) also enjoyed the objects from the media, where I saw a Baywatch poster that (according to a 60 year oldish man) was in every boys dorm room back in his day, I could see why! (What a lad)
I headed back to the hostel and was greeted by several different people in my hostel room, with whom I chatted too all evening, then went out for eats and drinks, One very interesting guy, Wamara is a journalist that is well and truly on his way, he showed me pictures of him and Obama, actual pictures not the touristy things you can make yourself, this guy was some serious stuff. Drinks were expensive but good beer, I ate a chicken Caesar salad which was absolutely amazing!
A self-inflicted headache greeted me the next morning so I took it easy for the morning, in the afternoon I went down the old post office, which has the second highest viewing point of the city, (the first is the Washington monument but it was closed due to the recent hurricane) I spent a long time in the place, up in the tower and down in the food/shopping court I definitely remembered it from my Year 9 visit, the weather was clear and I could see miles from all four sides of the towers, got some good pictures!
Then I managed to get over to the National archives to see many different forms of media from old to new, and of course the declaration of independence and the bill of rights which both were hugely popular, queuing for at least 15 minutes to get into the room, but it did feel special to see, one of my choices to see again is the world war 2 food media exhibition that was there, im not sure whether some of them were meant to be funny but I did see some comedy posters!
On a recommendation I headed to a shopping mall to finally buy myself some new clothes, a place called Marshalls which I would compare to TK Maxx was the store that had been suggested, I came out with some new jeans, shorts and other bits and bobs, it was a good shop I would say.
With half a day left on the Thursday I decided to make sure I saw the Capitol building up close and also see the grandeur that is Union station, both were beautifully structured and built, it was two great sights to see before I headed to the greyhound for my next trip!
Washington has set the bar high as far as places go, such a well thought out and beautiful city to be in, it’s the first place ive visited where I know I want to coming back again and again!
- Washington international student center was an easy place to find and right in the heart of all the action as far as restaurants and bars go, the place is busy all the time meaning that you can meet and speak to a whole range of different people, the owner, Steve takes time to get use to but if you take him with a pinch of salt every time he says anything you can easily get along with him, one tip that I found he likes good reviews so if you deal with him to stay one more night for free for a good review he usually will go for it.
Breakfast can’t really be called breakfast although there is free milk and bread throughout the day so take advantage!!