Washington DC - home of political evil
Trip Start Sep 25, 2008
21Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Anyway - staying at the HI Hostel again - they are fine. rather instiutional but as far as I have experienced the staff are helpful and pleasant and everything is mostly clean.
Washington is a great City. Wide streets which are gleaming and clean and all of the Smithsonian museums are free. Which is amazing and very handy for a poor traveler!
On Friday I took a walk downtown to the Washington Monument which is much bigger than you would imagine it - really dominates the city. Also walked past the Whitehouse, which is an oddity - it is just there, on the street. I expected it to be set back more. I'm sure that you wouldn't get half a foot inside the compund before you got shot though, however open it all looks!
Met Craig (my friend who lives in DC) for a massive sandwich (American food does not seem to come in anything smaller than massive) and a walk round a garden at the back of the Smithsonian Castle. Which was delightful - a real hidden gem. Then with Craig back off to work, I went to the National Archives and queued for an inordinate amount of time to see the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Which were..... old. To be honest, they didn't stir much emotion in me, but I suppose that it might be different if it was the building blocks of your country.
I then bought an icecream and settled down by the fountain in the Sculpture Garden for a relax in the sun, my half eaten icecream in my hand beside me on the bench. And that is when the drama started. They must feed the squirrels in that garden because this rather bold fellow marched up the bench to me and before I could react he had mistaken my finger for my last bit of icecrem cone and clamped on.Yes, I was bitten by a squirrel and the swine drew blood.
I don't think too much of this and wander off to the Museum of Natural History - they have a great minerals department and I took way too many close up photos of rock formations. It was nerdvana. So I start thinking that maybe squirrels mouths aren't that clean and I pop to a pharmacy to buy some antispetic and tell the tale to the pharmacist who tells me that it could be rabid and I need to see a doctor sharpish. Cue three hours in Washington University Hospital Emergency Department while they try to figure out what to do with me. Fun. It was like being in a really boring and long episode of ER.
Turns out that rabies in squirrels is very rare and there has never been a case of tranmission to humans in the States so they figured that I was safe. This decision cost me $360! And then a further $70 for the antibiotics to ward off any other nasties. American healthcare is not a good thing.
So with the horrifying attack behind me, Saturday was Craig's birthday so we met for breakfast before heading off to the zoo. Which was incredible fun. Four hours and at least four mile later we had seen all that the zoo had to offer (including pandas and a close up encounter with an Orag-u-tan) and we headed off for dinner at Old Ebbits Grill. We shared the most amazing cheeseboard to start and then I had hickory smoked ribs with cornbread and green beans and Craig has chicken and veg fettucine with goats cheese - it was the most amazing meal I have had in a while.
Then a stroll round the Washington Monument and the Second World War Museum and then off back to the White House to give Dubya the finger. There is photographic evidence of this. Brillant day all round.
Today, I took in as many museums as I could fit in. The International Spy Museum which was much fun but as the only one I paid for felt a bit pricy at $18. It was big and comprehensive though, so I suppose I shouldn't grumble! I then bought a hotdog and wandered over to the Botanical Gardens and took way too many photos in their jungle conservatory. The orchids were spectacular though. I then popped into the Hirschbourne which is a modern art museum and I admired and mocked their exhibits in equal measure. Their shop was the best though - they had bags made out of old film posters - I really had to hold myself back on that one. No room in the backpack for souveniers yet. And I finished the day at the Freer Gallery which has the most amazing collection of Asian Art. Their ancient Chinese paintings are just breathtaking.
Leaving in the morning for my epic journey to Toronto and leaving The States for a month. DC has been excellent and I didn't do half of the things that I wanted to so I will have to come back one day.