The unrepresented city

Trip Start Jun 26, 2006
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Trip End Feb 28, 2007


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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Friday, September 22, 2006

On to Washington DC....Arrived a little later than planned...as we arrived just after the bus for washington left, having not checked the times of the buses before hand! So had to wait a while for the next one...arrived late too, but then whats new. Found the bus and the stop we had to get off with out too much problem. The area we had arrived in looked interesting to say the least, definately a black community, with its caribbean cafes and barber shops, and not the type of area you would expect to have a hostel! Couldn't find the hostel at first, cause it had no signs and was just a house. Was a little worried when we first entered, it looked small and a little odd...but turned out to be quite cute...and we got double beds for $15 per night each! Decided it had been a long day and we were hungry, so we headed for Popeyes chicken and biscuits! Was a dodgy little place, bit rough round the edges...but the food was good...chicken and fries...altough you could have alsorts of different things like beans and rice and mashed potato. The biscuits are way cool....kinda like scones...seem to be very popular round here.

Then we messed on the free internet for a while....before heading to the supermarket, which was supposed to be 5 blocks away...but was actually miles! Stocked up on basics then headed back to the hostel, where we sat drinking the remainder of the rum on the verandah.

Day 2

Our first day exploring washington...i was hoping it was going to turn out to be a little nicer than the washington i had seen so far! Got the bus into the centre...where we got our first proper glimpse of the Capitol building. Big, white and shiny! Walked round to the front of it...past the thousands of parked cars and roadworks (is there anywhere in the US that isn't under construction right now?). Saw our first monument...an interesting modern structure that housed various bells...a memorial to Taft (not the president, but his son apparantly) i believe? You will have to do your research on that one if ya wanna know more!
Then we went to see if we could get our first set of free tickets for the day. We figured as it was friday...it would be a good day to get all the touristy things out of the way. Despite the fact that it was 11am, we got tickets for later in the day. so we had to find something else to do until then! Decided to check out the Native American museum quickly....having already done one in Canada...turned out to be pretty cool, far too much to read though, and most of its 'stuff' was canadian!
Next we decided that if we also wanted to go up the washington monument that day we had better get tickets for that too! Walked miles down the mall, got our tickets then decided we would get some food while we were waiting...but hey guess what...no food in sight. Hey i tell you what, sod and his law are sure having some fun with us!!! Walked all the way into downtown...but still couldn't find anywhere...loads of starbucks...cause we didn't want a coffee...but no macdonalds in sight! Who said there is a macdonalds on every corner?????? Eventually found a quiznos...guzzled down a yummmy sandwhich then it was back to the monument for our tour. Needed a wee on the way, so decided the tourist info would be a good place. But low and behold there were armed security on the door, and passports and xray checks were required prior to toilet entry. Turned out even toilets inside federal buildings were on security alert. I know my poos smell but i really dont need them id-ing and xraying!!!!!!!!
Had to wait ages at the monument..they were only letting a few in at a time...because of the damn security! New it would be bad...and it was! After being let in and going thrrough the usual metal detector senario...we were allowed in the lift. Yes they have a lift....its a long way to the top! Inside the lift...a funny ranger told us a few interesting facts, then we were there...and apparantly the monument is not about the views its about Washington - the first president that is...not the place...or it would be about the views!!!!
The views were pretty cool though...they looked like tiny little windows from the ground, but were huge when you were at the top, which just shows how high it is. could see the whole of washington, including the white house and pentagon...and what was really cool was you could see the original design of the city...with its perfect patterns of straight and diagonal lines...which you can't appreciate from the ground. Then it was back to the lift...where they opened the windows on the way down so we could see the inlaid stones donated by all the states of american and loads of other organisations. Kinda freaky to be a lift with the windows open...but was cool to see the stuff as we went down!

Back on the ground...read all the stuff bout washington...then it time to dash back to the capitol building for our next tour. We were late setting off on the tour...our tour was 3:30, it was 3:45 before we went in and considering it was an hour tour and the place shut at 4:30, knew it was going to be interesting! Knew there would be more security...but it turned out to be the easiest of the lot in washington...which is kinda wierd considering it is the federal building! Took us into the rotunda....with its monstrous dome....and its fresco on the ceiling of Washington...surrounded by angels and various other important people...also had a cool fresco round the walls of the dome, depicting important events in american history, which looked 3D, but did take like 100years to finish! Then saw loads of statues and that was about it! Turns out they don't use the building anymore except to show tourists the millions of statues they keep there! There were some cool statues it had to be said...apparantly the rule is each state can have two statues each...they have to be made of marble or bronze...and can change them anytime they like...to anyone they like as long as they are dead! The best two were the astronaut, which was a bronze statue wearing a spacesuit and the one of the native american chief. Checked out the tiny old courthouse, then got kicked out. Needed a drink, so decided to head to the train station as we had been told it was worth a look. It was worth a look, it was very impressive, felt like a grand station in europe...only difference was it was being used more as a mall than a train station...with its huge food court and cinema! Got our soda though, then it was back to the hostel.
Rushed back in time to ring my mum, as arranged....but she wasn't there...and had changed her plans without telling me!!! So we walked to the supermarket again....bought more food and cheap wine, then walked the six million miles back to the hostel where we cooked sausage and mash, drank wine and tried to escape from all the mad people in the hostel!

Day 3

Woke up, with lots of Washington still to explore and lots of plans to sort out in our heads. Headed for the space museum first, sounded cool and had heaps of cool space stuff in it, something we didn't get to see in england...not having a space program and all that. The place was huge, with masses to see and heaps to read. Spent quite a while seeing the space exploration bit...was kinda cool...all about the great space race...and they had real rockets and spacesuits and landing pods...they even had a whole display with the original lunar landing craft...and replica spacemen...was kinda fascinating...even got to touch a bit of moon rock! Then ran round the planets bit...we have both been there, done that, got the t-shirt...was kinda funny seeing the sign that read 'in memorandum of pluto....' cause it is no longer a planet and so all the info in the museum was wrong! Don't get why they changed it, apparantly its cause pluto is too small, and there are too many bits around it, which if it was a planet it would have consumed? Its all alien to me!!!!
Then checked out some huge planes they have there..and the balloon pod which went round the world...before deciding it was lunchtime in the biggest and most expensive macdonalds ever! Time after lunch to check out more planes...exhibits on the wars and its planes...the first planes and the actual wright brothers first plane! We could have stayed there all day...well we almost did...so decided we should think about leaving.
I was pretty tired by this point...not that that was going to stop us...no sireee...we had plenty more to see. Stopped at the vistors centre on the way...in the smithsonian castle....wanted to find out about the zoo for tomorrow...had no luck with the zoo, but did find a cool collection of stuff from all the different museums and the resting place of Mr John Smithson himself, not the place he was originally buried...that was in England...but when the english threatened to use his graveyard for something else the americans had him flown over to Washington, where he how has a marble urn! Don't blame them, the guy deserves it...having donated all his money to the US, where he had never been, for the future education of the nation. The museums his money founded are amazing...which just shows how rich he must have been!!!!
Then we had to go and see all the monuments of washington, and there are quite a few!
Number 1 was the brand spanking new world war memorial. Was very nice and very big...with a huge monstrous and not at all peaceful fountain.
Number 2 was the little island dedicated to the signers of the original declaration, which felt very insignificant and neglected, next to the rest of the monuments.
Number 3 was the boring Vietnam memorial...a stubby black marble wall with lots of names written on it...apparantly the most visited?
Number 4
The very cool but kinda spooky korean war memorial. Various soldier statues, looking serious and a little sad, in a garden area....kinda seemed more real than any of the others and more thought provoking.
Number 5
This was a future memorial rather than an actual one. They had put a plaque there to mark the spot of a Martin Luther King memorial several years ago...but its still there...so it seems as if they forget they put it there?
Number 6 was the 'oh-my-god' Lincoln memorial. A huge temple like structure...than was monstrous when you stood next to it, but was certainly impressive....with an absolutely monstrous statue of Lincoln in a huge chair and various quotes of his. The size of it just left you owe-struck!
Number 7, round the edge of the lake was the Roosevelt memorial, my favourite. This was much more subtle, while still being huge. It had more parts to it, several fountains and waterfalls and more words, so you seemed to understand more what the guy was more about. It had cool red rock sculptures too.
Number 8 and the last
was the Jefferson memorial, a huge round white building, with another huge statue in it...and various qoutes mainly from the declaration of independence which he wrote. Cool but way too big! Did go to the toilet while were here (bit wierd having toilets in the memorial but hey i was glad of em!) and watched quite a cool video on peace and Liberty.
Wayhey we had finished seeing all the monuments! Or so i thought. Iwas dead and all monumented out...but oh no, neil had one more up his sleeve! The white house.

Was easy to find, despite the fact it is small and hidden by trees as we just followed the tourists. There were heaps of them hanging around the railings...trying to get a good photo. Problem is with the tightened security you can't get near the place anymore. It is kinda cute and very pretty, can't be a bad place to live! Not sure about having loads of snipers on my roof though!!!

Finally got to go back to the hostel. It was late, almost dark infact and i was exhausted! Back at the hostle, guzzled the beer left for us by some nice guests the night before, then sat and ate toast and marmelade and drank tea, as we couldn't be bothered to go to the shop for anything else!

Actually made a decision too, on what we were going to do for the next few weeks! Kinda a good job really as it is only a few days away....

Day 4, actually 3 but amy says its four so.... its four

Today we were gonna go to the zoo..... but woke up to forecasts of severe storms. Its hurricane season out here so severe could actually be severe! So we decided a bad weather day was a good excuse to wander around more museums.
First was the american museum of natural history.... had some really cool animals, stuffed but enough to say amy had actually got her zoo. Also had loads of dinosaur skeletons which was fun. Upstairs there were tons of cool rocks and minerals, none incredible as we've seen lots before, apart from the worlds biggest crystal ball which was kinda fun. Hope diamond was disappointing as its tiny. Amy got freaked out by the earthquake monitor, it hadnt occured to her we were gonna be travelling through one of the biggest spots for earthquakes in the world!!!!!!
Then we headed off to find lunch trying to avoid the security we'd met the previous day. Failed hopelessly by going into the post office - another federal building and national park!!! Was a cool food court where we shared chinese and soda, watching the tourists having pics made up of them snogging George Bush!!!! Then as the post office tour was free we thought we should take a look. Headed up a really cool glass lift to the top where we had cool views of the city. Not as high as the washington monument but was kinda cool cos you could watch wot was going on below. Then a peek at the bells, modelled on the westminster abbey bells - a gift from england.
After all that excitement we went to the American National Art Gallery where there was tons of art.... surprisingly. Not much stuff by the guys we know but some kinda cool early american stuff., Was all layed out in a cool way tho with a couple of gardens and strategically placed sculpture.
After a peek in the National Archives at the Magna Carta, declaration of independence, constitution and bill of rights, all showing servere signs of age, it was time for a beer!!!!!
Yep you heard me right, we'd decided rather than take advantage of the cheap accomadation and pay of some of the trips overspend so far we decided to take better advantage and have some yummy beer!!!! After discovering it was happy hour at The Capitol Brewing Company, that turned into a couple of beers each, spicy tacos and a huge plate of chilli, cheesy Nachos!
After which Amy went to bed and i wasted the night away!

Day 5

Today we actually got to go to the zoo. We decided as it was our last day we were going to go whatever the weather, it turned out to be a pleasant warm and sunny day!
We got the bus into downtown, where we were supposed to be getting another bus to the zoo. I complained cos we had to wait 25mins for the next bus...and so neil suggested we start walking, which seemed like a good idea, till we lost the bus route and all the bus stops and ended up having to walk the whole way! Now don't get me wrong it was a pleasant walk but it killed me before we started!!!
Finally arrived at the lovely free zoo...and tried to find refreshments, but they were closed, it being out of season and all...and instead found the giant pandas! They were really cute and we chilled watching them munch on their bamboo for a while.
Then we continued our search of refreshments...found an open cafe and had very expensive coke...but i guess they got to pay for the animals upkeep somehow...right?
Animal time...saw elephants...who didn't look that happy...and a loney giraffe. Hippos and a pygmy hippo. Millions of birds...all really colourful and unusual...wolves which you could actually see and were awake. An amazon place, complete with jungle and monstrous fish and crocodiles....neils favourite the beavers...who weren't hiding for once and my favourite the small mammal house with its cute furry things and the very wierd naked mole rats and their even wierder little babies. The insect house was horrible...i hate insects...so why am i going to South America? The worst bit was the huge mass of cobwebs and huge spiders (i couldn't look), that weren't even behind glass!
Had lunch of shared fries with chilli and cheese...too expensive for anything else...then saw the usual asleep lions, tigers and other huge cats. And that was the zoo!
Had coffee on the way back...people watching...then it was back to the hostel to waste a few hours before a another long greyhound journey. Enjoyed a feast of popeyes chicken and biscuits before leaving...and it was goodbye Washington...and after 4 cities in 12 days it was bloody well time for a rest!!!!!!!!!!
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Comments

jrocjetti
jrocjetti on

Martin Luther King Memorial Update
Interesting travel report. Sounds like you hit many of DC's top sites.

In your post you mentioned the spot where there is a plaque marking the spot for a Martin Luther King Memorial. There was a ground breaking event in DC this week for the new memorial. It should be completed in a couple years but the organization still needs to raise more money before they can start building the memorial.

Hope you get a chance to returnto DC. If so, check out my DC travel blog, www.theDCtraveler.com.

It's full of fun things to do in DC.
Cheers
Jon
www.theDCtraveler.com

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