Sightseeing during Washington closedown

Trip Start Sep 03, 2013
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Trip End Oct 08, 2013


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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Thursday, October 3, 2013

We had an early start.  The weather reports said it was going to be quite warm and so we wore light things.  Left at 8am and picked up the Washington Guide.  Was told immediately that because of the closedown of the monuments then the usual public toilets would also be closed and that could present a problem.  We were offered a toilet immediately and told the next one would only come about 2 hours later.  Most people took up the offer of the toilet.  It had been specially arranged by the guide in one of the public buildings that had been closed down and so we had to leave absolutely everything on the coach because we would have to go through security screening - and the bus could only be in the spot for 10 mins maximum.  We made it with time to spare and all streamed through security without a hitch.  The building inside (Old Post Office) was quite lovely but didn't have time to look properly.  Was told it had been bought by Donald Trump and was going to be turned into a hotel.

So, we went to see the White House but couldn't get too close.  I'd always seen people peering through the railings - but we weren't even allowed that close.  Lots of cops around on bikes.  In the distance we could see the Washington Monument - a tall obelisk thing that was covered in scaffolding as it was being repaired after being damanged by an earthquake a few years ago.

Went to US Capitol building and cavorted on the lawn, posing for photos.  Everything was being done to split second timing to fit everything in.  From there to the Lincoln Memorial (from a distance because it was closed) and in the park nearby was a memorial to the soldiers in VietNam, the women who were in the VietNam war and another one for the Korean War.  The VietNam war memorial was under the ground to represent the dead and was a very clever concept.  For dramatic design though, my vote went to the memorial to the Korean War.  There were soldiers walking through undergrowth and because they couldn't have the numbers they wanted, their was a wall that mirrored the images to make it look as though there were more figures there.  It was great.

In passing took photos of the WWII memorial and just beyond that there was the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. 

From there went to Arlington Cemetary (and our second loo break) and walked up the hill to see the Kennedy memorial - along with Jaqui and their two babies who died early, Nearby was Ted, Bobbie and Joseph.  The brothers were just small wooden crosses and not the huge structure for John.  It seems like the Americans like their Presidents better when they're dead.

The information centre was quite good and had some photos of the Kennedy funeral.  Also was surprised to see that Audie Murphy was buried there and recognised for his service in WWII.

There was nothing else to go to because all the Smithsonian museums (about 9 of them) were all closed due to the shutdown.  Our guide had prepared a list of museums that WERE open and Melba and I were the only ones to elect to go to the Newseum.  Fantastic play on words of News and Museum.  We looked at all the Pulitzer prize winners since the award had started and watched some of interviews with the people who'd taken the photos.  There weren't many cute ones and a lot of really agonizing ones of war.

Had a bit to eat before going through the Kennedy exhibition.  Took a photo of Jacqueline Kennedy's dress because it was so skinny.  Went outside on the terrace where there was an exhibition of photographs recording some of the events that had occurred in Pennsylvania Avenue (the main drag from Capitol Hill to the White House.  This is where the Presidents paraded after inauguration.  Some drove, some drove, one took his wife, Carter was the first one to walk the distance - and since then all the Presidents have done the same.

They were showing a 4D movie at the museum and so we had to sample it.  It was a 3D movie of news items from the past - but the chair moved as well, just like in a Disney ride.  It was good fun.  It only lasted 40 minutes which was a shame, was finished far too quickly.

When we came out of the movie there was a panic on Capitol Hill and was flashing the main news screen in the museum - everyone was standing around watching the news - shots had been fired and there was talking of closing everything down.

We had finished with the museum and a fantastic information office there told us that we could get some good shopping at Georgetown - and told us the bus numbers and it would only cost $1 for the bus fare.  So off we went.Georgetown was lovely.  Not quite the shopping centre we thought it would be.  We walked up and down the streets and had stayed there such a long time that it was time for dinner.  We ate in a French restaurant.  I had an American Beer - brewed in Boston.

We caught a different bus home (The Circular) and it brought us all the way back to Union Station which was only about 4 blocks from our hotel.  This is the only hotel of the trip which is a reasonable distance from the Centre and in an area which seems to be full of construction.  Would rate this the lowest of all the hotels.

We have a big driving day tomorrow to get to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side and have to be up early.  Bought an apple in a nearby supermarket for lunch tomorrow (and some potato chips as well in case you think I am eating totally healthily).
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