The Centre of Power

Trip Start May 04, 2011
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Trip End Feb 20, 2014


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What I did
Lots of Pillared Buildings

Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Friday, April 13, 2012

The flight from Toronto to Washington DC was only an hour – thank god for that because I sat next to an incredible chatter box who gave me every detail of her first major overseas trip to Italy. A nice woman, but just a bit much for a stranger – she even brought her 9 year old daughter over to meet me whilst we waited forever at the baggage collection carousel. Surprisingly, there is no subway or bus system running from the main DC airport and I had to pay $80 (!) for a cab to my hotel (including tip). I tell ya, people who say the USA is cheap need to fly in and out of airports and be a tourist for a couple of weeks...I think they eat so much fast food cause u don't have to pay a tip and therefore the meal price is cheaper. Or maybe I am tipping too much...unlikely. So, anywho. The app I use to track my itinerary failed me and I got dropped off at the wrong hotel address. Soon enough I found the right address and got another cab for the short trip to the right place where I was quite impressed by my apartment. I booked this hotel thru a website where u don’t know the name/location of the hotel until after u’ve paid. It is a way to get really cheap places that don’t want to advertise the fact that they discount. The quality of the place was perfect, but the location was too far out from the tourist stuff and nothing to do within the vicinity unless u walked 15 mins into Chinatown. I intended to cook at least one of the nights, but couldn’t find a grocery store anywhere within DC. crazy. Couldn’t even find a place to buy milk. So, I had this awesome kitchen but nothing to cook.

I didn’t want to push myself too hard in DC. Key objectives were to sleep before returning to work, see the White House, and tour the Capitol (Parliament) building. Anything else was a bonus in my eyes. So, day 1 I set off to see the White House via the subway. There were so many people here for an Easter egg kids thing and school groups galore. For the remainder of my trip, I was surrounded by school kids and loads and loads of people. I reckon it was the busiest place I have ever travelled to and I have no idea why it was so busy. I thought it was school holidays so why all the school groups??? It just made me annoyed and not wanting to queue my life away to see the American constitution or other stuff – hell, I haven’t even seen the Australian constitution so why should I care about the US one. So, I left the White House for another day and decided to do the monuments and memorials since I wouldn’t have to queue or battle crowds. I followed a self-guided tour I found on the internet and did all the monuments in 2.5 hrs which is a big walk! The reflecting pond out front of the Lincoln Memorial is being renovated and so no water in it! That sucked cause I wanted to re-enact the scene from Forrest Gump when Jenny jumps in the pond and wades across to Forrest. Darn. Plus, I was expecting all the Cherry Blossom trees to be flowering as they have celebration signs up everywhere for the 100th anniversary of the festival, but all the bloomin is done.

The next day was a trip to the Supreme Court, pre-organised tour of the Capitol, and then back to the White House for a photo opportunity. No face time with the Obama’s though. I enjoyed the Court, but found the Capitol tour a bit dull mainly because the tour guide was just going thru the motions. But I was able to go into the House of Reps chamber which not everyone gets into. No photos allowed in here, but interesting to be inside a place u frequently see on TV and commonly associate with the US Congress. The White House is a lot smaller than I thought, but a cool moment to see it in person. I constantly had visions from the movie 'Independence Day’ of these buildings being blown up by alien spaceships...

Day 3 was museum day. There are loads of museums here and most are free and all next to each other down the main mall connecting Congress to the Washington Monument. I spent a long time in the Newseum (all news history) and then the Air & Space Museum where many original planes and space capsules are stored and I watched Hubble 3D – an IMAX movie on the Hubble telescope. Quite fascinating and way too much stuff in these museums to cover in a few hours & remain interested, plus my back was aching after days of walking around. The crowds in these places are also too much and was really starting to grate my nerves in the gift shop at the Space Museum where I almost had a meltdown trying to get to the counter.

For my final day, my flight back to Ghana was not until 11pm, so I checked out and wanted to go to the National Archives to see the constitution and original Declaration of Independence, but the line was ridiculously long and I instead went to the Spy Museum which was no doubt far more interesting and although a bit kiddy, it did have some fascinating gadgets etc from spy days gone by. I then trained across town into Virginia to see the Pentagon and then Arlington Cemetery, where soldiers, Presidents and significant others are buried. I easily got to the Pentagon and visited the Sept 11 memorial, but then got way lost trying to find entrance to the cemetery. Man, I walked an extra 2km more than what I needed to and I was pissed off. But, having retraced my steps all the way back to the same Pentagon subway stop, I took another train to the cemetery and was glad that I did eventually get there. With plans to go to the D-Day landings cemetery in July, I wanted to see this American one as well. A very compelling moment to stand at the top of the hill and look out over so many simple white headstones and think of all those who have died in battle. A good way to end the trip. It definitely feels like a long one and full of a mixed bag of everything.

And so my trip to the USA and Canada came to a close with a 10 hr flight back to Ghana. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type in my life.
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