DC, train & NYC again

Trip Start Oct 08, 2013
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Trip End Nov 18, 2013


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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This entry covers our two days in Washington DC and train trip back to NYC on Wednesay,

Monday was Veterans Day and the pride and respect that the americans hold their past and present service men and women was unlike anything we see at home. 'Thank you for your sevice' was a refrain we heard regularly whenever someone in uniform or had some sort of insignia or something indicating that they had or were serving walked by or were to be served to get a drink or meal, etc.

We woke to a rather chilly morning with a cold breeze. Even the doorman wished us 'keep warm' when we left the hotel. That was a hint of what was to come. Today was a bus day and night tour.

The tours were a great way of covering a lot of area, getting the commentary which explained the history, the stories of the different places of interest, laced with lots of humour. It felt like NYC in terms of recognisable buildings, landmarks, street names and history. The statues and monuments were all around and too many to mention.

After the tour, we went to The Capitol and took a tour inside. We took a stroll down the national mall and remembered the various movies and historical moments that featured the mall. Taking in the various museums, art galleries and the like made us realise that we didn't set aside enough time for Washington. We needed a few more days!

After dinner, we took a night tour and the lighting was outstanding. The monuments looked quite diffferent and well worth the effort to visit at night. The tour took us out to some of the more iconic monuments including the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans war memorial, and the amazing US Marine Corp memorial -the one with the guys putting up the flag. It was a chilly fall night and the cold definitely affected our comfort levels and desire to walk around on the tour.

The next day, we went off to the Arlington Cemetery. I wanted to watch the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier and Gabe wanted to look for the graves of some famous people. I've been to a number of military cemeteries before this trip but Arlington was quite moving. When you see row after row of white headstones, immaculate grounds, when you see a horse drawn hearse with fully dressed military escorts going by, and you are told that the cemetery will have 'full' sign soon, you know the cost to this country has been, and continues to be high. There were graves here from The Civil War right through every conflict....till today's current conflicts, right or wrong.

Did you know that the grounds were actually part of land belonging to General Robert E Lee? Yes the famous general that ordered the infamous battle of Gettysburg.

Little did we know that we were visiting Arlington in the month of the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. Apparently they were preparing to replace the eternal flame at his grave/memorial. There were also lots of specials on tv regarding the assassination, new theories about what actually happened, etc. Well the JFK memorial was simple and the changing of the guard quite moving.

Security was obvious wherever you went in Washington. You may recall about two months ago a woman had tried to drive through to the White House ...the phrase constant vigilance came to mind. We popped into the National Air and Space Musem, back to the museum of American History, and visited the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

I confess we went to the last museum not for the displays... So many locals had recommended the Mitsitam Cafe for something different-indigenous meals. It was delish with different dishes and ingredients that we were unfamilar with. There were some that were familuar though, such as nachos, burritos but with different fillings.

Did you know mitsitam means 'lets eat!' in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples? Talking about Delaware, that was a state that we had lunch in-Newark to be exact! I digress... Whilst in the museum, we strolled around their meeting area and admired the various flags of each community. The meeting area had obviously been strongly influenced by the Guggenheim in NYC with the spiral interior space.

For dinner, we ate in Chinatown....lol...its even smaller than Chinatown in Brisbane...no....smaller than Sunnybank... We don't think just because the area had an arch at the top of a street entitles an area to call itself a Chinatown. But apparently, this place did. Gabe reckoned it was non existent.

Anyway, that night we went to the Verizon centre (located within the area that claimed to be Chinatown) to watch another ice hockey game. This time our seats were much better. Thank goodness, the home side (the Washington Capitals) evened up the score a couple of minutes before full time and won the game in extra time.

On Wednesday, we went to Union Station to catch our train to New York. We arrived in New York City just after lunch time and dragged our luggage and ourselves downtown. We intentionally had booked into another part of NYC so that we could visit different parts of the city.

It was so cool! Gabe had booked us into Koreatown! Lol! It should be Korea block. Guess what we had for most dinners? We were still within walking distance to Times Square so we headed that way to see whether we could get some half priced tickets for a show. We got perfect seats for Phantom of the Opera. On the way back to the hotel, we stumbled across Bryant Park again.

What a change! They had set up an ice skating rink with lights, stores, music...sigh...it was a beautiful sight. And yes...it was cold. Something about the cold added to the lovely feeling that Christmas was around the corner. The forecasts had been for snow but it hadn't happened yet. A pity as the place would have looked magical.

That night we watched Phantom. The staging was fantastic and the singing great. Like most people, I recognised only a couple of the songs and didn't know the the whole story so it was a real surprise and pleasure. I think if I lived anywhere near NYC, I'd make sure I went to the various plays and shows on a regular basis. What a way to leave your own reality for a couple of hours and watch some very talented people perform. And the only way to do it is to get the half price tickets! So worth it if you knew what you wanted to watch and willing to take a chance!
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