Our last day in Washington….. It felt like we had been in the city for about 4 weeks rather than 4 days by this point. In a good way. Still there was so much that we hadn’t had time to do, so we would like to go back at some point to see more, although there are plenty of other places to visit in the country first while we have the chance.
We left quite early and managed to get out onto the motorway in about 2 minutes, which was great as we didn’t fancy getting stuck in the early morning rush hour traffic going the wrong way across town. We stopped off at IKEA which is about half an hour outside the city. Strange how being in a Swedish superstore can make you feel just like you’re back in the UK again! I kept forgetting where I was until I heard an American accent every so often. Managed to control myself quite well and only spent about $30 which is amazingly disciplined of me. Just got a few little housey bits like a nice memory foam bath mat and a door mat. No point in spending a fortune on a place that you know you’ll only be living in for three years. Very tempted to take pictures of ourselves relaxing in the kitchen and living room displays in an attempt to fool our UK friends that this is actually our new apartment 🙂 . I can promise you that we didn’t do it though, so any pictures you do see are actually real. Or are they?
After that it was a nice uneventful drive back home. And, being the first time we have “returned” there since moving in, it really did feel like coming back home, not just to “that place we’re currently living in”. Home sweet home. Bye bye Washington, best just get the washing on then, I suppose.
Categories: Home, Travel
Thankfully this was a much less hot day (yes, still shorts weather 🙂 ) as we did a mammoth walk across the city. We went past the White House and up to Dupont Circle then across to Georgetown. You may have seen the pedestrian crossing lights in the USA, the ones where they give a visual countdown of how many seconds left to cross? What we couldn’t work out is why, at Dupont Circle, where it is a single and very tiny lane to cross, you get 90 seconds, yet on the much wider 4 or 6 lane major roads you only get 16 seconds. And also, why 16? Why not 15 or 20?
Georgetown is the place I would choose to live if I found myself suddenly employed in DC. It’s like what Didsbury is to Manchester, or what Penarth is to Cardiff – the bit just to the side that has its own character and fabulousness but is just the right distance from the big centre. You have to go across a bridge to get to Georgetown and it’s amazing how it instantly changes from big US city to small British town. Most places in the US don’t have a traditional “High Street” centre but the shops are scattered all over the place and only accessible by car. Uncharacteristically, Georgetown actually does have a proper High Street-type shopping area (where I headed straight to Lush to stock up on the essentials for the next twelve months until I can visit again). From there we headed down along the waterfront with its posh restaurants and past the Watergate complex (it’s more than just a scandal you know – it has offices and a hotel too) and onto the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where we had a free guided tour of all the theatres and other rooms. We even got to see inside the Presidential box – apparently there are special Presidential M&Ms available only when he attends a show. We ended the tour on the roof terrace with a spectacular 360 degree view across the city – something I would highly recommend any visitors to the city take advantage of.
From there it was a nice walk along the canal to the Lincoln Memorial again, just to reconfirm that it kicks the ass of all the other memorials. It still does. Back to our hotel for a well earned soak in the hot tub after a good six hours on our feet.
Later on we made it out again for a view of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building at night. The Capitol looks amazing when lit up but the Washington Monument has two red lights at the top which unfortunately make it look a little demonic 🙂 .Probably not the intended effect.
A much cooler day; still warm enough for shorts but not too hot to walk around in. We did a few more museums including the Natural History Museum with a fabulous 3D film about dinosaurs, and also two art galleries where we had much fun grumbling about the modern “art”. I really like modern art a lot more than the classics, but leaning a black plank against a wall and calling it art? Really??? On seeing a piece by Cy Twombly, the husband’s considered criticism was “That looks like something I’d doodle while sitting on hold on the phone ….”. He did have a point.
We also dropped into Union Station which isn’t quite as architecturally impressive as Grand Central Station in New York – maybe because it’s covered in scaffolding inside at the moment. Not only is it a train station, it also houses lots of shops and eating places; in fact the trains are tucked right away at the back, almost as an afterthought. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets which is a replica 50s diner (well, a whole chain of them) complete with red vinyl seats and individual jukeboxes at your booth. The husband had a milkshake so thick that he could actually stand his spoon up in it. I don’t know how he managed to eat a burger as well.
We had a lovely walk in the rain back to our hotel, passing the Capitol Building again on the way; yet another pretty impressive building. Not a patch on the Lincoln Memorial though!
Another ridiculously hot day so this one was spent in a few museums including the National Air & Space Museum (looking forward to visiting the bigger version out by the airport some time) and the Hirshhorn. Most museums in Washington are free, thanks to the generosity of a British man who left all his money for this very purpose. We did a couple of laps of the National Mall, where most of the museums are situated, plus a trip up to see the White House. You can only have a tour around the inside if you apply through your local Member of Congress about six months in advance or, in the case of us Brits, some other very convoluted application process which is just not worth the hassle. And even then your tour may be cancelled at the last minute. And you can’t take anything in, including any bags, cameras etc. I thought I saw a couple of the infamous snipers on the roof but apparently they were only trees. Maybe I do need my eyes tested.
Well, anyone who knows my husband won’t be at all surprised to learn that we left home at 4.30am on our trip to the nation’s capital. We stopped at the IHOP for breakfast (where randomly they were playing Take That – I didn’t think they were even famous over here?) and I had a large bucket of coffee and some hash browns. Wowee. PROPER hash browns. Those little things from McDonald’s will never seem the same again. I was also schooled in the art of egg-ordering and can now confidently say that my choice is “over medium” – that’s “fried with a runnyish yolk” as I described it. I still took the easy route with the bewildering choice of bread for my toast – as usual I just went for the last one on the waitress’ extensive list.
We arrived in Washington bright and early and amazingly found our hotel almost immediately, despite the satnav trying to send us down a non-existent road. We hopped straight onto the sightseeing bus and out to Arlington Cemetery. The highlight (if you can call it that) was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, which is guarded by soldiers 24 hours a day. We saw the changing of the guard, which is taken very seriously and would have been even more impressive if their identical appearance (including matching sunglasses) didn’t totally remind me of the baddies from The Matrix.
While out in Arlington we also visited the Iwo Jima Memorial which has the wow factor for its sheer size if nothing else. Definitely one I would recommend people to go and see.
We hopped back on the bus and back into the city centre to look around the rest of the notable memorials. Having first seen the Washington Monument from the motorway on the way in, we soon started to get a bit sick of it as you can see it from absolutely everywhere. It is cool though, and a useful marker for how far away you are. There were hordes of TV cameras around the Washington Monument. We thought it was just to celebrate our arrival, but in fact it was exactly one year since an earthquake hit the city and damaged the monument, which is currently closed for repairs. I may well have spotted the US equivalent of Eamonn Holmes or Lorraine Kelly, but quite frankly if I did then I have absolutely no knowledge of it.
Washington is full of monuments and I quickly ran out of different adjectives for “impressive”. We thought the Jefferson Memorial was the best thing ever, in a totally stunning setting. But then we got to the Lincoln Memorial. Which totally blew the rest out of the water. I did have to resist the major urge to run through the Reflecting Pool shouting “FORREST GUMP!”. Fortunately the pool is currently closed off for renovations. Or maybe just because they knew I was coming.
The day was incredibly hot so we made the most of the air con on the tour bus as we saw the rest of Washington including Union Station and the Capitol Building (I still think the Houses of Parliament are architecturally more pleasing. The husband disagrees). Back at our hotel we were pleased to find a hot tub and a pool which made a good end to a tiring but enjoyable day.