A Travellerspoint blog

Tidal Basin

Washington DC

sunny 17 °C

An absolutely glorious day in Washington DC - not a cloud in the sky all day - simply magical for wandering around.

Was up way before the crack of dawn this morning - 3am - its amazing how jet lag can make you feel so alert at odd hours. Well, odd for me - I'm not known for any early morning antics!!!

Couldn't get back to sleep so by the time breakfast came I was well and truly ready to rumble.
Couldn't have asked for a better time - fall is just starting to display its magical colours and tourists were nowhere to be found - it almost felt like I had the whole place to myself.

Some weird things about Washington - people lose their keys all the time here - I found sets of keys all over the place - at first, I thought I'd be nice and set them in prominent locations e.g on top of rubbish bins in case somebody was looking for them. After going to the Spy Museum, paranoia kicked in and I think I wrecked about 3 possible drop zones throughout Washington DC by being nice.

Secondly Brisbane has sushi shops all over the place - Washington has french bakeries - they're mad over patisseries. Have to admint that it's a refreshing change but not good for the waistline......

OK back to the tidal basin..............started off at the Lincoln Memorial which was devoid of any tourists - I have truly forgotten how big these monuments are - Last time I was here, I distinctly remember dashing around from building to building not being aware of their size - maybe it was the brisk February winds that made me keep my head down but this time I really noticed it. Anywhere else and they could almost be State Libraries or performance centres.

Unfortunately the reflecting pool is being dug up - it's one great big pile of sand at the momemnt - apparently it's leaking (coincidentally?) and they need to reseal it. So this does not make the best photos up to the monument so scurried off in the direction of the Jefferson Memorial.

It's delightfully peaceful walking along the Potomac early in the morning - just a few joggers, a couple of ultra serious photographers and the squirrels burying acorns. Found the new Martin Luther King memorial - it's huge (ok, I'm going to be saying that alot) and extremely imposing with him gazing out over Washington - nowhere does it say "I have a dream....." which is a bit weird since it has a whole list of of quotable speeches but then later I noticed the whole memorial is called "I have a dream" - then wandered over to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial - I think the person who designed that was an enviromentalist on LSD - its a rambling mixture of quotes, anti war statements, pro-environment tributes - its also extremely dark being made out of dark green/grey slate and has many rooms - at the end you wonder if it's ever going to end.......

My favourite though was the pagoda that the japanese sent over shortly after the end of the war - apparently they forgot to include instructions - so one of the musuems had to discretely work out how to put it together - it said it came in 5 containers by ship but it isn't much taller than me - so either lots of parts went missing or the historians ended up following an IKEA instruction sheet - anyway, it's tucked over in the corner that seems to say "I was a gift so I had to be displayed but I really hope no one notices me".

It was at this point that I realised that I was being overly ambitious in my walking route - stuck at the point that was furtherest from anything I had no choice but to soldier on up to the Jefferson Memorial which had been my ultimate destination. Again it's a huge building with nothing but a large statue of Jefferson and some of his famous quotes. Underneath is a bit of a museum about him but since I'm planning on going to Monticello I skipped that bit. By now I'm hobbling back towards civilisation and the national monument - which is closed due to the recent earthquake.

Onwards and upwards toward the Ford Theatre with a pit stop at the pharmacy for some much needed band aids.........

The Ford Theatre has a large underground museum with a haphazard timeline of Lincoln's time in office - what I didn't realise was how many conspirators there were in his assasination - though originally it was going to be a kidnapping. Also I didn't realise that John Wilkes Booth was this suave charming actor - it's a bit like George Clooney suddenly deciding that he's had enough and doing something about it......

The theatre itself was having a massive set change due to a new play in production - it made Lincoln's box seem like a byline in history - which I guess it is - the house where he died - literally across the road seems fitting when you consider his origins and incongruous when you consider his legend. A small bed with a home made quilt was where he spent his last days........

After lunch I headed over to the Spy Museum - after all the free museums in Washington - this is like a jolt - and steep - $19 for an adult - but when you get inside you realise how much of an effort they made - you started off pretending you were a spy character - not surprising I chose Angelena the travel agent heading off to Hanoi to pick up secret plans via a bogus hotel booking......there are so many exhibits that it boggles your mind - right up to today's war on terror - even bits of the Berlin War are artfully displayed along side East German phone boxes and a dazzling array of tiny guns, listining appartus and poison pens...........

Then it was up to the National Buidling Museum where at this time I spent most of the time in the shop looking at architectually inspired gifts that were all too big for your luggage. Then the long walk or should I say hobble back to the hotel via the White House and the Renwick Gallery - which shows the decorative arts of the White House - again, amazing how many things have been lost..............

Now after dinner.........I'm off to bed..................

Posted by natty176 18:40 Archived in USA Tagged washington dc Comments (0)

Arrival in Washington DC

sunny 15 °C

==Finally I'm here sitting in the Hotel Lombardy looking over a very charming 18th century area right on the edge of Georgetown University and just down the road from the White House.

Am truly buggered - can't fault QANTAS (though I'd like to for consistency!!!) - we had the newly refurbished 747's designed my Marc Newson - thought it was all hype but I can say that an extra 3cm between seats really does make a difference long haul. The trip is still way too long but nothing one can do about that.

LAX on the other hand - is still crap and the line up for immigration was immense and chaotic - made my connecting flight with 10 mins to spare.

Dulles on the other hand is a lovely spacious airport - very clean, very modern and surprisingly well thought out. Even in my zombie state I could still appreciate it and navigate easily.

Now have my rental car and drove to the hotel - quite nervous about all that - kept saying "keep right" and luck would have it my satnav system ran out of batteries with 100m to go - must remember to look for cigarette light plug before I drive.

Well I'm off to bed. Hopefully you can all read this. If not, let me know - I have another option.

No pictures at this point but should have some tomorrow

Posted by natty176 18:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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