Before our final stop in New York, one place we wanted to visit was Washington D.C. Not being able to afford the hotel prices in Obama’s neck of the woods, we stayed just outside in a town called Laurel and drove into Washington this morning. I was expecting it to be similar to Central London, full of high rise buildings, bumper to bumper traffic and busy streets. I was only right about the buildings, it was actually quite quiet, far less busy than Chicago.
There are quite a few tours around Washington, some by bus and others by bike or Segway. We almost went with a Segway one but at £45 each, we’d much prefer 3 meals out and opted to walk instead! There’s a nice trail that starts near the parks outside the White House and then circles most of the famous monuments and memorials. Despite only being 3-4 miles this walk was quite a struggle, there was no breeze and it was so muggy. I spent the last hour mainly thinking about the moment I’d get to sip a cold Diet Coke from the McDonalds near our car.
The White House was impressive, it was huge and surround by pristine gardens that were very well kept. The only downside was that you couldn’t get very near to it, in comparison to Buckingham Palace for example. There were police and secret service everywhere who had cordoned off many of the roads directly outside the building. We got a few snaps as close as possible though before setting off on the rest of the trail.
I’m not really up on my history and I’ve never really understood the point of war but for someone who is into such things, I can imagine the sights would be very interesting, possibly emotional. Most of the tourists were American which wasn’t surprising, I’ve noticed what an extremely patriotic bunch they are since being here – far different to the British. They all seem to genuinely love their country and believe they are in the greatest place in the world. Of the houses we’ve driven past on our journey I’d guess around 10% have American flags erected in their gardens. Can you imagine that in the UK? I guess it happens at each World Cup (until we are eliminated at the group stages anyway!).
Some of the monuments (of people I’m actually familiar with) included Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Francis Jefferson. There were countless other statues of people from the past but to be honest I had no idea who they were. It was good to see the Washington Monument, it’s the worlds tallest stone built structure and was built in 1885 in memory of American’s first president George Washington. The monument overlooks the World War 2 memorial which had some lovely fountains and a stone pillar for each state. This then led to a reflective pool (see blog image) that was about 600m long but only knee deep. This pool was part of the Lincoln memorial and was similar (but on a much larger scale) to the one we saw at the Oklahoma bombing memorial. You could tell a lot of effort had been put into these three attractions, it was our favourite stretch of the trail.
As if I wasn’t sweating enough by now, Nick wanted to continue on and circle the Tidal Basin lake. This was where the Franklin Roosevelt, Tomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King memorials were. The Roosevelt fountains were pretty, they flowed from black granite and had an oriental feel to them. There was a few other sites we probably missed, but on foot I don’t think we could have fitted them in. One other place we did drive to was The Pentagon but it’s not much to look at from the ground compared with the photos we have seen from above.
Refuelled with a McChicken, Oreo McFlurry and a much needed drink we set off back to our hotel. As if you hadn’t noticed from this blog, our knowledge of American history is pretty poor! So in an attempt to be less clueless we tried to watch a YouTube Washington documentary in the evening. However, with the world’s worst Wi-Fi at our hotel we were left with buffer face.