Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Washington DC

A short flight down the coast from Boston and I was in Washington DC. Looking out of the window in the plane, I thought I recognised what looked like Manhattan and as I have been there a few times I looked to see if the Statue of Liberty was there and yes it was a dot on the water. It is indeed a small world from the sky. I arrived at my final hotel (aptly for me called Hamilton), unpacked and off out to explore. 10 minutes and around 5 blocks later and I found myself outside the North side of the White House. It is very WHITE. So pristine and surprisingly very beautiful. It stands next to the Treasury building. It was Memorial Day here (like our Bank Holiday except they also remember their war dead) and there were parades and bands going on further down. As has become the norm, I bought a hop on/off bus ticket to get my bearings. Now if you like memorials galore, museums and galleries then DC is the place for you. I got off the bus at the Lincoln Memorial. It is a magnificent sight. I didn't get to climb us to see it in all its glory as an unidentified bag had been found and they cleared the place. The sight from there down to the Capitol Hill was so picturesque. I remembered the Forrest Gump film when he is at a protest there with his girl. I decided to walk from there to Capitol Hill. It was a long walk in the heat but lovely. Passed the long water pond and down to the World War II memorial which leads on to the Washington memorial. Unfortunately it is covered in scaffolding at present as it needs repairs following earthquake damage in 2011. Just to digress, I am having a nice lunch whilst writing this near to the White House and think the Presidents helicopter has just gone over. He knows how to beat the traffic. Anyway after the Washington Memorial there is a long line of museums and galleries known as the Mall. They are old, new and diverse buildings. I went into the Museum of American History. It's not that big but saw the dresses of many of the First Ladies including the beautiful dress and accessories that Michelle Obama wore to the inauguration ball. Also there are samples of the crockeries from the Presidents down the ages. Each presidential family has their own designs. I think I preferred the Reagans one best. It was also home to the ruby red slippers worn by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I walked on further and reached Capitol Hill, home of the Congress which again is a very large and ornate building. I discovered later that walk was over two miles. As it is very hot and humid I needed a rest. Later I decided to venture out a little from the hotel in the evening to find a little jazz bar.took the public bus up to U Street. It was chucking it down. I felt very uncomfortable in the area so had a quick bite to eat in what looked a busy Ethiopian restaurant and quickly went back via the bus again. It was also a scary ride. Reminded me of an episode in a previous visit to the USA with Ray and Sara. You may have heard the tale. Next day I went on a river boat cruise which was included in the bus ticket very conveniently. On then to Arlington Cemetary where rests a lot of military and famous figures such as the Kennedys. It is very large but a serene place. I am ashamed to say that I didn't venture as far uphill to the tomb of the unknown soldier as it was so hot. Went past the Pentagon which is a very uninspiring building and walked to the South Side of the White House where the balcony is. The gardens are so pristine. Michelle Obama has planted a kitchen garden with the help of local schoolchildren. The next day I opened the newspaper and there she is in a photo with children picking the produce from the day before. I must have just missed her. When I arrived in Washington I am ashamed to say that I did not know which state it was in. I thought perhaps Maryland but decided to google it so as not to appear ignorant in conversation. I was amazed to discover that it is not in a state but DC stands for District of Columbia and is surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. This is so that no state can claim to house the capital. Well my journey is almost at an end. It feels strange to be about to return home. It's been amazing, educational and more than I ever could have imagined. I have met some great (and some strange) and some different people all over the world. I will finalise the blog when I return. Thank you to all who have taken the time to read it. It's a privilege to have such great friends. Farewell Uncle Sam, Hello Blighty!

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