Monumental Washington DC
Washington Travel Blog› entry 40 of 42 › view all entries
had chosen to fly from Miami to Washington DC as we didn't really
fancy the 'several days on a bus' route, so we left the Everglades
early in the morning to catch our flight. Unfortunately a guy falling
in front of the metro had completely shut down the transport and
after sitting on a bus for an hour we had to get a cab to the airport
instead. Once again our transportation plans hadn't worked out quite
how we wanted! Nevertheless we arrived in time (just), and after a
rather bumpy couple of flights arrived in Washington.
We were pleasantly surprised to find the weather in Washington almost as warm as Miami, so went for a wander as soon as we arrived. The hostel was walking distance from all the major sights so it was very easy. We took advantage of this the next morning by joining a free walking tour from the hostel. It took us by the White House first, where we joined the gaggle of tourists taking their photo, and we we most intruiged by the group of snipers on the top of it! Our guide told us that security is largely hidden (apart from the snipers...), and there are hidden cameras and police dressed up as tourists everywhere.
The monuments were all huge and very busy, so we followed close behind our guide through the Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln Memorials.
Thanks to Mr Smithson, a wealthy Briton who gave his money to the USA when he died, there are many museums in Washington and they are all free! The Smithsonian Museums are mostly located around the Mall, close to the monuments and still within walking distance of our hostel which was perfect! The weather however had taken a turn for the worse, and the 20 minute walk was very unpleasant in the pouring rain.
We first went to the Holocaust museum which had been highly recommended. It was of course exceedingly depressing, but very well done with a mix of video footage and exhibition style halls. At the end, we were shown a film with survivor testimonials, all of which were very moving, often involving someone putting themselves in grave danger to protect those around them. It really was incredible.
The next day we decided to do something slightly more light hearted, so we went to the Smithsonian Zoo to see their giant pandas. They had a cub of three years, who was almost adult size, but we saw video clips of him from birth, it was very cute! The mother was very playful and came down quite close to us and had a roll around! We also saw the elephants having a shower which was funny, as they were very used to it and when they were told to turn around or lie down so the woman could soap their stomach they did it!
After visiting the Natural History Museum where Lisa made friends with Madagascan hissing cockroach *shudder*, we made our way across to the World War 2 memorial.
I feel that we really didn't see the real Washington. We saw the museums, and the memorials along with literally thousands of other tourists, but we didn't see REAL people, the city outside the tourist industry. Practically everything we went into we had to have our bags searched and scanned, from the tourist office to all the museums. If we went again I think we would try and venture out a bit into the other areas, but of course being there for only a few days meant we could only do limited things.