September 2nd, 2008 – by: ckubojiri
OMG! On our last day we finally discovered that we could take a separate elevator in our hotel underground to the "Promenade." There was some eating places: bakery, yogurt, sushi, sandwiches, and some little boutiques (but these were junk). You walk a short ways throught the shops and the tallest escalator I have ever ridden took me down into the metro station. It costs $1.35 to take me from L'enfant hotel to the capitol and $1.35 back. So convenient and economical. I wished I had found this sooner. Some transit stops take you up closer to the destinations than the buses. You can also by an all day pass for $7.50.
Today I woke up at 8am so I could eat breakfast and get in line for tour tickets of the Capitol. The free tickets start being distributed at 9 AM and the tours start approximately every 15 minutes.
You pick up the tickets at a little booth at the bottom of the hill from the capitol, then they have you walk up the side of the capitol to the tour entrance. The entire tour takes anywhere from 1-2 hours. The room under the rotunda was so impressive. There was a beautiful mural painted on the very top of the dome, a frescoed frieze was painted around the dome to depict an illusion of a relief sculpture. The frescoed frieze portrays significant events in American history from Columbus discovering America (what he thought was India) to gold being discovered in California. The very center of the room contained a circle that has held the caskets of many revered figures, such as Rosa Parks, the first woman honored in this manner. There were impressive large paintings all around the room.
We then moved to the next room which contained dozens of statues of historical figures. This was also the room where politicians of late used to be able to hear whispers from the other side of the room of their unknowing guests. Our tour guide walked to the other side of the marker and we heard her more clearly than when she was standing right next to us. Pretty cool!
It turned in to a mission to find a liquor store or grocery store around Washington
. They are so far and few in between compared to what I'm used to in California. Washington hides their fast food restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores very well. Too well. Lol. You should have seen us running around the nation's capitol looking for a place to buy beer.
The rotunda (inside Capitol dome)
We got tired of paying $4.50 for one bottle when we could buy a 12 pack for $12. But it was refreshing that there wasn't a visible McDonald's on every corner. Many liquor stores close by 10 PM and a lot of other stores, such as some of the CVS stores did not even sell liquor. The only Safeway grocery store we came upon (in Virginia) was closed by 10 PM. It really got ridiculous. haha But it was all in good fun.
I almost passed up taking the tour up the Washington Monument, but on my last day, I tried to tie up any loose ends and hit attractions I did not yet see. Again, you need to pick up a free ticket, which you can get from the small building at the base in front of the lawn leading up to the monument. Elevators go up every half hour or sooner. It takes 70 seconds to get up to the top.
Aerial view of National Mall
George Washington was the only president to have known a monument such as this was being built in his honor. When you get to the top you can see panoramic views of Washington from all four directions, also Virginia and Maryland in the near distance. The windows were a bit foggy and scratched, but still a rare birds eye view of the nation's capitol. The windows are a much bigger size than I thought from below. I then walked down a short spiral staircase to some displays of the history of the monument and information about Washington. From here, you take the elevator back down to the ground floor.
The next couple of hours were spent at the Holocaust Museum not far from the Washington Monument. The building housing the history of this human atrocity was huge. There was an interactive children's walk through called "Daniel's Story" on the first floor. For the rest of us, the journey started by entering the main elevators taking you up to the 4th floor to start the permanent exhibition. The tour is set up so that you follow a spiraling walk through all the way back down to the first floor. There are
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