Finally I get to the capital of this place
Washington Travel Blog› entry 23 of 26 › view all entries
I got a bit of a strange relationship with capitals around the world. In Europe I have never been to a country without going to the capital - and in many countries in Europe I have actually been nowhere but the capital. But when it comes to countries outside Europe I frequently have never been to the capital. The same is true for the USA on my previous visit to the states I have never been to Washington - and even on this visit I am postponing the visit to the capital to the very in of the visit. But today is the day - I will finally go to the illustrious capital of USA.
is not like any other American city I have ever been to.
I start the
day by taking the metro to the first stop the south capitol metro station - the
closest stop to the Capitol Hill - home of the US congress. I book a ticket for
a free tour of the capitol but unfortunately it is not for another 1½ hour or
so - hence I need to find something to do in the mean time. I start by walking
around the Capitol which is a bit of a walk around the hill even though it
seems pretty short. Walking around the hill I get my first real idea of the
design of the city when I walk down and look along the National Mall with its
massive grassy lane and all the big buildings along it housing many museums
which for the min part is absolutely free for the visitor - even though they
are the home to some of the best collections in the world.
I keep walking around the capitol and next to the capitol there is several big office buildings which seems to be build in sort of the same still as the original design of the city - but all these buildings is a lot younger than the capitol building which used to house all of the members of congress and their staff. The housing of the staff in the old days was quite easy - given the ordinary members of the house and the senate did not have any staffers at all. Not like today where even an ordinary member of the house in an unknown district in Michigan will have a big personal staff.
capitol on the side away from the National Mall there is some pretty impressive
buildings - the US Supreme Court which also seems like a pretty old building
but it is actually not even a hundred years old yet.
and it is about time for my tour of the capitol building where I get in and
have a tour around the big building having a bit of a look around on the arts
in side and listening to the guide telling a bit of the history of the
building. After the tour of the building I start a bit of a walk down the
National Mall there is a lot of place I could go in but I figure the most
interesting of the museums would be the Air and Space Museum with the old
famous planes and space vehicles.
visit to the Air and Space museum I continue my walk down the National Mall and
on the road down I see how you do lawn improvement in Washington - you drive a
small truck around the place distributing a bit of dirt to make it more level -
it looks highly unlikely for this process to have the desired effect. Somewhat
puzzled by what he was trying to achieve I walk on and get to the central point
of the National Mall - the Washington Monument - it is far from the most
significant monument in the City and considering the impressive monument to
Lincoln and Jefferson you can wonder why the first of the presidents have not
gotten a more impressive monument - but then again the whole city is named in
considering how little I have been walking during the day I am a bit surprised
what time it is by now. And I head down the cross street to the National Mall
to go to the most famous house in the world - Pennsylvania Avenue 1600 aka the
White House. Around the White House there is a lot of security - well actually
there is a lot of security all over Washington but it is more pronounced around
the White House. Compared to the Capitol Hill the White House is not nearly as
impressive. I walk back from the White House to walk along the National Mall
down towards the Potomac River. This second half of the National Mall after the
Washington Monument is dedicated to monuments for all the wars the US have fought
abroad. The first you encounter is a fairly new monument to the Second World
War. This was dedicated by President Bush in 2004. The monument is next to the
main feature of this area the reflection pool which is a long narrow pool of
water stretching from the WW II monument to the Lincoln Monument.
The area between the reflection pool and the street is actually a surprisingly peaceful area with a bit of nature appearing to have gotten a foothold in the middle of the city. You will see a few birds swimming on the lakes in the area and chipmunks running around searching for food. A little bit further down you will get to the Vietnam Memorial a big piece of black marble with all the names of the fallen American soldiers during this war. This is also the most visited monument of all the war memorials not so much because of the size of the monument but probably because of the recent history of the Vietnam War which mean a lot of people will have relatives who fought in this war.
Down at the
end of the reflection pool is the giant Lincoln Monument with the huge statue
of Lincoln at this site it you will get a great view down the reflection pool
towards the Washington Monument.
Lincoln Monument I sort of need to go down and see one final monument even
though it is starting to get dark - The Thomas Jefferson Monument. I really
cannot go to Washington without seeing the monument to this president. I walk
down along a big lake - the tidal lake. And around this lake I realize the city
planners made a terrible mistake when they design the city. Because along the
lake there is a lot of ancient fruit trees from an old orchard and these trees
can several branches hanging down making it impossible to walk upright around
the tidal lake. Which idiot planners build a city without clearing the ground
for these annoying cherry trees? I need to find the city management and
complain about these trees. Miraculously I manage to walk around the tidal lake
without any major head injury caused by the hanging branches.
Just before I get to the Jefferson memorial I see a tiny memorial and have a look - there is a little monument for Mason nice little spot that I never heard about before and would never have taken the walk around the lake just to visit this little place - but hey now I am here so I might as well take a short look at it. Then finally I get to my destination - and there he is Thomas Jefferson standing high in the middle of the room towering on his small pedestal with some of his most famous words around him.
getting late now - and I have to get some dinner but it got to be a fairly
quick dinner because I wanna see this city in the dark with the lights coming
out on the monuments so I can get a quick look at them in the dark. And a tour
of Washington by night is quite interesting with some advantages - like no
traffic and lots of parking spaces.