The District of American History, Museums and Art
09.09.2013 - 12.09.2013 28 °C
After another successful Greyhound ride, we arrived in Washington D.C. Coming from NYC, it was refreshing to step into (what felt like) cleaner air and streets, open spaces, and a less hectic energy. It seemed we arrived during a heatwave that had hit the city, with the "feel like" temperatures in the 30s (high 80s Fahrenheit) the whole time we were there.
We stayed at Hostelling International, which offered a lot of interesting free tours. Having arrived in the early afternoon, we were able to join the Night Monument tour. In two hours, we walked to see some of the key sights:
The White House, which is smaller than you would expect:
The Washington Monument, which was closed for construction after damage after an earthquake from August 2011:
World War II Memorial, which I found very impactful and one of my favourites:
The infamous Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King made the "I Have a Dream" speech:
And the Eisenhower Executive Office Building:
One of the girls I'd met on the walking tour recommended the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. I usually avoid doing these, but the next day was so humid, and the heat was so unbearable, sitting in the shade didn't seem like a bad idea. This was fine to get a feel for D.C., but it didn't give me a chance to really get out and see much, given the buses run every half an hour. In hindsight, I would have been better off saving the $40 and spending my time in the air conditioned, free museums. After doing the bus tour, I only had enough time to visit the Holocaust Museum. The way the museum is laid out, it takes you through a journey and tells a powerful story of the history. I was there for 1.5 hours and felt rushed toward the end as it was closing. A very thought-provoking museum that I would recommend to those who don't mind a bit of dark tourism.
The Holocaust Musuem
Having felt I 'wasted' some time on the bus tour, I wasn't sure I'd be able to visit all the placed I wanted to all in my final day in D.C. So, I got up super early to make the most of the day, and even in the wee hours of the morning it was stinking hot and I felt like I was walking around in a sauna. But, a benefit of the early hours (and possibly the hot weather), was the quietness at the memorials. I felt that wandering the Korean War, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials at 8am in the morning with no-one else around, and on the memorial of September 11, added to the impact of the memorials.
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument
The Roosevelt Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr.
WWII Memorial - flags flown at half staff in remembrance of 9/11[
I'm not a huge museum-goer, but I felt I could spend days and weeks in the museums in D.C. I visited the Museum of Natural History, Art and Space Museum, and the National Gallery of Art. I LOVED the Museum of Natural History, spending most of my time there in the Butterfly Pavilion and being in awe of the Dinosaurs and Ice Age exhibits.
Butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion, Museum of Natural History
T-Rex skeleton, Museum of Natural History
Another cool thing was seeing the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill Of Rights and Magna Carta at the National Archives. I felt that going to D.C. after just visiting Boston gave a really good history of the US. I wish I had of gone to Boston and DC when I first moved over to the US, as the two cities helped me understand why Americans are so patriotic and have such a sense of independence. More photos from Washington, D.C. are here.
After D.C., we were leaving the east coast, and heading to Glacier National Park in Montana. I was super excited to have a break from cities and getting closer to nature!