So, first day in Washington DC over. There’s not a huge amount different on this day but, for those of you willing to stick with me, here we go. Travel into the pit and back out into… well, we’ve got a quick detour to make first. Instead of heading straight to Union Station, if memory serves we visited a memorial to various police officers killed in the line of duty, just outside a metro stop, and also a building dedicated to… well… buildings. This museum basically featured all sorts of architecture which, in itself, wasn’t really that interesting. It did, however, feature various plans and proposed exhibitions (and actual exhibitions) from various Worlds Fairs, the events that used to demonstrate all the upcoming trends in technology, including the giant robots that looked like something from Lost In Space and could quite easily crush a person, which we were apparently going to entrust our children’s care to. One may say that video games came and did the job for us, and they’re a lot less likely to crush people. Unless you went and bought Steel Battalion for the Xbox, in which case all bets are off.
The museum did also feature various Lego models of the world’s most famous buildings, including two which I’ve been up in recent years – the Empire State Building and the Burj Khalifa. Very impressive, though they wouldn’t let us take pictures for some reason. Silly people.
Back to Union Station we go, and onto the tours. We go round various bits of Washington DC a few times, and at some point (may have actually been the day previously) we get off the bus to change onto another one, on the same street that the theatre where Abraham Lincoln was shot is. The theatre is actually still a working theatre, with a museum section that you can go into and walk around and so on, which we neglected to do.
Travelling further on the bus, we get off close to the White House. There’s a big hotel/restaurant here (I think it’s a famous one but I can’t remember what it’s called) and go to get as close to the White House as possible.
Which isn’t that close.
Well, I imagine you can guess why – security. Looking back at the pictures it’s actually not THAT far away – you can clearly make out all the details of the building and the President’s very nice garden with fountain. Everyone there was trying to take pictures, as did we! A very impressive building it is, though you can’t help but think it’s a bit big even for the President and his family. I guess he can afford the mortgage repayments.
Moving on, we stop off at somewhere I’d spotted before coming to Washington DC – an old Post Office building. This has since been turned into a small shopping centre with a tower that you can go up, giving you a good view of the area. You can actually get a good look from up here at a few things, such as the Washington Monument, the start of the Mall, and I think the Capitol building (I can never remember which one this is). After lunch we actually stop off and get a few pictures outside this mystery building. Dear God I’ve got a brain like a sieve.
Washington DC has various museums which are, actually, free to get into. They’re paid for by the government and various universities, colleges and wealthy donors, but they are very good. And so it’s into the Air and Space museum we go.
And so does everyone else.
You see, it’s just started doing something which is new for this holiday – raining.
And so, a free museum seems the perfect place to shelter. So, for the moment, despite the large crowds in the museum it’s quite a good time to have a wander and marvel at all the old aircraft, the original designs for the Wright Brother’s planes, and a bizarre model which was envisioned as an airship for the French – an ocean-faring ship, suspended by a huge balloon, with a ring around the balloon where tents, and even a church, would perch. This idea never got off the ground, and to be quite honest it’s not hard to see why.
After a while, we decide we’ve had enough of waiting around for the rain to stop. We’re British – we’re not afraid of rain! So we catch another bus, which is somewhat sheltered, towards the National Mall area.
The Mall is a great big, long pool of water – or at least it was. More on that later. You may remember that Forrest Gump waded through it in the film (not the book). In any case, we go past a few monuments, including ones containing various Presidents and pass the one showing when each State became part of the USA. I’m quite proud of this as I’m pretty good at using Roman Numerals, which were all over this one.
And, of course, we have to stop in and visit Honest Abe. There’s lots of writing on the walls (of various passages, not graffiti) and Abe himself is quite large, imposing and shiny, sitting in his place as probably the most beloved of Presidents.
And, outside, is the National Mall. Or all that remains of it. You see, when we visited the Mall had been drained, apparently in order to “help counter terrorism”. The only thing I could think of was that they were installing missile silos. A tad disappointing.
On our journey back to Union Station we end up talking to a very large group of people on the bus. There are two parents and their child. Their child cannot have children so she’s actually adopted nine kids. NINE! But they’re all here, looking around Washington DC and being very well behaved. But even so, NINE! But they’re obviously managing to cope with that many.
This has probably been my quickest blog entry yet, but we nip to a Chinese restaurant and then back to the hotel, having a swim in the pool inside the building (not a very good pool). We’ve got our final stop coming up – Williamsburg, home of Busch Gardens Europe.