Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light. What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
After our first night’s sleep we had learnt a few things. We had beds that were either side of the Goldielocks scale. Mine was like a board while Joey’s must’ve been broken because it was too soft. The “just right” beds probably await us in one of the Hiltons we will stay at later. We had also learnt that the air con in the room, although rather weak, made a loud clunking noise every 15 mins or so. Didn’t interupt our sleep, but once you were awake…it was a real bitch to get back to sleep again. Finally, we learnt that our room in DC had a Devil TV. At sometime after 7am it just turned on and we ended up watching 2 episodes of the practice. However, a self-turning-on TV is just weird IMO!
We hit the ground running despite calculating that we did a full 24 hours of awake after just 3.5 hours of sleep the day before. After breakfast of Donut, Bagel and Orange Juice (that was 2% juice lol) and a coffee hunt, which was surprisingly hard considering the amount of Starbucks, etc that we had seen while walking around the day before we hit up our first sight of the day…The Lincoln Memorial. It was amazing seeing not only the size and grandure of the memorial but also being right up close to something you had seen on tv, in books and in photos for so long. As we continued our walk down the mall it was a feeling that would come up a lot. It was as if it was a dream because you really couldn’t be seeing these landmarks up close.
In the end we saw the entire mall. The Reflecting pools (which are very dirty and leads you to think the yanks haven’t mastered the art of the stagnant water pools), the Washington Monument (where we got our free tickets to go up the ‘spike’ later on in the day), the World War 2 Monument that was only built during the Dubya Administration, Capitol Building (obviously the best building in D.C) and the Supreme Court (which was awesome for the lawyer in me and gave Joey a kick because it was his first “hey, that has been on Law and Order sight). It really was an amazing walk. There is surprisingly large distances between all the items (we are going to have done A LOT of walking by the end of this trip) and the buildings were super-impressive. Probably the only downside was that the straight line navigation required to walk down the straight Mall caused me problems as more than once, to Joey’s hilarity, I got lost while walking in a straight line…and I had the map 😦 LOL
We then headed off to some of the Museums. Well, after we had grabed another donut because when in America do as the Americans do 😉 haha. We walked past the Postal Museum which has been the butt of many jokes of ours since we read about it in a guide book. It just seems like a lame theme for a Museum to us and after walking past the outside…it still seems that lame! We did go to the Crime and Punishment Museum which was as cool as the name sounds. Despite being $20 entrance, and that is USD, it was a mammoth museum that just kept going each time you went around a corner expecting to see the exit. Some of the trivia was really interest and the quizes and interactive displays were quite fun. It was a little morbid to see SO MANY photos of dead people, including some really dead people if you understand me and it reminded me of my work experience at the Coroners’ Court for a bit. The S & M themes were also a little strong in places…
After our ages enjoying the Crime and Punishment, it was then time for lunch (well it was 2:30 so it was definitely time to eat regardless of what meal you would call it). We stopped off at “Harry’s” which really couldn’t have been more American. There was sport on the TV, massive glasses of Coke and bottles of Sam Adams to be drunk and big burgers served with pickles coleslaw and “chips” (Joey’s first encounter with the whole chips and crisps thing). For our first proper meal in the USA, it was a good feed.
We then had a few hours to kill as our timed ticket for the “spike” wasn’t until 5:30 so we ended up visiting the Natural History Museum along the Mall. We saw the Hope Diamond (not that impressive), many skeletons, large dinosaurs and animals in jars as well as some rather funny/interesting films about Morgie’s Mammal Family Reunion and the animals from the deep sea…although I am unsure if they were meant to be that funny. It was really interesting museum, but it was definitely very american if you compared it to the British Museum, with loads of sounds, colours and movie displays. ‘Twas a good way to fill in a few hours.
We then made our way over to the Washington Monument. The whole process of getting in and going up the monument is regimented to almost military precision. There would be about 10 checkpoints with “National Park Rangers”, there is a metal detector on the door and they have obviously organised this well. Once you are up the top of the “spike” though the view is amazing. You can see how relatively unimpressive the Whitehouse really is for one of the most famous residence in the world. Okay, it is better than the Lodge but it is no Buckingham Palace! You could see out over D.C for almost 40 miles supposedly as the weather was amazing and clear and it seemed that you got the ‘white washed and cleaned’ view of D.C as none of the poverty that you can see from up close that surprises you for the “Capital of the Free World” interupts the view.
Our last stop for the day was to go to the Air and Space Museum. Our main aim in going was to get tickets for the IMAX showing of Night at the Museum 2 (which is set at the Smithsonian and in D.C so we HAD to see it at the Smithsonian while in D.C!) We got our tickets for 8:15pm but also had a couple of hours to look around at the planes, space craft and other really interesting vehicles. You would wonder about how Astronauts don’t go crazy from claustrophbia or how the Wright Brother’s plane ACTUALLY flew and even continue our trend of doing those interactive quizes – although our scores were progressively getting worse and our failure of the “Earth” quiz is somewhat damning. Soon enough though the Museum closed and we just had to wait until the film started. The film was great. It was 0.00001% realistic in the way that nothing was grounded at all in reality, but it was really fun. It was especially good as so many of the items that ‘came to life’ we had just seen earlier that day and the feeling of walking out of a cinema in to the set was a weird one! Probably not a movie that is going to win oscars, but definitely a fun one for us to watch. It was also my first IMAX film in years.
All that was left for us to do was to walk back along the Mall (which takes about 40mins to walk for those interested) but the walk was helped by the fact we got to see the monuments in a whole new light…literally. At night they light up all the main buildings and monuments (I would hate to see the power bill), but it makes walking down the Mall a completely different experience. Many more photos were taken, which continued something that had been going all day and eventually we made it back to our hotel, with completely exhausted legs ready for sleep (ready for sleep that will eventually be disturbed once again…by the Devil TV!)
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