Catching the train from NYC to Washington, after a fabulous week in NYC it was with a little trepidation. I had a fantastic time and was left wondering whether it could be beat! How could Washington top one of the best cities in the world?
The train ride was smooth, it passed through Trenton, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Maryland and was only partially bad due to the poor screaming baby. Babies being babies however meant there isn’t much one can do about it, but she eventually quietened down for the rest of the trip.
When I arrived in Washington it was to Union station and caught a subway that stopped closest to my hotel. Originally I had booked to stay at the HI Hostel in Washington. However realising on my first night in NYC hat this option was not going to work for me, I had cancelled and booked my stay at the Morrison Clark Inn.
It turns out doing this was the best decision because I had not had a good nights sleep in almost a week, and had an itchy throat and stuffy nose from what would develop into a full blown cold.
Most of all I was looking forward to having a soak in a nice hot bath. I should’ve checked beforehand because it turns out I only had a shower. The bed was heaven however and after, a long hot shower and slathering myself in lotion, I crashed into a long dreamless sleep.
The Inn was located very close to downtown which was very handy considering I was only in Washington for one full day. This as mentioned in an earlier post proved to be not nearly enough time but I was ignorant to this fact when I initially chose this destination my intention to just see the White House.
First impressions, Washington DC is everything NYC is not. It has wide streets, beautiful old architecture, and it is one of the prettiest cities I have laid my eyes on to date. First stop was the White House however the below picture is about as close to the White House as I got.
Touring the white house is a little complicated for my liking and required organisation months in advance. All I really wanted to do was see it in person on the outside. Unfortunately there was construction work directly in front of the White house blocked off by large fences. From the angle I was at, there were too many trees and security to see anything else worth taking a picture of.
After milling around outside for a few minutes I then departed, running headlong into a protest. Police presence was heavy and the protesters were wearing these funny masks. I didn’t manage to get any pictures however because I was too busy trying to see what exactly they were protesting about.
It was very small, only about 200 strong, and after they had passed I walked on further and found the next closest thing to the White House. A gift shop for the White House filled with chocolate Obamas, and collectable one dollar bills.
After perusing the very cheesy items for sale I exited and began my journey to the Washington Monuments and National Mall.
To say this was great is an understatement. So I’ll just give you a few pictures instead.
Pretty isn’t it? And free, you could spend all day walking around the National Mall and still not manage to see it all. Since I had limited time I chose to only view a few things and avoided most of the museums located on the National Mall.
I ate lunch from one of the many food trucks lining the streets and it was delicious! Once I had rested and let my lunch digest a little I then made my way to the United States Holocaust Museum. The museum is free, however you are able to make a donation if you wish. Is it the right thing to say I enjoyed myself there considering the subject?
Either way time was well spent reading through the exhibits, how Hitler became one of the most reviled people on earth. How the Jewish people were initially treated, then tagged with stars, to when they arrived at concentration camps, tattooed, separated and the very old and young sent off to the gas chambers. There were also exhibits on how their hair was sold as cheap cushioning material, to the millions of shoes left behind as a example of how many died. There was a little exhibit on Anne Frank, and a wall of names dedicated in tribute to all the people who helped hide Jewish refugees during their persecution. It was beautiful and sad all at the same time.
Then in the final part of the exhibits there is video footage of survivors and their stories. I spent over an hour sitting there watching and listening. From the teenage girl who’d made a bet with her friend that they would survive and her friend had bet they wouldn’t. They’d wagered a quart of strawberries and cream for the victor. Sadly they both won because her friend never got her freedom as she perished on the very day they were liberated.
There was also a lady who arrived at a concentration camp with her mother, sister, and her baby nephew. Their mother knowing that any parent holding their children would be sent to the to the gas chamber sacrificed herself by lying to her daughter and grabbing her grandson off her daughter saying she would be treated much more nicely if she were holding the baby.
There were many teary eyes in that auditorium, myself being one of them and I encourage everyone to visit this museum. It’s not all sad however. The lady who had made the wager she would survive, married the soldier who liberated her.
After my visit I walked the streets, taking many pictures, as below. I ended my day with dinner at a Milk Bar of all places. This is the Milk Bar that comes as a part of the Momofuku restaurant, lauded for their Pork Buns to which you’ll see me discuss when we reach Toronto. I didn’t actually eat in this restaurant in Washington due to my delicious food truck fare I wasn’t very hungry, so ordered a sweet potato ice-cream from the accompanying milk bar. So yummy!
The next day I had a 0930 flight and because it was international to Canada it meant getting there earlier than one would on a domestic flight. I had booked a shuttle originally meant to pick me up at 0615, until I got a 4am text advising me my shuttle would be picking me up earlier at 0530.
Not happy but left with this option or a taxi I was ready and checked out by then.
When my shuttle picked me up, we drove around the corner and realised I was actually in the red light district of Washington DC because there were prostitutes lined up on the corner, displaying their wares.
As it were I got to the airport three hours prior to my departure, and came across a very pleasant surprise. I found this at an airport of all places.
A genuine rocking chair. Of course I couldn’t help but rock my world for a little bit before I checked in, then made my way to the security checkpoint where inevitably I was felt up (thanks to my fiery crotch on the body scan), drug swabbed then sent on my merry way. Unfortunately after passing security there were no more rocking chairs to be found.
Washington DC is definitely worth a visit. Next time (and there will be a next time) I think it wise to give myself at least a week to explore. It was beautiful and I didn’t even get to see a most of what was on offer. Lesson learned!