Washington DC

Trip Start Aug 07, 2008
Trip End Dec 10, 2009

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stifling heat was what struck me as i hopped off the bus. Not humid, just REALLY hot.

Within hours of arriving, i was at the HI Washington DC's $3 BBQ. Whilst the ban on alcohol in US HI hostels meant it was certainly no wild party, but it was nevertheless a great way to meet people - Onyinyechi, Doreen and Manny, a hostel volunteer who very kindly offered us a place to stay and transport to see the National parks near his home in Maryland. Unfortunately my short stay meant there was simply no time...the standard touristy stuff had to be done, particularly as that's all there really is to Washington DC itself! Later in the week we simply ignored the alcohol policy and sipped discretely from plastic mugs in the garden...

The HI hostels have volunteers who help out in many ways. Our walking-tour guide the following day was one of them - two tours, each four hours long - free - can't beat that. We saw -everything- on the National Mall (and off it), the war memorials, White House, Capitol, Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, the near comical changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier...and everything in-between. Our guide was over 60, but also a lean mean walking machine that knew everything about the city and the answer to even the oddest questions. This day would prove useful when i returned to Washington with the Green Tortoise Tour - I'd be a fountain of useless facts...and know my way around :-)

That evening, another volunteer, Marc (a derivatives lawyer...) led a tour and night out in Georgetown...one of the ŽniceŽ parts of town. Famous people's houses, the Exorcist steps, poncy university buildings....and finally a bar. Another really good night out - i met loads of cool people including Lea, a fun Belgian girl who working in a chocolate shop back home. One of the guys arrived back at the hostel having been robbed at gunpoint (after wandered into the wrong part of town).

The following day I recovered from the hangover, visited the Aerospace museum (one of the 18 free Smithsonian museums in DC) with Doreen and generally just mooched around. We hit an Irish bar in the evening...and Patricio, i remember your drunken offer of a place to crash in Buenos Aires!

Washington left a similar impression on me as Ottawa did. Contrast - some very polished touristy areas, and nearby some very gritty areas, like where the Greyhound depot was...or the SE, where the guy got robbed. Many people who have lived in DC for years rarely/never venture there. These places are mere blocks apart, in the capital city of the supposedly premier democratic nation in the world. Seems pretty f*cked to me...

On a random note, this huge HI hostel, despite having hundreds of beds and dozens of rooms, has absolutely nowhere even remotely discrete should you need it...grrr!

An interesting and enjoyable 3 days. Time to scoot though. Back on the greyhound...and all the way back up to Boston.
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