Hello, Mr President...

Trip Start Apr 27, 2009
Trip End Apr 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Sunday, July 26, 2009

...well, of course I didn't get to say that because I never bumped into Mr Obama - even though I went round to his house!! Apparently he's a busy man, no time for a wee cup of tea with me.

Washington is a lovely city (well the parts of it I saw are, I'm sure like anywhere it has dubious areas!). Lovely wide streets and avenues, multitudes of things to do (mostly free as well!) and nice hot weather with a wee cooling breeze - what more could you want!

I arrived on Wednesday lunchtime and after my journey into the hostel I went out for a look around at some of the buildings I've seen so often on the TV! The hostel was well located for the National Mall where a large number of the tourist attractions are so it didn't take long to get down to see the Hoover Building, Capitol, Washington Monument and National Mall. I also went on a wee trip up the Old Post Office Tower where you get a brilliant view to all four points of the compass over the city. On my way back to the hostel I stopped at the Smithsonian Castle to get some information on the 19 Museums they have so I could plan the rest of my stay. A nice surprise was the fact that the old American Idol desk is on display there - although I didn't get to sit on one of the seats and pretend to be anyone! Went for dinner at Capitol City Brewing where they did delicious fish and chips and enough free refills of sprite to stave off dehydration!

On Thursday morning I went on a free tour organised by the hostel to the American History museum which was a little disappointing (the tour not the museum) as we ended up missing the museum tour guide and getting shown round by the volunteer who basically read the sign then told us what the exhibits were! We ended up all going our separate ways to look around and find what interested us - after seeing C3-PO in the entrance I though R2 might be around somewhere but no! I did see Dorothy's slippers from the Wizard of Oz, Julia Child's kitchen and a completely reconstructed full-size house dating back to the 1700s which was quite interesting. Afterwards I headed next door to the Natural History Museum to see the largest elephant on display (it would have weighed 18 tonnes!) and the Hope Diamond and many other interesting displays.

After finding a sandwich shop for lunch and waiting on a small rain shower to pass I started to make my way up to the Capitol Building for the tour I had booked. There were quite a number of police cars blocking roads which I didn't understand until I saw a large motorcade of cars coming round the corner - apparently it was the President of Iraq going up to the Capitol (for a meeting not a tour!). I managed to video it then carried on my way. If I hadn't stopped I would have been safely inside the Capitol Visitor Centre by the time the thunder and lightning started!! After seeking shelter under a traffic light and various trees which questionable success I decided to just make a run for it, I was not the wettest person by far but I certainly wasn't dry!!

The tour of the Capitol was interesting, it's a beautiful building, although a little shorter than I had thought and because the House of Representatives and the Senate were both in session I didn't get to see their rooms as I didn't have time to queue for a different pass. At night I went on a tour in the Georgetown area of the city which was slightly shorter than it should have been because although the rain had stopped there was a continuing electrical storm that threaghtened to tip down on us at any moment! Gegoretown was a lovely area though and I went back yesterday for a wee look around in daylight at the houses (including the one that JFK and his family lived in before he became President. I didn't bother going back to the "exorcist steps" (where the scene of someone falling down steps was filmed in the Exorcist - they probably don't have the same draw during the day as at night!

On Friday morning I went to tour the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world although many of the books are stored in the 17 underground levels so didn't see many of them! Again, it was a beautiful building - which it should be given that the architect was told that there was no limit to the budget for it!! Afterward I stopped in Chinatown for some lunch (I guarded the leftovers to make sure no-one stole them!!).

Friday evening was time for going to the ballgame - baseball! I went out to Nationals Park for the game between the Washington nationals and the San Diego Padres. I actually really enjoyed it - my seat had a great view, there was tons of entertainment (everything from a competition between dancing fans and a giveaway of free tshirts to a race between 4 mascots dressed up like former Presidents!) in addition to the baseball, the weather was lovely and I kind of understood what was going on (thanks to Jon's lessons back in BA!). Even though it lasted around 3 hours it didn't feel that long and the firework display at the end was excellent.

Saturday morning was time for my tour of the White House. I was a little disappointed that it was a self-guided tour rather than someone speaking but there were very helpful Secret Service (how can it be "secret" when everyone knows they are there?) agents in every room to answer any questions. No sign of Mr Obama though (or the dog...sorry Kirst!). I made it back to the hostel in time for a tour of some of the many monuments in Washington which was a very long walk (about 4 hours) but definitely worth it. After eating my leftover chinese I headed back to Georgetown for a wander then headed back for a quiet night resting my feet and putting some cream on my small amount of sunburn - the lovely breeze fooled me into thinking it was cooler than the 31 degrees it actually was and caught me out!

Today I'm heading off to Philadelphia on the next leg of my trip by bus.
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