The US Capital

Trip Start Dec 28, 2007
Trip End Aug 28, 2008

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Thursday, July 31, 2008

After an early start (4:30am) we got to the nation's capital around 11 and got a bus to the edge of the Metro. Thanks to an entertaining station manager we got two day passes and headed for downtown DC where we got off a couple of 'blocks' from where we were staying. After a trek up the street in silly hot, muggy heat we made it and headed straight for the shower. To make use of our tube ticket we took a trip down towards the White House and took a walk around the front to get a great view of the iconic building. After pictures and a chat with two Aussies with whom we agreed on a few 'American' things we took a trip across the river to Virginia and took a walk towards the Pentagon. It's a huge building with lots of important people going in and out, but from ground level it really is not much to look at. We walked around one of the sides to try and get an elevated view but were only just able to make out the shape and to get in you needed a scheduled appointment - guess we're not important enough. Last stop was Union Station for a look around the building and the monuments outside before finding some dinner and a beer (surprise, surprise?). We were entertained a little at the the station by a homeless guy who did one of the best nervous things who have ever heard. Now, we're not making of fun of him but we couldn't help smile when all of a sudden he laughs in a descending squeaky voice and ends it with a film-style 'Wipe-out'! But he didn't do it now and again, he also did it on demand. Unfortunately some kids decided to take the mickey and mock him as he continued to do it but then it got funnier. The lads then tried to copy it by doing it back to him but the man started critiqueing their performances and saying they were crap! Made us and about twenty other people laugh anyway.

With two full days here we got a 48 hour pass on one of the loop buses and took a ride up top (good view but bloody hot!) to Dupont Circle and marvelled at the 100+ embassies that line one of the streets by the Naval Offices. We headed back into the centre and had a walk around the Lincoln Memorial and Korean and Vietnamese War Memorials. It is thought provoking when you walk around these commemorative areas and there can't be many places where, in such close proximity, so many people are remembered. Although a sad and respectful place it is done very well. We continued on to the Washington Monument before heading back for an afternoon cooling off in the pool. There aren't many 'exciting' or 'energetic' attractions on DC but it is completely different to other places we have been. It almost has a difference from New York as Canberra is to Sydney in Australia. To lighten the day we took a walk north to see the 'other side' of the city and found a more residential area
and an odd looking restaurant called Thai-Tanic. Despite it's appearance we headed in an had one of the best Thai meals we have had, and it was good value too. The highlight was the dish called 'Pad Prick Sod'. Thank god it wasn't like the pork ball scenario in Hong Kong!

Back on the bus the following morning we headed to the White House Visitor's Centre to get an insight to the history and interior and were then treated to a spectacle. All of a sudden about 10 police cars blocked off the surrounding streets and stopped anyone moving into the road leading to the White House. Then followed 8 roaring motorbikes, two more police cars, two long blacked out black cars, three or four huge black SUV's with armed security hanging out the windows, a few more police cars and a lot of noise. And that was it. No idea who it was. No idea why they needed to make so much fuss. Hey y'all, we're in America! Once back to normal we headed for the Washington National Cathederal where we walked around the outside admiring the beautiful arhitecture and walked in for a treat. There was an organ demonstration taking place and we sat for around 20 minutes just listening to music we haven't heard in a long time. The acoustics were fantastic and the playing faultless - it was like being at a free lunchtime concert. Next stop was the Arlington Cemetery where the temperature had risen and humidity increased as there was a storm on the way. Nevertheless we strolled around the grounds, amazed at the number of men and women represented, and took a detour to visit John F Kennedy's memorial and eternal flame. Capitol Hill was the last stop of the day before walking back by the northern (rear) side of the White House to ge a closer look where the press normally loiter.
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