9th August - D.C., all things Presidential
Trip Start Jul 14, 2008
38Trip End Aug 17, 2008
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For our first full day in DC we were in luck, it happened to be one of the three days throughout the whole year that the White House gardens are open to the public. We were dropped into the city shortly after 8:30 a.m. and headed straight to the ticket booth. Although the tickets were free, you had to pick them up and then come back later in the day. We were lucky enough to get tickets for 10:30 so we just killed some time in the White House visitors centre until we were up.
After waiting in a huge line and going through a security checkpoint (the first of many in DC) we made our way into the gardens. Once inside, you were basically part of a giant snake winding its way along the paths. There were guards armed with sub-machineguns to ensure that you didn't stray off the path!! We got some cool photos out the front of the oval office before heading towards the exit
Fiona and I were keen to check out the National Archives after watching the movie National Treasure the day before while Kelsie and Adrian wanted to check out some of the museums. We agreed to meet later in the day to catch the train back to our hotel.
The National Archives are set in a beautiful building (like most of the buildings in DC, amazing) and after a short wait we were inside. The significance of these documents first hits you when you walk past a copy of the Magna Carta before you reach the Hall of Records, housing the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the 10 Amendments. The documents are housed in climate-controlled cabinets that are designed to retract into a bunker under the building in the event of a natural disaster, nuclear war etc. so that they can be retrieved by the survivors!!! We stopped in the gift shop on the way out so that Fiona could pose with a copy of the Declaration of Independence, like the one Nicholas Cage bought in the movie.
Once we had re-adjusted to sunlight after being in the darkened archives for an hour, we walked up toward the Capitol Building. We knew we stood no chance of getting inside (you have to line up at 8 a.m. just to get tickets!!) so we took some photos out the front, including an awesome one taken of the both of us by some random Brazilian guy. The strange part was when his friends also started taking photos of us on their cameras!
It was getting towards our meeting time with Kelsie and Aids so after stopping at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to have a look at the Wright Brother's plane and Apollo 11 control module, we headed to the train station and met the others for our ride back to the hotel.
The train took an incredibly long time because of trackwork, but thankfully the hotel re-sent their shuttle bus to pick us up from the station.
That night everyone dressed up to the nines for a night out in DC. We were driven into the city and let loose to organise our own dinner, with a plan to meet up later. Kelsie, Aids, Troy and I went exploring and stumbled across an Italian restaurant that was advertising cheap beers. Sold!! Troy devoured his first 'parmy' since leaving home while the rest of us dug into some really good pizzas. By the time we had finished dinner we still had nearly 2 hours until we were meeting everyone else at the Rhino sports bar at the other end of the street, so we decided to pub crawl our way back. We had a drink in 4 or 5 different pubs, and I somehow managed to get BBQ sauce sprayed over the back of my dress pants by some older women in one of the bars we entered. Not particularly impressed, but wasn't going to ruin my night.
We eventually made our way to the Rhino and met up with the majority of our group for a few more drinks before Todd ordered a heap of taxi's to take us to another bar called Madam's Organ, located in Adam's Morgan!
I have no recollection of what time we decided to leave, but it was in the wee hours of the morning. Before we headed home we devoured the largest slices of pizza that you have ever seen, literally needed two hands to handle them. Just as we were about to leave we realised that Adrian had gone missing. He wasn't answering his phone so a couple of us decided to split up and check in the bars along the street. Adam's Morgan was quite an African American neighbourhood and to say that I stood out in some of these bars was a massive understatement. I ended up finding him walking back towards the place where we got our slices of pizza. In his rather intoxicated state he had apparently walked into another bar after noticing them doing karaoke!!
Getting a taxi home was almost impossible due to the fact that our hotel was out in Maryland and local regulations said that DC taxis were not allowed to pick up a fare in Maryland. Stupid!! After stopping Todd from kicking one taxi that refused to take us we eventually got a decent bloke who agreed to drive us home. Although Todd was just as wasted as the rest of us, his tour manager instincts took over and he managed to guide the driver back to the hotel.