My Fellow Americans

Trip Start Sep 01, 2012
Trip End Nov 12, 2012

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Washington is a cool city. For the directionally-challenged like myself, it's really easy to navigate since most of the streets are just letters in one direction and numbers in the other so I know how to get home no matter when I end up.
My first night here I caught up on some much needed sleep. This hostel has the most comfortable beds and bedding of anywhere I've stayed so far on this trip. I woke up to a bunch of over-excited guys shouting that they needed to leave now and beat the storm. Thinking a hurricane was on the way I quickly googled on my phone, to discover the "storm" was just a patch of rain scheduled to hit sometime that morning. Rain didnt bother me as I planned to be indoors all day getting my museum on. Washington is home to something like 16 Smithsonian museums and they are all free, it's awesome.
I walked down to the Museum of American History hoping to see lots of wild west stuff but aside from a prairie wagon in the foyer it was pretty disappointing. About half of the exhibits were closed and being renovated so there really wasn't much to see. An exhibit on war, the presidents and a really hard to navigate wing on transportation. I wasn't very impressed. So I headed next door to the Museum of Natural History to see the Hope Diamond. I plan on seeing the Natural History museum in New York so I didn't want to see too much and spoil it. I looked at the stuffed mammals, then went through the geology exhibit and saw the diamond plus a bunch of other cool rocks.
Somehow it was already 3pm by the time I'd wandered through both museums and I was meeting my friend Ariel (who I met in Caye Caulker) for dinner at 6:30pm so I decided to walk home via the White House. I had probably over-extended myself with walking too much as I was still feeling pretty weak and my stomach had been crampy and unsettled all day. I took it as slow as I could but I'm still recovering and not feeling completely back to my normal self.
I met Ariel at a local Ethiopian restaurant called Etete, which was cool because I'd been wanting to try Ethiopian for ages. We ordered a vego plate with a bit of everything on it and pinched mouthfuls up in between injera pancakes. It was really delicious, not as spicy as I thought it would be but full of flavour. It was great to see Ariel again too and feel like a normal person catching up with friends for dinner after so much backpacker socialising.

Since the weather was beautiful today I made a beeline for the zoo. The novelty of a free zoo was too good to pass up. Since it is free, the layout is a lot different to other zoos. There is no large outer wall so you can literally drive around the entire zoo and enter anywhere you want. I saw people jogging through the paths too, which was weird but if its free I guess why not! I think it would be a great place to take kids, lots and lots of educational signs and interactive exhibits plus there was restrooms and bins everywhere so the place was spotless. It's definitely the nicest, well-planned zoo I've ever been too. I had the luck of turning up at the Cheetah exhibit just in time to see the first ever interaction between the new babies and the established adults. Lots of roaring at the fence and babies going mental. I saw the beavers getting fed and some bored lions. They have a cool orangutan exhibit where the orangutans can actually climb a rope across the zoo to their other enclosure without anything protecting the public underneath them. Also you can play tug of war with them when they are in the mood to grab the rope. I also saw some legit sad pandas. The girl panda had a baby a few weeks ago but it died and they were just all sad and flopped on the ground. There was a wall full of letters from little kids offering condolences to the pandas. Aw.
I was starting to feel like I had reached my walking limit again but before I went home I walked over to the Adam Morgan neighbourhood to eat at this vegan felafel joint that Gabe recommended to me. It was pretty delicious, they give you the pita with the felafel inside and then you choose your own toppings for it, a bit like Spud Bar.
Now I'm back at the hostel getting ready to watch the Presidential Debate on tv. People in Washington actually care about this stuff, it's really cool. I watched the Vice Presidential debate when I was in hospital and boo-hissed Paul Ryan's stupid pro-life response.

Tomorrow I have a walking tour of the monuments booked and I want to try to visit the Museum of the American Indian. Also at some point I need to do some souvenir shopping which I am terrible at. I've bought almost nothing and I feel bad about it. No Christmas presents for anyone this year!
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Jo Le gras on

cool that you're enjoying Washington..sounds like you are definitely back on the ball...and good to hear. New York layout just as comfortable to get around.. not adventurous but simple sensible layout (and reckon you'll enjoy Museum of Natural history more in NY) wave hello to Obama for me! sounds like a fun appropriate time to be there and glad to hear you're comfortable x

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