Chilling in the Capital

Trip Start May 24, 2009
Trip End Nov 05, 2009

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Well, after 14 weeks camp is now over and I've been released back into the real world, which involved a 6am start from camp on...wait for it...a yellow school bus! 

Monday morning started early, much too early for me as I woke up at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep.  I braved the cold and dark at 5am for my last shower at camp (can't say I'll miss showing in a wooden cabin in the woods!) and then our final walk up the hill for some breakfast.  The last two days of camp had been a bit sureal because you could really see how few people were actually left, particularly at meals, when the dining hall which had been full all summer has reduced to 6 tables of staff.  And the final mornings breakfast was no exception, everyone dressed for the outside world, ready and waiting to go.  Some tearful goodbyes followed as we said goodbye to the girls who were leaving later on in the day or Monday and headed out of the camp gates for the final time.

Two and a half hours later we arrived at Union Station in DC, the official starting point for my travels around the US. 

Quite few more goodbyes as most people were catching a train to New York with just a handful of people staying in DC for a few days.  Nutmeg and I hopped on the Metro to drop out bags off at the hostel which is pretty decent.  It's about 15 mins outside of downtown DC via Metro in a residential area, all of 50 metres walk from the station (which was great with heavy bags!).  It's a small hostel in a converted Victorian house, lots of original features downstairs and the dorms are the original bedrooms so pretty compact but they haven't tried to shoehorn in too many beds.  We've met a lot of friendly people here, from all over the world, including several Aussies, an Austrian girl and a few passing Americans, everyone is pretty chatty and sits around watching TV together etc.

So after we dropped off our bags we headed back downtown to meet up with Karina, another girl from camp who's also staying in DC for a few days but at a different hostel.  We met up in Chinatown and had a look around before deciding on sushi for lunch.   Found a pretty good sushi place and got my fill for a bargain $9 (about 5.60) and the girls got bento boxes which were also pretty reasonable.  After lunch we started another wander and came across Madame Tussaud's, who had a buy one get one free offer on entry.  Before the day was up we also headed to the National Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art, one of the free Smithsonian museums.  They had a collection of folk art which I liked as well as some intersting photo portrait collections, got to be honest, some of the older landscapes etc they had left me a bit cold.

Yesterday we met up with Karina again as we'd decided to see some more museums and then head to Georgetown for lunch.  First stop was the National Archives, home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights documents as well as lots of other public records relating to various periods of US history.  I was really glad that we got to see that as I'd wanted to go there the last time we were in DC but didn't get around to it.  Luckily for us DC is pretty quiet right now as most US schools have gone back, so we didn't have to wade through huge crowds to see everything.  We had a decent look at the Declaration etc and then headed to the Public Archives, which is a large exhibition on the different types of records that they hold.  That was really interesting as they had lots of touchscreens, audio clips etc that you could use to find out more information.  I particuarly liked the collections of letters to the President that had been collected over the years, including one from a WW2 soldier who wrote to Roosevelt to ask him to be Godfather to his son and a funny one from some factory girls begging the President not to give Elvis a GI haircut!  

Today the three of us decided to head to the zoo.  It's also part of the Smithsonian Insitution so entry was free, always a bonus!  The zoo was really big with pretty much any annimal you could imagine, including elephants, bears, pandas and kapibaras.   We also got to see a kiwi up close, a bonus for Nutmeg being from New Zealand, as apparently you rarely get to see them up close as it's so against Maori culture to keep them in captivity.   It was much bigger than I imagined, I thought that they were tiny but it was the size of an average cat.  After we were done in the zoo we took a walk into the Adams-Morgan district, another historical residential area (like Georgetown) which has tradtionally been the Latin area of the city.  It was really nice to see a less touristy area of the city, even if it wasn't the most glamourous.  I guess we walked about 3 miles in total, not including all around the zoo, so we decided to treat ourselves to dinner out.  It turns out that Nutmeg had never had tapas so we decided on La Tasca, not my first choice as I try to avoid eating at chains that we have back in the UK, but it was nice and she enjoyed it. 

Well, this is just about the end of this mamouth blog entry!  Tomorrow we're moving on to Philadelphia, catching the 11am Greyhound which should get us around there for around 2 in the afternoon. 

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