Washington DC

Trip Start Sep 17, 2006
Trip End Dec 23, 2008

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Thursday, September 18, 2008

I wake up in Washington DC, thirsty and hungry. Within 45 seconds of opening my eyes I am in the 7/11 over the road, buying quaissants and Coke, I can start being healthy tomorrow. Turns out that whatever the hostel has in terms of a laundrette is out of action to guests until at least 4pm. I wander up to the laundrette advertised on the ‘guest map’. It turns out they are just dry cleaners.

The sightseeing urge then gets to me so I head down into Washington on the Metro system. A few glances at street maps later I’m within a block of the White House, home of the US President I believe. Security is mild but not at all over the top. I had expected more. I walk into what is basically the back garden of the White House. It’s the view you get on TV most of the time. I wander around the ‘elipse’, the Washington monument comes into view. It looks rather like the industrial chimneys that they’re trying to knock down back home.

Wander around some more buildings that are typically named ‘US Department of XYZ’. End up in what seems to be something to do with the US Postal Service. It’s a small shopping centre with a food court. I’m shocked to see that to get in you have to walk through a metal detector, airport style! I am in need of a phone card so decide to proceed. As well as a phone card I get a picture of me and Barack Obama (see the photos) for 2.50, I thought it was a steal.

Dressed in yesterdays clothing and with nothing clean left I entered Macy’s. Macy’s is a department store similar to John Lewis, selling lots of stuff on many floors. Despite being hungry I walk around for over an hour, finally settling on six items. The cheapness of everything available shocks me. Designer stuff half the price of identical items in the UK, on top of that discounts bring the prices down even further. Finally on trying to buy the clothes I get told about an ‘Overseas Visitor Card’, this gets me 11% off everything and all I need to do is show some form of non-American ID! My driving licence suffices and bingo my bill is even lower, two shirts, a Nike t-shirt, and a sports top, plus three pairs of shorts, for around 60. All top brand names. I can see now why weekend trips to New York to shop are so popular!

Go out in the evening with an English guy called Paul who is in my room. He’s a fellow cricket fan and we discuss the Ashes. Visited two bars in downtown Washington, got my first taste of tipping a bartender. Paul tells me that $1 per drink or round is about right, no need to calculate exact percentages.
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