Washington, DC

Trip Start Mar 02, 2009
Trip End Aug 05, 2009

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We cheated a little in the interest of time with a cheap domestic flight from Atlanta to the US Capital City. Unsure of what to expect here, given the reputation purpose-built capitals have for being soulless places inhabited almost exclusively by lawyers and politicians, we were pleasantly surprised to find DC an exception to the rule.

The great metro system makes for fast and cheap transport around the city's many landmarks, most of which are free, which was a unexpected boost to the budget! We took the lift to the top of the Washington monument for a better look. Construction of the monument was halted halfway through, still noticeable by the different shades of brickwork, because a group of rogues, appropriately named the 'Know-Nothings', seized control of the project in protest at papal contributions!

For the rest of the day, we wondered around the 'national mall', stopping to pay our respects at the WW2 monument, then walking alongside the reflecting pool to the iconic Lincoln memorial. Walking up the steps, we stopped to look back from the spot where MLK gave his "I have a dream speech" and the thankfully lesser-known Forrest Gump mumbled his way through his thoughts on the war in Vietnam

On that note, we walked the short distance over to the Vietnam Veterans' Wall, sombrely scanning the names of nearly 60,000 deceased and couldn't help but wonder why. The figure is especially shocking when considering the estimated Vietnamese loses were 20 times that amount. The Veterans' Wall was financed entirely from private fund raising.

In search of lighter sightseeing, the next day we made our way to the entertaining and informative Museum of Natural History. Afterwards we paid a visit to the White house, which we saw from a safe, terror-proof, distance. Since 9/11, access to the building for non-citizens has unfortunately been wrapped in additional layers of red tape, requiring an application to your ambassador months in advance.

With a good bit of planning, we managed to cram a lot into our short time in DC. Other highlights included the amazing collection at the National Gallery of Art, the expansive and surprisingly upbeat Museum of the American Indian, and Capital Hill with the nearby Botanic Gardens.
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