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Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

He says:

I have decided that if you multiplied the size and influence of Canberra by around 10 you will get something very similar to Washington DC. Large empty sidewalks, confusing roads and a strong feeling that if it wasn't for the national monuments and museums there would be very little to attract a tourist. It is probably the exact opposite of NYC in nearly every way... Even finding a bar for a drink yesterday was a horrendous challenge. Having said that, the monuments and museums are 10 times better then those in Canberra so they were well worth a visit.

After getting dropped off in Washington and feeling very lost after leaving the logical street address system in Manhattan behind we went in search of a cab, which seemed non-existent... After wandering around aimlessly for a while it dawned on us that not all cabs in the world are yellow... and armed with this new discovery we eventually hailed a cab and went to our hotel... Now for those of you that haven't been to Washington you will not be aware of the crazy cab charge system... The lack of any type of taxi meter made me feel like we were going to be kidnapped and killed, however, apparently this is normal and the taxi driver apparently simply nominates what seems to be a random number at your destination with no obvious rational, which you then have to pay... There actually is a system based on zones but it is so complicated and there are so many additional charges (extra people, rush hour, fuel surcharge, etc) that I was completely clueless and am sure I got ripped off consistently.

After reading a few reviews of our accommodation on the bus down, let's just say I was a little concerned. 'Hell in DC', 'Cockroach heaven', and 'DO yourself a favor, DON'T STAY HERE' really didn't inspire confidence, but I was game so we pushed on... The front didn't inspire much confidence and so ,holding my breath, I stepped inside... However, after such a buildup it was a big anti-climax... The place was basic, but clean, pleasant, brilliantly located a couple of blocks from the Mall and friendly. After settling in and having a Nana nap we rang Sarah (a work friend, who was over on a work-trip). It was good to catch up and she was very happy to see some familiar faces after spending the last 2 weeks on her own, including a bout of food poisoning bad enough to land her in hospital...

The next day we were up early to make the most of our short stay in the capital and headed down to the Mall. We walked all around the mall and saw all the sights, which were all pretty spectacular. The US certainly likes their monuments big, bold and domineering. My personal favourite was Roosevelt's memorial, which was huge, interesting and had the coolest man made waterfalls all the way along it (it stretched probably 2-300 meters... We made a side trip into China town after the White House for a very bad lunch before walking back down to the Capitol building and then went to the Air and Space museum (pretty cool) and the Natural History museum (Gaynor wanted to see the butterfly's (not as good as Melbourne zoo's BTW) and the Hope diamond (huge)). Both were pretty good, however, by this stage I had probably walked the equivalent of Washington to NY and back (no exaggeration) so was more then a little sore and tired... So caught a taxi up to Sarah's hotel again and collapsed on her rather palatial sofa (BTW if anyone from work is reading this ask Sarah about her hotel in DC... It was fucking insane! There was enough silicon and botox in the women's bodies to smooth out the Washington streets... I felt rather scruffy turning up in jeans and jumper every day.). After a very pleasant evening (it was quite nice to have a preggers person there to moderate our drinking and bed times) we retired to bed (along the way witnessing the immediate aftermath of a rather bad collision between a cyclist and a car, of course, this being the US where there are laws against such things, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet...).

Yesterday Sarah was free in the morning so we met up and after planning to go to the Crime and Punishment museum, which after much searching no longer appears to exists, we ended up at the Spy museum instead... I would have loved it as a kid but was probably 10 years to old so didn't have as much fun as all the kids running around like maniacs... Then after seeing Sarah off we went to the Holocaust museum, which was really fantastic but shattering and slightly unnerving. The number of children who were in there (after numerous warnings both in writing and verbal) also had me a little concerned and worried. So again, shattered and exhausted, we retired to Sarah's sofa...

We had one last meal with Sarah and said goodbye last night and were up bright and early this morning to catch the bus back to Manhattan. Tonight we are staying in an upscale hotel in Midtown that we booked off Hotwire (see Sarah, we can both play at this game...) and we are flying out tomorrow evening at 6:00pm for London (via Zurich...). I am not sure when the next opportunity to update the blog will be as we will be out in the outback of England for a week so if I don't update for a while I am either out of Internet range or have been abducted by pykies ...

She says:

Hi All, it's been a fair while since I have written anything on the blog so I thought I better make an effort and in doing so assure you all that I am still alive. There isn't much different to report really (seeing as Tom writes a novel each blog) but I will say that I enjoyed Washington. It had been a long time since I visited with my family but obviously the main attractions are much the same. I think I appreciated it all more this time but I do remember things being bigger (I guess you have to expect that between a 5 year old and a 23 year old's perspective). I was really impressed with the holocaust museum the exhibits that they had were unlike anything I've seen before. They had a cast of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz (if that's how you spell it) and many other exhibits on loan from the various concentration camp museums including a huge pile of shoes taken from the people when they entered the camp and other personal belongings. It was quite moving but maybe a tad confronting for some of the children walking through. The spy museum in complete contrast was obviously built for children. To be honest I was incredibly bored by the whole thing but luckily there were heaps of hands-on things to do (which was handy seeing that I'm pretty sure Tom stopped to look and read about every item on display).

So now I am sitting on the bus on the way back to NY and I am fairly happy to be sitting down. As Tom mentioned we walked a lot (which always ended in competitions about whose feet hurt the most, apparently I had no chance to win as I was up against Bionic Foot ).

That's about it from me except before I go I just want to say Happy Birthday to Vic and Joey (will try to send emails but a having problems with some of my emails getting through). I looked at the calendar and realised what date it was. Better late than never I guess. Hope you both had a great day!

If any of you are still awake after reading all this I commend you and hope that you are all well. I will try and write from England.

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angelasusan on

Canberra writ large...
Well, at least the cherries were in flower. Makes you wonder what they will build for the Iraq memorial (now their longest-running war since Vietnam).

angelasusan on

Hi guys.
Its great to see you both having such a good time. All that planning paid of.I've been reading all your blogsand ammazed at your stamina.What a great way to start your trip. I hop[e Europe turns out to be just as good.Thinking of you both a lot more often than I write.The car is great ,weather is coo, work is frustrating and I'm enjoying getting into the new book you gave us about collapse. lots of love to you both and keep up the excitement.Pete

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