I figure as a starting point for my road trip across the USA were better than its capital city, Washington DC. I also wanted to be in a major city that was not too far from the Blue Ridge Parkway which was four hours south and to which I’ll write about in my next update. Prior to that, however, I would spend a few days in Washington to take in what the city is about, its history and identity.
I landed at Ronald Reagan International airport, I couldn’t think of anything more American than landing at an airport at an airport named after the former president. I then transferred to the Washington Metro (which is a free service) and after a short journey to Dupont Circle I headed up Washington street to my hostel. My time here was only two days so there would not be enough time to get across all the attractions, in fact, I barely touched the service, so I would focus on the Smithsonian and some of the iconic attractions
I met up with a few backpacking friends from Miami and took a subway to the Smithsonian, as indicated the service is free and a first class covering the entire city and beyond, I was most impressed with the ease and convenience to navigating the city. I had virtually no understanding of Washington apart from all the movies and tv shows Id taken in so I thought I was already prepared. My friends told me that the Smithsonian rather than one stand-alone museum is actually made up of 19 separate museums covering entirely different exhibits, all combined together to make the world largest museum. It was now evident that two days was not nearly enough time so we concentrated on what interested us, so we decided on the Natural History, American History museums and a walk through the Smithsonian gardens.
The Natural History Museum has is free entry, in fact, the whole Smithsonian is free, this museum happens to be the largest natural history exhibition in the world. It includes many dinosaurs, the Hope diamond and a detailed exhibition of human origins, realistically you could spend a day in hear alone, we were in the for a few hours. Next, the American History museum which covers the development of the USA from Colonial times to today with over 3 million items, our self-guided tour was almost as rushed as this sentence. Then it was onto the Smithsonian gardens, a large collection that covers the entire Smithsonian complex, while we ran out of time to investigate internally some of the other museums, the gardens make for a quality setting that encapsulates all the museums. After that, my friends and I went to the pub, had a few beers and then I headed off to bed early as the following day was my last.
I was up early, unfortunately, it was raining but I decided to do a self-guided walking tour regardless. I grabbed a map from the hostel, purchased an umbrella and followed my plan to see as much as possible by foot. In retrospect, it would have been a better idea to take a bus tour but I considered myself a backpacker so decided to save on the cost, knowing Washington the tours were probably free. I headed to the National Mall which includes the Smithsonian and took in the following historical landmarks which I will briefly mention –
Washington Monument– the tall obelisk building, built to commemorate George Washington and of Egyptian design I had the obligatory photo taken (see below)
Lincoln Memorial – this is of Greek design, I entered the building and there was Abraham Lincoln sitting on his chair, to me it appeared more like a throne
Three War Memorials, World War Two which is a fountain with 56 pillars and two arches, Korean Memorial 19 statues, two remembrance walls and the pool of Remembrance, and the Vietnam memorial, 75 metre of wall black shiny quartz rock inscribed with the names honouring all American soldiers involved.
I headed then to Arlington Cemetary across the Potomac river, 624 acres and established during the American Civil war, it contains the dead of past American conflicts and also includes Arlington House of Greek design and the former home of civil war general Robert E Lee. It overlooks the Potomacc river and the National Mall and contains some history of the American Civil war. I then went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier a memorial to combat soldiers who died without their remains identified. I watched the changing of the guard which happens every two hours. I then went to the grave of John F Kennedy, walked to the Capitol building of Greek-Roman design and is the home of the United States Congress. and then headed to the White House home of the president. and of Irish design. After a lot of paced walking on a rainy day, I went back to the hostel said goodbye to my friends and went to sleep.
After visiting Washington DC I gained a greater appreciation of what Americans feel about patriotism and how their national identity is a major part of who they are as a people. With such an impressive historical city highlighting the strength and love of what it is to be an American it would be difficult not to be moved by the reverence of the city. The city itself is a bussling place with a lot of determined looking people going about their business, with the tourism element I believe it’s a place that does not slowdown. Transport and free museum entry is an added bonus, I believe I could of spent weeks there and only got a glimpse ofthe place but now it was time to get going…..