Thursday, 23 February 2012

Walking around Washington DC

Smithsonian Institution BuildingAfter an evening of the unexpected on day 1 in Washington DC, day 2 of our visit started off the same way but ended nicely.

So following a good sleep in a bed that didn't bend my spine in strange places (unlike our one at home that does), I woke up as if I'd got up at lunchtime. My body clock likes going to this time zone, it's the only time I can get up at 7.30am and feel like I assume most 'morning' people do *shakes fist at morning people*.

With me wide strangely awake and a little hyper, and Norngirl not so much so (caffeine hadn't yet kicked in), we spent the next half an hour or more stood waiting on a bus. This was getting to be an all too familiar ordeal. Eventually it came and it took us within sight of the route it had taken the night before... only to then be caught in a one way system that circumvented the place we wanted to be. Realising this, we got off at the nearest available stop - by the agricultural department - we wanted to be outside the old Post Office, ah well. So we made our way across the mall and had a look at the Washington Monument.

Panorama of the Washington Monument and Mall

We knew where we were going but stopped to check the sign for later to see which of the buildings was the museum we were going to. Before we'd chance, we were approached by a guy who was trying to sell free maps (one of which we already had) to tourists. This seemed to be a big thing in Washington DC, there were an awful lot of homeless people and it seems their main source of income is anyone who looks like a tourist. As bad as it feels to say no to someone trying their best to emotionally manipulate you into buying something you don't need nor want, we did say no thanks and got the 'ah you didn't do anything wrong' guilt spiel. I tend not to give money to homeless people. It might sound harsh but in the UK I put money into official charity boxes instead where it might be spent on food and shelter and not on the cigarettes and alcohol that plenty of homeless folks seem to have on their person. At least that way the money can be used constructively to help even if it doesn't address the immediate needs or wants of a person on that individual day.

All that aside, we made our way along the path past another homeless person who was wandering the lawn who shouted something at us, the other few tourists or another homeless guy that was indecipherable that didn't sound friendly. We quickly moved on to find our way to the Old Post Office.

Washington DC Old Post Office Building

Washington DC Old Post Office Building Tower

We had planned to go up the tower to take a look but the place was deserted and by the time we found a sign stating which entrance to use, we were already running behind schedule so gave it a miss. Afterall, we didn't want to be towed for idling... in this usually warm winter it just wasn't cold enough for us to stay there for long.

No Idling Sign

Instead we walked past the FBI building where a very enthusiastic lady from out of state sung the praises of Washington and told us how she'd been up the old post office tower before... at least someone was having a good time in this city!

FBI Building Washington DC

Next we found civilisation as we walked past Ford's Theatre. Norngirl was amazed that I didn't know the reference as to why it was an infamous location, ah well, I knew a matter of seconds afterwards that it was the theatre where Abe Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

Ford's Theater Washington DC

The streets were still quiet but we soon discovered the population of Washington DC appeared to be having brunch. So we joined them and had brunch.

It was a quick brunch though for our itinerary had us down to be at the Verizon Centre to watch the Boston Bruins Vs Washington Capitals. I'll be putting together a separate post on our 3 hockey games from the trip (so I'll put a link here once I post it near the end) but for now, here is the cool inside of the Verizon Centre, a cool place to watch hockey!

View from our seats at the Verizon Center

Finally having found something happy to do we were in better spirits and walked down the hill to the mall where we saw a few more sights along the way.

Sights like this place that I can't find the name of and that I didn't know what I was looking at at the time...

Some buildings in Washington DC

And the Capitol Building... from this angle, nestled in a construction site.

National Mall maintenance in front of the Capitol Building

Our destination was the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, the one with this big piece of modern art outside it that reminded me of the road system in this city.

Ad Astra Sculpture

And here is me taking a photo of the national mall through the reflection of it in the windows of the museum.

Reflecting Washington DC

The National Air and Space Museum was awesome, I especially liked the space exhibits. I could have stayed in there the best part of the day but we only had a couple of hours until it closed. From seeing yourself through a live thermal heat camera to a simulation of a NASA moon landing there was plenty to see and do.

There seems to be something about ice hockey and museums that makes for a fun day - like our awesome day in 2010.

After leaving the museum it was getting on a bit and the sun was starting to set.

Washington Monument No Parking

The evenings entertainment for us was a monuments by moonlight trolley bus tour but to get to Union station we had 2 buses to catch - we waited for 5 minutes before opting to walk it to just catch the 2nd of the two buses and we walked up to Chinatown. Hard to miss Chinatown in Washington DC, the start of it looks like this:

Washington DC Chinatown

In that time, our bus didn't pass us so it was a good choice. It wasn't such a good choice to leave that bus stop after 10 minutes and walk to the station. Our bus went past us about half way. Ah well, at least we knew we'd get there on time + the place looked pretty in the twilight of a cloudy dusk and into the dark of the late evening, so walking, although bad for Norngirls hip, was a nice way to see the city a bit more.

Anyway, before too long, there we were at Union Station and in time for our tour with time to grab some food in the station's food court.

Washington had grown on me a little but there was still much to see that day, albeit in the dark... on the Monuments By Moonlight Tour...

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