Monday, 20 February 2012

Washington Didn't Compute

Washington DC was the first stop in the USA for our recent 13 day trip to the US, it was a strange place that is hard to describe but since we flew there I'll give it a try.

View from the plane window

Norngirl is getting her feet wet with that as well as even posting some of our photos and as we were together the entire trip except for one day, I'm going to approach these posts from a slightly different angle though no doubt we'll overlap, even with the pictures in some cases.

So if you'd like to read what we did on our first day in Washington from Norngirl's perspective: Welcome to DC: Day 1.

This is my memory of the day:

We woke up far too early. I sat in Belfast City Airport with a black tea in one hand and twitter in the other. Norngirl and I are tetchy in the mornings and so we were both waking up on a mixture of caffeine and trying not to annoy each other though I kinda failed by a combination of not listening and at other times being too manic when talking about Irish League football. Ah well.

We eventually boarded and after a quick but comfortable BMI flight with a quick read of a complimentary paper or two (wow though, how much do real papers suck compared to the Web, it's been a while since I read one - even the cartoons and sports sections sucked) we were looking out of the plane window at a sunrise filled with vibrant hues of Red and Orange over London.
Touch down soon followed and we collected our bags, switched terminals and before too long had boarded our Virgin Atlantic flight to Washington.

I'm not one to usually plug companies but I love flights on Virgin Atlantic planes that have been recently kitted out with the on demand entertainment systems, combined with the free sky bar it makes the flight something I look forward to as much as some days of our holidays.
On this flight I managed to squeeze in 3 and a 1/2 movies (reviews to follow separately at some point). Sadly there wasn't much to see out of the window as a big blanket of low cloud was seemingly covering most of the coast.

As you can imagine the time flew by and before I knew it we had reached our destination but before we'd even reached the terminal building, I couldn't help but notice what a bizarre little layout they have at Dulles International Airport.

You see the majority of gates appear to be in rectangular buildings completely seperated by aprons from the main terminal building so no walkways between them, just some monster truck sized passenger vehicles called a Mobile Lounge.

This was the first time I'd seen let alone ridden in one of these things. It was a comfortable ride but they're weird looking things, like something from a Gerry Anderson show such as Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet. Norngirl had decided at this point that it was as if we'd landed on a moon base. Which made us laugh even more when we reached the main terminal building after our lounge had docked and we entered a room with swirly modern art hanging from the wall and ceiling. We'd seemingly landed in another world. It soon seemed all too familiar though as we stood in the queue at immigration.

Once through the airport we were boiling, it was cold and wet outside but that didn't stop me asking Norngirl to get me an iced tea whilst she bought her coffee.
Carrying bags whilst wearing a thermal coat... you get the picture, I was boiling.

We got the bus into Washington DC and got off at L'Enfant Plaza. The bus we wanted was sign-posted on the bus stop we got off the 5a at but the one that was already there let someone on but we didn't have change and needed exact change according to the signs so went to get some and that bus had driven away by the time we got back. We then watched the bus we needed pull up and it's driver had a smoke outside the bus. We waited for it to pull up to the stop, it did, didn't open it's doors and drove off. We were stood in the rain thinking 'Riiiiight'. After a while we decided we needed to make a move. So we headed to see if there was anyone alive in this city. The place was totally dead except for the other lost tourists and we were carrying our bags and feeling very tired. Eventually after watching another bus we kinda assumed that the bus did a loop and maybe that the signposted stop was just an alighting stop and not one for boarding... though as a tourist how you're meant to know this deserts me.

First views of Washington DC

So yeah, we eventually found a stop at 7th and SW Maryland Avenue and waited for the bus.
We were joined by another 10 people and we all stood there for a good 40 minutes before any of our buses showed up, an attempt to hail a cab proved unsuccessful.

The rest of the crowd eventually got on other buses and we waited... and at last our bus arrived... followed by another. We were not happy bunnies though we did manage a laugh at the fact public transport was as bad here as back at home. On the plus side, the ticket machine was broken and so the driver let everyone on the route without a card board for free.

We made it to our hotel which was pretty funky and contender for the best I've ever stayed in.
Norngirl put together a little collage of photos I took of our room on her post. The motorised entrance way curtains we're a sight to see, I just wish I'd taken a photo of them.

Relaxing in the hotel in Washington DC

Settled in, we headed for food close by and found a Mexican restaurant. We did get food but the lady who served us didn't seem to want to give us sides with our meal or ask if we wanted a desert, in fairness the meal we got was pretty filling, maybe it was for the best. I do suspect it was our accents that led to some confusion though, ah well.

A short walk for supplies completed the day. With a whole trip ahead and the confusion of the day in my head, I joined Norngirl in bed and dropped off to sleep with my mind dreaming in surreal yet vivid randomness, my mind attempting to piece it all together.

1 comment:

  1. I believe hotels in the US are often amazing! It looks pretty. It is funny though - I have the completely opposite experience of Virgin than you - I truly hate their flights. I guess you only need to fly them once or twice to and from South Africa to truly appreciate shocking service.



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