Our trip to Washington, D.C. was a short one. 1 full day and 2 half days and this was the last half a day, a Monday morning. We always find it tricky doing touristy things on days where we're travelling too, it has to be well co-ordinated and preferably something nearby. With that in mind we held off checking out of the room in order to take a walk to nosey at the White House and to grab some breakfast.
The White House was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel and even though the building itself turned out to be smaller than we'd imagined it to be, we could see it most of the way, such is the road layout of this purpose built capital city.
The walk took up past quite a few random buildings and the odd statue, things that aren't hard to find in D.C., for instance, this is a view from our hotel room window:
I was happy to find the National Geographic Society building because I have a chronic case of nerd.
We became slightly more pass-remarkable than usual as walked past a Church of Scientology, seriously like, as if the old religious institutions weren't bad enough. After that the White House was looking a bit nearer and within a minute we'd walked through Lafayette Park and joined a few other tourists in sticking our noses through the railings to get a better view of the place. Quite a grand little building, though much smaller than I'd imagined.
We didn't stay too long and headed slowly back, only yards away from the grounds of the White House sits Concepcion Picciotto's anti nuclear protest.
Back in Lafayette Park we took a closer look at the General Andrew Jackson's statue.
Norngirl, even without anything but her animal magnetism, managed to make a friend of a Squirrel in the park.
And there were plenty more looking on from the trees.
We then made our way back up another street and had some breakfast in a coffee shop before checking out of the hotel and finally finding a bus that came when we needed it which took us to Union Station.
Where we caught our train... destination, New York, New York.
Here are my final thoughts on Washington, D.C:
Basically I found it to be a strange city.
The place is seemingly purpose built for government and smooth running of a country but yet it seemed to us to be a capital that you'd not really want the rest of a country to be like because it's not really a city that functions like a regular city. Maybe that's the point?
On the whole it was a pleasant trip but I have to admit I left it slightly tainted with strong images in my mind of seeing a high proportion of homeless people. That and bus timetables that may as well have not existed.
Washington DC is a capital city that I found was lacking a heart and soul compared to most other capital cities I've visited. The culture is there in the form of museums and sports, but for me it seemed to lack a connection - something human and vibrant rather than oversized buildings with empty streets. Most cities I know come to life on a weekend but Washington was an exception.
The simplest way I can describe it is that Washington DC is just like one big front end 'anywhere in the world' government office building - a place that is pretty empty outside of office hours and seemingly there to be functional at minimal expense on the inside, yet on the outside extravagant and grand, styled enough to try and impress stakeholders when they visit.
There is enough there to see if you want to visit specific buildings, mainly the Smithsonian museums and see the monuments but I think if I lived there I'd get pretty bored and annoyed very quickly. It is somewhere I'd visit again for another couple of days but not somewhere I'd stay for a week or more. The northern parts of the city seemed the most 'alive' but there wasn't much to write home about. So yes, a strange city, I guess this is largely due to it's functionality but surely it can't be that tricky to try and bring some life into a capital city, planned for federal use or otherwise.
A place to visit but probably not to stay - though saying that, our hotel room was probably the best on our trip... go figure.