Washington DC is an interesting city, one steeped in tradition and where all the old buildings seem to be of some significance in American history. Which would have been amazing if I were American but nonetheless it was quite interesting. For instance when I visited the National Archives the Declaration of Independance and Bill of Rights were on view - which was cool to see as I've heard of them before, but most of the other people there were in an almost reverential state!
Another funnyish thing was the street naming convention. As most of you probably know, many North American cities have numbers as street names. This makes a lot of sense (and is really useful when you're new to a city) but DC takes it one step further - the North-South roads are numbers (1st St, 2nd St) and the East-West roads are named after letters (A St, B St). I was initially very confused when I asked for the closest pharmacy and the guy goes "on the corner of 14th and K".
Anyway I did a lot of touristy stuff - visited all the monuments and went to a fair few museums; photos and blurbs are below...
This is what I was meaning, a gorgeous old building, which is the Department of Treasury. A lot of the architecture is like this in DC.
THE WHITE HOUSE
The White House, complete with a sniper on the roof. The oldest public building in DC and where every President except George Washington has conducted the US government
Me posing ;)
The crowds outside the White House.
I remember thinking to myself, "well this isn't that bad, you can still stand outside the White House and take photos post Sept 11" when all of a sudden some military guy comes down the footpath saying "OK quit taking photos and move along". I thought it was crowd control but no, they were closing the footpath.
It was quite amusing listening to an American tourist trying to get the down low... "Why are you closing the sidewalk?" "For security reasons" "Is the President coming out?" "I cant answer that" "Why not?" "For security reasons" "Can we come back later?" "Sure" "So when will it be open again" "I cant answer that" "Why not, oh hang on, let me guess, for security reasons?" Man it was funny listening to the interchange!
THE NATIONAL AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
So Washington DC has this sweet deal where almost all the museums are free, which makes it very easy on the wallet, especially if you are on the plunging Kiwi dollar!
A sliver of moon rock
Gemini IV - the spacecraft that supported the first American spacewalk in June 1965
THE NATIONAL MALL
The Mall is the piece of land stretching from the grounds of the Washington monument to the US Capitol. It has seen many protests and rallies over the years but when I was there, this is what greeted me...
So it turned out that all of the military hardware was part of a Careers Fair. So what does Nivi do? Get in the thick of things of course!
A lot of monuments in Washington DC seems to have reflecting pools in front of them which makes for good photos!
THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT
Funnily enough, built to honour George Washington. The obelisk is 555ft high or about 170m and frankly is a lot more impressive in real life than my photo...
WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL
Over 16 million Americans served in WWII and each star on the wall represents 100 lives lost. (I counted them, there were 4048 stars.)
Now this is a memorial! The structure is grand enough but when you add all the history (for example, Martin Luther King made his "I have a dream" speech on these very steps) it makes it a very impressive monument.
Me posing with the statue, apparently Lincoln's hands sign the letters A and L in American sign language...
The view from the memorial (looking East). Spot the groups of school kids...
ARLINGTON CEMETARY (next day)
There are approx 285,000 graves at Arlington - veterans from each US war are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through to "war on terror" in Iraq. Needless to say quite a sobering experience...
After Arlington I went to the National Holocaust Museum which was a brilliant museum. No photos allowed (which is why I haven't posted any) but a museum I'd definitely recommend to anyone visiting DC.
On Monday night I stayed with TC Uncle, Shanthi Aunty and Sharm - family friends from NZ whom we first met when we lived in Bahrain. It was great catching up, we hadn't seen each other for about 5 years and seeing Sharm was quite a shock! He'd changed from a Kiwi-accented kiddie to a 6ft1, 17yr old complete with the american drawl! Anyway thanks Aunty, Uncle and Sharm for your hospitality :)
Me, Shanthi Aunty and Sharm
Me & TC Uncle