I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Sunday 7 June 2015

Washington - Tuesday 9th June

I realised as I was reading through the last blog post that I hadn't thanked Maggie and Richard for our wonderful week on the Outer Banks. What a serious omission - that will teach me to write the blog after going out for dinner and enjoying the wine 😔. Anyway a very big thank you goes out to both of them from Richard and I. Eddie drove for miles and never complained and when we got back each evening he was in the kitchen preparing food of varying types - vegan mostly as I wouldn't expect him to manhandle our meat! He didn't even complain when my now bulging suitcases caused him problems with packing the car. Maggie - well she is my bestest friend and I miss her so much - I can't wait until you both come to the UK next year.

Up early again as we had a train to catch.  We had breakfast, packed up again and got a taxi to the station.  As We were being told that the train was running late I realised that we were, in fact, 25 minutes early!  I got confused with the time of today's train and Thursday's - still at least we were early and not late.  The first thing we noticed was that there was no platform - I thought that was an old movie thing but no it's still like that today.  I had booked business class seats as it was a 6.5 hour journey and I was really glad I had.  The leg room was amazing, in fact I could hardly reach the foot rest on the seat in front!  We had free soft drinks and everyone was so nice.  The big drawback was that the windows were so small.  Richard had the window seat and I really couldn't see out at all.  I had hoped that we would have a double decker train but it wasn't to be.  We reckoned the driver must have to wear ear defenders as the horn was being constantly sounded.  We had to pull over and wait for some time while a goods train came past - Richard reckoned it must have been at least a mile long!

Union Station is an amazing place - I will take photos when I have the time but we wanted to get to our apartment.  It was only half a mile so we walked - big mistake!  We have two large suitcaes and two small ones and even though they are so easy to move on a floor they are pigs on the uneven pavements (sorry sidewalks) of Washington.  Any we arrived hot and tired and found our little basement home.  It was very hot and I was rather worried but I contacted the owners, who live next door and they came round and switched it on!  It seems that the previous tenants hadn't wanted AC - why??  I must just tell you about our host Katie.  She looks about 35ish and has four sons - 6 tomorrow, 4, 3 and 18 months!!  I have to say that she looks very well on it all!

We went for a stroll and to get something to eat.  Everywhere was very quiet with it being a Sunday evening but I bet it won't be like that tomorrow.

We were back down at Union Station by 10am and onto the open top bus for our first proper look at the city.  I was so disappointed to see that the Capitol Building is covered in scaffolding - apparently the dome is undergoing a two year renovation which they hope will be completed this autumn.  It still looks great though 

It was then down to the Washington Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial -passing other memorials on our way.  I did wonder why we don't have such grand memorials in the UK then realised that we just don't have the room!  As we went back passed the Washington Memorial we had to get off the bus as I needed the restroom urgently - sadly this was how the day progressed!  We did catch another bus which took us out to Arlington Cemetery, but we didn't stop, then passed the Pentagon and into Pentagon City.  This is an area of shops, hotels and apartments - I guess for Pentagon workers.  It was then back to Union Station via all sorts of other places.  We had lunch at the station and then took another bus to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  This is an amazing FREE museum (as are all the Smithsonian museums). We wandered around but I just felt more and more rotten and ended up sitting on a bench insisting that Richard carry on without me.  We took a taxi home and Richard walked round to the pharmacy to get some revolting pink pills that I had to chew.  However with those and an hours sleep I felt so much better that we went out to eat.  Goodness knows what was wrong with me.

Once again we were down at Union Station by 10am and this time we were headed up to the zoo, passing the White House (what a tiddly little place it is - I've seen bigger in Fort Lauderdale!) and through Dupont Circle and Georgetown (the oldest part of the city) This part of the city is so different to not only where we are staying but to where we were yesterday.  The main reason of going to the zoo (FREE) was to see the pandas and see them we did.  There are three of them, Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and Bao Bao.  Tian and Mei have had two cubs so far, Bao Bao being one of them and there are hopes that Mei is pregnant again but they won't know until about two weeks before she gives birth.  I saw pandas in Beijing Zoo but these ones looked so much more content and the public can see them better.  There are four photos - I think you can work out for yourself which is the two year old and which are the adults!

It was then a whistle stop tour of the zoo but we really didn't have much time at all.  We raced back to the entrance to catch the 13.20 bus but had to wait about 45 minutes so could have had much longer looking around.  We had hoped to stop off at the cathedral for another whistle stop tour but as the bus was late there was no time.  Maybe you are wondering why we had no time today and why we were rushing about well I had managed to get tickets before we came away to go up the Washington Memorial at 4pm and we weren't going to miss that.  The tower is over 555 feet and the lift takes 70 seconds.  The original lift was a steam one and took 13 minutes.  Washington is heaving with school children this week as the schools broke up last Friday and now they are all on educational/fun trips.  I was talking to one teacher who said that this is the busiest week - trust us to choose it.  The reason for telling you this is that we ended up in a lift full of teenage testosterone!  The tower was started in 1848 until work stopped in 1858 as the money ran out, consequently the bottom of the tower is a different colour to the top.  In 1876 President Grant authorised the completion of the work and the capstone was put on in December 1884.  The views from the top were amazing and we were able to work out how the city works.  The new Constituion of the United States took effect in 1789 and gave the newly organised Congress of the United States authority to establish a federal district up to 10 miles square in size.  In 1791 President Washington appointed Pierre L'Enfant to plan the new city which he did as a grid system.  East/west streets are named using letters while North/south streets have numbers.  Diagonal broader avenues crossed the grid.

From the Memorial we walked to a bus stop but decided to have an early (and expensive) meal at Occidental before getting the bus back to the station and walking home.  As the Americans would say we are sure pooped tonight!

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