Monthly Archives: September 2014
A quick nip over from NYC landed us in arguably the capitol of the world! Armed with cameras, walking shoes, backpacks and a pug, the mission was to conquer the city in 1.5 days flat in a whirlwind of marble columns, bronzed statues and political correctness.
One of many things I can commend the USA on, is that your little four-legged darling need not stay behind whilst travelling, and hotels go out of their way to accommodate the extended family member. Considering most NYC doggy hotels charge $60 a night and up, taking your pet along on holiday is massive cost saving too! We checked into our 4 star doggy friendly hotel, the Loews Madison, grabbed our doggy goody bag and then headed out for a drink and stroll around the Capitol Gardens. The Loews Madison was perfectly situated directly 1 block opposite the White House, perfect for easy access to all the key monuments and tourist traps that the city has to offer. Unfortunately, as we were arriving Obama was headed out to Camp David for the weekend, however, there was still some drama on 2 occasions where within 24 hours of each other, people jumped the fence and sprinted across the lawns. Apparently the one guy needed to warn the president that the atmosphere was collapsing…..not sure how scientific his research and data is, but for now, I am not going to worry, the President has the memo…..
We headed to the Old Ebbitt Grill, situated across from the White House for a night cap. According to their website, it was established in 1856 and was a favorite of Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Theodore Roosevelt. Additionally, this historic Oyster bar is renowed for the best Bloody Mary in Washington!
Day 1 of full day sightseeing commenced amid a gorgeously bright skied day in the Capital and 30 degrees on the mercury scale. From our hotel, this would take us neatly past the White House and straight down to the Washington Monument.
Laugh if you want, but from watching multitudes of Hollywood movies depicting the White house, I had imagined this larger than life structure surrounded by armed guards, fearsome jowl drooling German Shepards and perhaps camera mounted drones flying overhead with sensors identifying potential threats. This notion was immediately proved wrong by a relatively small 2 story building set slightly back from the road, with the odd short sleeved Secret Service patrol man standing back chatting to his collegues, casually observing the plethora of tourists taking selfies with their iPhones against the barricades.
Equally surprising would be the blatant protests stands and people with signboards standing around making it very obvious that they do not approve of the current governmental strategies or leadership. This is also not something that is focused on in the movies or media coverage, but it was all generally peaceful and the Secret Service did not seem to be taking it too seriously. (Note, the views of the sentiments in the images are NOT of the photographer’s and are merely for travel documentation purposes).
The next stop would be the Washington monument, this phallic shaped obelisk in the centre of dozens of red, white and blue striped flags can be seen from virtually anywhere in downtown DC and is truly impressive being the worlds tallest obelisk and tallest stone structure at 169 meters tall. Saying that, at night, this imposing figure looks to me like an evil Transformer with 2 red blinking eyes at the top….like I said, too many movies….
You can do the Monuments tour easily by foot, the landmarks have signage in each direction and you can follow the National Mall walkway or take a longer route all around the Tidal Basin (about two miles total).
The trick here is to try do half by day and the more impressive architectural buildings in the evening when they are lit up with more wattage than Times Square!
On the other side of the Mall, looking down from the Washington Monument, you will be able to see the majestic Capitol Hill building and the next stop on our trip.
Set slightly to the side of the Capitol Building, you can also find the National Botanical Garden Conservatory. This glass paneled green house is a great rest stop on any tour – with time travelling abilities – as each room transports you instantly to arid cactus infected deserts or lush tropical rainforests teeming with palm fronds.
Afternoons in DC are scorching, which allow for tourists to escape into the labyrinths of the air-conned museums of the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian is actually made up of 15 separate museams, including a zoo. So should your interests lie in fine art, air and space, animals, the bling of the Hope diamond or books, you should be able to fill up your day with scores of interesting facts and knick knacks.
As a child, a library to me was like entering a magical fairytale kingdom, and to this day, going into a library and smelling that ink on paper, or finding an old book store with first edition copies makes my heart aflutter. It made sense that I would want to visit the National Library of Congress, only THE largest library in the world, with 500 miles of bookshelves and 151 million items catalogued. The building architecture and artwork itself could easily be found in the Doge’s Palace in Venice or the Vatican – just jaw droppingly beautiful. The current exhibition with Persian artifacts dating back to the 1400’s and the encased original Gutenberg bible from 1450, considered the most valuable book in the world, are just some of the treasures to to be found here.
Tired little Pug after a busy weekend!