Sunday, August 28, 2011

DC Day 2.

Capitol though the haze while waiting for tickets to Washington Monument

It was such a struggle to get up Saturday morning, having gone to bed at about 1.30 and was up at 7 so that I could get tickets to go to the top of the Washington Monument.

Morning In DC

I go to the monument at about 8 and there was already a massive line, I didn’t think I would get a ticket, but it ended up being no problem.  It was so worth the wait and hassle of getting the tickets. From the to you can literally Washington in its entirety. That was pretty cool.  You can see out of the monument from all 4 sides, you get an aerial view of the white house, you can see right down the mall one way to the capitol and the other to the Lincoln memorial and out the other side to the Jefferson memorial and over to Virginia.  The very top level is the l=observation deck, then one level down as part of the monument, they have a history of the monument, details about the building its self and also stuff about Washington himself.

Looking over the White House from top of the Washington Monument.

Washington Quote

Next stop was Arlington Cemetery, again you may recognise it from bones, they have filmed there a bit. I jumped on the metro and made my way there, For a cemetery it really is something to look at.  It is a military cemetery, everything is set in neat rows, and all gravestones are exactly the same, its eerie that it is all the same but beautiful at the same time. The main reason to go to Arlington is because its where JFK is buried.  I had put on face book about being in Washington and a friend  asked if I could go to JFK’s grave and leave flowers, your not allowed to leave anything but I did take some photos and send it to her. She was happy with that. As weird as this is to say, JFK’s grave it beautiful, it is set high up in the cemetery so from that position you can see out across the rest of the cemetery, and like with anyone important that dies in the US, they have inscribed one of his famous addresses around his grave. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the country.” At the cemetery there is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,  which was built for each and every soldier who was killed in battle and wasn’t bought home, and for all those who deaths were never recorded, it is a really stunning memorial.

JFK's Grave Site

Inside the Metro station

Back on the metro and I headed to back to the mall to start on the museums..  First stop was the Holocaust Museum, I have been to the one in Sydney, but that had nothing on this. There was a couple of points where I almost gave way to tears, and then came so close to loosing it when I with about 70 others were pushed and locked into a train carriage, this carriage an exact replica of the trains that serviced Auschwitz. We were left in there for maybe 3 minutes, it was so hot and cramped, there were so many people, and it made me feel sick. In Nazi times, these trains carried on average 120 people per carriage, that is nearly double than were standing in there when I was, and these train could travel for up to a week in these conditions, often up to half of the carriage would be dead on arrival at the concentration camp.  I actually can’t imagine what it would have been like, and count myself as so lucky to live now, to be white, straight and not part of any other marginalised minority.

After the holocaust museum, I was in need of subject a little lighter to look at, so I headed to the Smithsonian - Air and Space Museum. I love space! Here I saw Buzz Aldrin’s space suit that he wore when he first set foot on the moon, I saw one of the re-entry capsules from one of the Apollo space missions, and hung out in the planetarium for a little while.  I went up to the first flight exhibition, and they had the original prototypes from the Wright brothers, I didn’t know this but they originally owned a bicycle shop, that’s why their first few prototypes were basically a bike with massive wings. This was also pretty cool to see. Makes you wonder what we will achieve in another 100 years. I also touched the moon! There is a very small part of the sample that was bought back from the landing, on display, pretty damn cool.

Buzz Aldrin's Suit From The Moon Landing

Next I walked up to the Capitol building, wow.. probably one of my favourite buildings in DC,  to think of the things that have happened inside that building, the great minds that have walked its halls and the history that has come out of it.. it kind of overwhelms me.. I would really have loved to sit on the gallery when they were in session, unfortunately they weren’t in session while I was there, and I couldn’t even do a tour as its not open to the public for tours on weekends. Threes always next time.. and there will be a next time.


While on my way up to the capitol I happened upon a Frisbee tournament, haha, only in DC. I stopped and watched for a bit. 

National Archives

So I moved on to the National Gallery of Art, like NGV but way better, not having much time I wanted to go to the photography section have a look and go,  and as my luck is the only gallery they had closed was the photography section… moving on, next stop was the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  While walking there I'm pretty sure I saw Air Force One come in. the plane that looked a lot like it,  went overhead to the airport then about 10 mins later a helicopter went across the other way and disappeared behind the white house.. AHH I LOVE WASHINGTON…

The Smithsonian of American History is pretty damn sweet. This is the museum that has all the classic awesome American pop culture history things and also a  lot of political history stuff too. Like Michael Jackson's hat from the Billy Jean film clip, there is the ruby slippers from the Wizard of OZ and the original Muppet puppets.  I saw the hat Abe Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated,  President Taff’s inauguration carriage and Jackie O’s Inauguration Ball Dress. I could have lived in this place..

I went into the gift shop to buy something and was looking for my phone to make sure I had time,  I didn’t want to miss the bus. I didn’t bring my watch overseas so I was looking for my phone, then realised it wasn’t in my bag.. panic set in, it has everything on it that I needed, like my receipt and reservation number for the bus,  details of the apartment we were moving into and Kat's phone number so she could actually let me in when I got there. I realised I had put it down in the toilet and not picked it up, I went back as quick as I could, not at all expecting to find it, but it was still sitting in where I left it. This is one of the busiest museums in the world and I realised about 10 mins after I had left it and it was still there!! Could not believe it!

I got really shitty after this and just wanted to get back to NYC,  I headed back to the hotel to pick up my bags, and sat in there bar for about an hour charging my phone and laptop for the bus. My bus was scheduled at 6.30 but I wanted to head down a bit early so I could get a seat on the window, which meant I had access to the power socket. I love this about American buses and trains, nearly all of them have free wifi and power, makes the trip way more bearable.  I go to the bus about 5.45pm and the earlier bus was still sitting there, I decided to pay the $5 re booking fee and grab the slightly earlier bus, there was no point standing there for anther 40mins when that could be 40 mins on the bus getting closer to NYC.

I got back to New York about 10.45pm , grabbed a cab and got back to Williamsburg about 11.15, Kat was still up, so we had a beer or 2 on the roof, had a chat and caught up on each others weekends, then went to bed… I was absolutely wrecked.

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