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Welcome to Washington, D.C.


Washington D.C. is a great city. About three days will be plenty, leaving enough time to pack in as many sites, landmarks and museums. On our first visit, we spent the best part of half a day was spent waiting in line to visit the White House (see tips below for more info). We visited Washington D.C. even before the West Wing TV series had made a dent in our viewing habits, but it's amazing some of the building and streets you recognise when watching the program, which has been a lot since that trip!

TIPS

Places of Interest: Everywhere! Seriously, Washington D.C. has so many places to visit that you will already know of, you hardly need us to tell you. However, some of the places visited and enjoyed were The White House, where visiting in December is probably not the best time of year for outdoor activities in Washington. How they hold the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony outdoors in January is beyond us. Just tough I guess. Getting into the White House even at this time of year is a slow process. The queue stretched from 'a side entrance' (that's not meant to be secretive, we just can't remember the exact entry gate) around the front to The Mall against the fence for something like three hours. In the blistering cold. The only entertainment? Watching the heavily armed Secret Service patrol the grounds, but even that became boring after a while. After passing through security, the tour takes about 15 minutes and you think to yourself "that's it?" No Oval Office, no Situtation Room, no Nuclear Launch Codes, Nothing. Except a few rooms named after Presidents only some of us can remember, some paintings of people nobody knows, and more Secret Service agents. Still, if you want to say that you've been to the White House like us, then it's worth the wait. And it's free.

       White House           Lincoln Memorial                  
Try picking one or two of the Smithsonian Museums as there are loads of different ones in Washington D.C. We visited the National Museum of American History, which featured a lot about the American system of Government, various war campaigns fought in, and other exhibitions from various periods of the country's history. Excellent for an overview of the country's progression and often they have travelling or special exhibitions, so worth a look for that. Also visited the National Air and Space Museum. Needless to say, this was pretty cool and had enormous replicas of planes, space capsules and everything else the Americans have tried to launch into the air or orbit over the last 100 years or so. Find out more at www.si.edu/museums

We didn't actually venture inside the US Capitol Building but seen from a realitively close distance, it is impressive. As is the Lincoln Memorial with its huge statue of Abraham Lincoln and view over the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument. There are two really amazing and moving places to visit: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Arlington National Cemetary. The former has the names of almost 60,000 service men and women who died or are missing in action from the Vietnam War. When we were there, many people were looking for the names of relatives along the wall, but I'm sure this is the case most of the time. The latter is actually outside Washington D.C. but is an easy cab or metro ride. The most famous grave here is John F. Kennedy.

There is so much more to see and do in Washington D.C. and surrounding area. Even if you are not American (like us), it is still easy to appreciate the depth of this country's history, present and, in some cases like Georgetown University, its future. A revisit to the city sometime in the not-too-distant future.   


Accommodation: being big internet hotel bookers (sometimes using guidebooks as well but they seem a bit 1990's now), we came across Red Roof Inns (www.redroof.com) on our first trip to the US and duly booked the Washington location for a couple of nights. It is situated in the Chinatown district and it easy to reach by taxi or bus from the central train station. We also found it easy to get into the main part of town using either our feet or the metro. As far as memory serves, it was around $US90 per night for a big double room that was clean and quiet, with traditional vending and ice machines at the end of the hall, and coffee and donuts in the lobby come morning time. It didn't include breakfast.

Food: our culinary experience of Washington DC was not that exciting, but mostly through our own choosing.  

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