Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Washington, DC 2013

So where did I leave off? Arriving in DC. Okay, so yeah, arrived, got checked in. All was good. I didn't officially decide that I was actually going until a week or two before I left so I ended up being in a hostel room with a bunch of strangers. It was fine. I've stayed alone in hostels before...although this was my first time in a co-ed room, but it worked out.

Monday morning we were scheduled to meet at the main hostel (we were divided between two and I was in the "other" one) at 10am to go to the Museum of National History. We walked from the hostel to the museum as a group. It wasn't all that far and it was a good time to chat with people. I connected with my friend Louise who I had spent time with in Quebec City and met two people that she had met on the bus. Jen and Taylor are both from Laurier-Brantford (a satellite campus) and they are really cool. This ended up being the group I hung out with most. Now I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed to not hang out with the other people on the trip but it's just so difficult with a large group and a very unstructured agenda and this way I got to see what I wanted to see. Still it was a tiny bit disappointing.

I could tell very shortly after arriving at the Museum of Natural History that it just wasn't my thing. I wasn't in the mood for dinosaurs and "man's pre-historic beginnings" so I convinced Taylor and Louise to go with me to the Museum of American History right next door. That was more like it. We started with an exhibit about the American flag and national anthem, which I really enjoyed since I'm hoping to write a paper on that topic, and then moved on to one comparing slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation with the Civil Rights Movement and the March on Washington.

The next exhibit was on the evolution of food in America and, just like Julie I got to visit Julia Child's kitchen. My friends didn't understand how excited I was and I'm realizing I haven't actually blogged about it, but trust me, I was excited :)

After the museum (and a little trip to the security office because I lost my favourite scarf :( ) we met up with the larger group again. Taylor and I were going to accompany the prof to the National Cathedral (while most other people either went to Georgetown Cupcakes or the Spy Museum) but when we realized how beautiful of a day it was, with a forecast of rain the next day, we decided to go see some monuments instead. I have been to DC 2006 but we only had about two hours to drive around and see things. This time I was determined to get closer to some of the monuments. Specifically I wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Wall and hopefully the Jefferson Memorial if it worked out.
So Taylor and I walked most of the length of the mall, past the Washington Monument, through the World War II Memorial, past the reflecting pool (which actually had water this time! It was being renovated last time I was in town) to the Lincoln Memorial. It was pretty cool to see. I really enjoyed seeing the spot where MLK Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech and looking down the mall. We also listened to the Ranger give a talk which was really interesting.

The Wall was a little less inspiring but that is because I have no emotional connection to any of the almost sixty thousand names listed on it and I've been doing a lot of reading about memory and commemoration and had a lot of the dissenting opinions about it in my mind. That meant I looked at it a bit more critically, but it was still interesting to see.
After that much walking we were getting tired so we headed back to the hostel. We tried to take the subway but we were also trying to buy passes for the next day and our Canadian credit cards were rejected because we don't have zip codes...or the machine wasn't working. We're still not totally sure what was wrong but the attendant ended up giving us free one way tickets so that was pretty awesome. We had made plans to meet up with Louise and Jen for dinner. Two different people had suggested that I try out an Ethiopian restaurant when I mentioned I was going to DC so, on the advice of the security guard at the Smithsonian we took my car up to the Adams Morgan neighbourhood and went to an Ethiopian restaurant there. It was definitely an experience. Not the most amazing food I've ever had but I'd be game to go again. I think I enjoyed it more than they did but they were good sports. After dinner we went to Georgetown for ice cream. Well, we went in search of dessert and found the Haggen-Daaz store so ice cream is what we had.
Tuesday we met u for breakfast at PAUL, a french bakery suggested by the prof who coordinated the trip. I got confused on directions (I can handle the streets and avenues, it's the wacky boulevards that throw me off) so we ended up taking the long way there but that gave us a close up of the White House so that was okay. After breakfast we split up. Jen and Louise took a bus to Mount Vernon and Taylor and I finally made our way to the National Cathedral. It WAS raining, so it was a great day for it. The Cathedral was amazing. I'm really glad I got to see it. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how long it actually took to build. Something like 80 years but all in the 20th century. Wow. After the Cathedral (which we drove to, I have to admit, it was nice to have my car even though parking is crazy expensive) I dropped Taylor off at the Holocaust Museum and headed over to the Newseum (I think that's how it's spelled. The News Museum). I couldn't find any parking though and when I realized I was getting ridiculously frustrated and slightly irrational, I just headed back to my hostel and took a nap. It was a good decision. I'd still like to visit that museum but you can only fit so much in to each day.

We met up for dinner again that night. We had agreed earlier in the day that we wanted another ethnic experience but we wanted something close to the hostel. The first restaurant we came to was a Cuban one and it was FANTASTIC. Really. Great atmosphere, great service and delicious food. We did tapas style dining and there wasn't a single dish we didn't love. It was awesome. After that we kind of started walking...and walking...and walking. I wanted to see the capitol building and Taylor wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial at we went there via the Jefferson Memorial...make that we WALKED there. To put it in perspective, the Mall, from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial is two miles...but we didn't walk straight there. Yes it was a long trip but we knew it was our last night so we just kept going. And then took a taxi back from Lincoln LOL
And that was about it! The four of us met up for breakfast again on Wednesday before they boarded the bus. Before I headed south I went back to Georgetown and checked out some of the stores there. I didn't leave DC till after 11 and since I had a ten hour drive back to Georgia, I pretty much drove straight through. I was surprised that I wasn't more tired than I was but I only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks. I got home around 10pm and didn't sleep in all that much the next day. I didn't have class until noon so it wouldn't have been bad but still I was happy with that.
So that was my adventure in Washington, DC. This is technically my second time in the city and I'd love to go back again. There is so much to see and only so much you can absorb at once.

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