Sunday, May 17, 2015

Amtrak Adventure - Day 2 - Washington DC

In my initial trip plan Washington DC was a one night stop-over before we continued on to Richmond, Virginia, but due to ridiculous hotel prices in the latter city (there was a sporting event happening that day) I decided to extend the stay in DC instead. I’m glad I did. It meant we were able to spend a whole day exploring the Mall area.

We started at the Washington Monument, arriving just in time to grab one of the last available tickets to go up to the top later on that day. The short walk from our hotel had taken us past one grand building after another: The Carnegie Library, The National Archives, The Department of Justice and (even) the Internal Revenue Service. What surprised me was that despite the buildings looking as if they had been there for centuries, some of them were only completed in the early 20th century.  

We spent the morning exploring the Mall to the west of the monument. First stop was the National WWII Memorial. The stone pillars representing each state surrounding a plaza with a fountain truly creates a reflective mood.

 The memorial remembers not only those who served in the military but also the civilians whose lives were impacted by the war.

Wreaths had been laid to commemorate the recent 70th anniversary of VE day and the presence of many veterans, most in wheelchairs accompanied by younger members of the armed forces, made the visit more poignant. 

A Reflecting Pool separates the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial from the Lincoln Memorial. Despite having seen many photos of the latter I was impressed by the sheer size of the statue. It really is a sight to behold and probably my favorite of all the memorial statues. 
 There are certainly plenty to choose from:

The Korean War Memorial 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial


The FDR Memorial features not only 
statues of both Franklin and Eleanor but also some of the president's more famous quotes. 

and finally the Jefferson Memorial which is yet another awe-inspiring sized statue. 

The lay-out of the memorials around the Tidal Basin, an inlet of the Potomac River, makes for  a pleasant walk and conveniently brings you back to the Washington Monument without having to retrace your steps. By the time we got around it was time for our ride up to the top. Damaged by the 2011 Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene, the monument was closed for 32 months for repairs, but luckily for us re-opened in May 2014. It is the tallest obelisk in the world and the views from the observation level are amazing. 
The Capitol

The White House

Back down to earth and it was time to head to the Capitol Building itself. Unfortunately the Mall is undergoing turf renovations which means that the whole middle section of the Mall is closed off to the public and looks rather unattractive (especially from the top of the monument):

And the dome of the Capitol building is currently encased in scaffolding:

but the rest of the building almost makes up for it. And I'm sure it will look nice when the work is finished.

Having just about had enough of monuments and statues for one day, we headed off to explore the nearby Eastern Market. On the way we came across the Library of Congress. I had to take a picture of that - somewhere in there are two print copies of each of my four books!

Overall, we had a fabulous if exhausting day. I was almost sad that we didn't have even more time to spend in the city there was still so much else to see and do, but our next destination beckoned.  I would definitely come back to visit again.

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