After months of planning and anticipation, the day of departure seemed surreal – was I really going to spend the next five weeks traveling around America by Amtrak, my long held dream finally coming to fruition? Was I crazy for wanting to spend so much time on a train, in total the equivalent of seven days and nights, just to get a glimpse of this enormous country? Well, it was too late for doubts now.
First stop, Washington DC, a mere three and a half hours on the train from New York City, a quick hop when compared to some of our future journeys of over twenty-four hours. Fortunately, the train was on schedule and by lunch time we were ensconced in our hotel, The Henley Park Hotel, and ready to explore our first city.
Walking in downtown Washington is a pleasant experience with its wide avenues and grand buildings at every turn. Our hotel was just a few minutes stroll from a very familiar building:
|The White House|
But it was the building next door that attracted my attention. Stretching for at least one huge city block the Executive Building is a magnificent sight.
And how cute is this? Just across the block from the real one, it’s known as The Little White House as President McKinley used to visit here often.
Next we headed to Georgetown via Q Street which is lined with embassy after embassy. Many have statues outside of native-born dignitaries. My favorite was this one outside of the Indian embassy:
As we turned off onto 27th Street and walked through the residential part of Georgetown with its narrower streets, low rise buildings and pretty residential homes, we had to remind ourselves we were still in DC.
|Our river cruise boat|
The forty minute cruise on the Nightingale II offered glimpses of many of Washington's famous landmarks from a different perspective including the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, all of which were on the agenda for the next day.
|The Kennedy Center|
Given the name, I probably should have guessed, but I had no idea that Watergate was on the riverside. Nor did I realise how huge the complex was.
The cruise provided a relaxing end to an exhausting but fun afternoon and our first impressions of Washington left us looking forward to another day of sightseeing in the city.