Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Welcome to DC - Day Three, Part 1 - Monday 6 February

A brief interlude from my self-indulgent reliving of my recent travels just to acknowledge that this is apparently my 100th post on this blog. When I consider how many posts I've written on forums and Facebook and the like, 100 doesn't seem like all that many, but I never knew I had 100 unique thoughts in my head, let alone any I could discuss at length, so, I guess, go me, or something... Happy century, little blog!

We now return to our feature presentation...

We woke up on Monday morning to a bright and crisp morning in Washington DC. We finished packing up our belongings into our suitcases once again (it hardly seemed like any time at all since we'd originally packed them in Belfast) and decided to go for a walk to enjoy the beautiful morning before we checked out.

We grabbed some more free tea and coffee from the hotel bar and set off outside with our takeout cups. The Yorkshireman's internal GPS told him that our hotel actually wasn't that far from the White House and, having stared at Google Maps for long enough myself, I concurred. We made our way along to 16th Street and, hey, whaddya know, there it was at the end of the street. It was about a mile's walk in all from the hotel to the railings surrounding it but it was a pleasant enough walk, even passing the National Geographic Society's building on the way (Mecca for a geek like the Yorkshireman - he even took a photo bless him).

I was surprised by how few tourists there were outside (the White House, not the National Geographic Society) but then maybe 9.30am on a Monday morning isn't peak sightseeing time. We took a few photos and admired the fountain and columns (you're really into your classical architecture, aren't you DC?).

17 white house

Next we took a look at Concepcion Picciotto's anti-nuclear protest, conspicuously sitting right between the White House and General Andrew Jackson's statue in Lafayette Park. Concepcion herself was not present at the time, but her tent was attended by a bearded friend. I'd remembered seeing the protest in Fahrenheit 9/11 and our trolley tour driver had told us about her again the night before, so it was interesting to see it in person. I haven't really looked into what the protest specifically stands for (other than its anti-nuclear sentiments) but regardless of whether you agree with her or not, you've got to admire her staying power - she's been there since 1981!

18 protest

As we left the White House we crossed Lafayette Park and marvelled at the grey squirrels' complete lack of fear of humans... one came right up to my hand (probably thinking I was feeding it) but I didn't fancy being bitten, so we left and went in search of our own breakfast. We stumbled upon a Starbucks and I had a bagel with cream cheese and a skinny white chocolate mocha (which was to become my breakfast of choice throughout most of our trip).

We headed back to the hotel via CVS again, this time to buy some medicated lip balm - something about the air in the USA always seems to give us chapped lips and dry hands for some reason, even though it might have been colder in Belfast. Strange.

At the hotel we took advantage of the free $10 credit we got for the mini bar as Kimpton In-Touch members and I got myself a little tube of cheese stick things (kind of like Nik Naks) and a Diet Coke for our onward journey. Then it was time to leave our beautiful suite and check out. Check-out was again perfectly efficient with no issues or problems, so I left with a fantastic impression of the hotel and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone, especially if you can get a good deal on one of the suites like we did.

Outside the hotel with our backpacks on and suitcases once again in hand, we realised we were once again reliant on public transport to get to the station. Sigh. A little research had revealed that our best bet was a bit of a walk down to K Street and get a bus directly from there. The WMATA website had suggested getting the D6 bus from there, but when we arrived we came across a Circulator bus sitting at the stop that said it was going to Union Station.

We'd seen these Circulator buses going around during our time in the city but had no idea what they were or how they worked, just that they seemed a heck of a lot more regular than the Metrobus buses. We confirmed with the driver he was going to Union Station and hopped on with our cases. It was only $1 compared with Metrobus' $1.70 fare. So, more regular and cheaper and less exact change needed. I wish we'd figured this out earlier!

We arrived at Union Station and found our way to the Amtrak self-service ticket machines, scanned our barcodes and collected our tickets. Then we went down to the food court again and bought a foot-long sub each from Subway. We had half each in the food court (while I huffed at the Yorkshireman for mocking my inability to manoeuvre myself, my backpack, my suitcase and my crutch on to the fast-moving, narrow escalator down into the food court without falling to my death - how caring and sympathetic my husband is!) and saved the other half of our subs for the train.

Then it was time to bid adieu to Washington DC and take the midday train going anywherrrreeeee. Or, more specifically, New York City, baby! Yeah!

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