Friday, 28 September 2012

I Pledge Allegiance...

Or I don’t. Because as every person I spoke to today now knows, I am not American. The repeated question of, “oh, where do you come from?” has yet to get old and has sparked some great conversation.

Today I was a very grown up girl and travelled to Washington DC, capital of the US of A, via metro by myself – planning a day of tourist bliss. Those of you who know me will know just how obsessed I am with lists and planning, and this day was no exception – I knew what I was to do today, how I was going to get there etc etc and it seemed to all go to plan, even negotiated the Metro system.

Safe to say, I visited the Washington Memorial, the Abraham Lincoln memorial, and the Capitol amongst other things and it was all I thought it would be and more; overstated, political and very proud (not that the Americans don’t have anything to celebrate, don’t get me wrong!). Someone (I’m hoping Michelle or someone equally fabulous) was leaving the White House at my time of visiting so I unfortunately wasn’t able to get very close, but I have several awkward tourist shots to compensate. 

WWII Memorial at the top of the Reflection Gardens.
Awkward tourist shot no. 1 - the Washington Monument and I.
Oh, America.
Chillin' with Lincoln (awkward tourist shot no. 2)

At the bottom of the Monument, I struck up conversation with a wonderful group of American tourists, I walked down the Mall (which is not quite the same as our London one leading to the Palace (cue nostalgic sigh of England) but incredibly impressive) and climbed up to see Lincoln. Despite the rain the night before, the sun didn’t let me down and I basked in it as I admired the Reflection Pool.

Walking up from the memorial, I stumbled upon the White House (almost accidentally) then treated myself to a wander around the National Art Gallery, both contemporary and older buildings, which was very interesting with my favourite exhibition being Turner and the ‘British Landscape’ – quite fitting! I saw some brilliant Gris and Picasso too. The sculpture gardens, both inside and out of the gallery were wonderful ceramic and it felt nice to be out of the chaos of the real tourist areas, and into the air conditioning. All the museums on the Smithsonian are totally free, so if you have more time than I did to spare, I would advise you to definitely do as many as you can. The cafes are to die for, and the air conditioning is a God send. A must do in Washington.

After an hour or so spent admiring the paintings, I continued my walk up the Mall towards the Capitol, stopping off at the Botanical Gardens of Washington (a well kept secret) then making my way up to the main dome which was shut off to prepare for the Inauguration of the Presidential candidate who isn’t to be voted in for another month – talk about forward planning. 

'Winselowe Park, Essex'

National Art Gallery, Washington.
Botanic Gardens - gorgeous!

Awkward tourist shot no.3

Fourth and final awkward tourist shot (thank you Canadian-London couple!)

Can you believe I managed, whilst looking for the Eastern Market, to stumble upon the most beautiful used book shop? Safe to say, I attract them, even when 4860 miles away from home. I treated myself to a few books and gawped at its mismatched books.

Capitol Hill Book-Store I love you, Capitol Hill Book-Store I do!
Expect no more blogging until the beginning of next week, as I'm flying tomorrow lunch-time to Houston where I shall begin my stint with my Houston family - I am so excited to see both them and the south! Will update soon but for now, I'm exhausted. Note to self: wear better shoes to capital cities. 

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