Washington DC

Our couple of days in Washington DC were, for me, an unexpected highlight of the trip. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon by bus from New York. Instantly the city struck me as incredibly well organised. The museums are for the most part set out in logical rows, while the monuments and memorials are all grouped together in a way that makes them easily accessible to tourists like us.

The first thing we did was to visit what is perhaps the most famous of the Smithsonian museums – the Air and Space Museum. While these are not specific areas of interest to me, the museum is a must see if you’re in Washington DC.

A model of the first plane flown by the Wright brothers

We spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering down the National Mall, which is a green space stretching a couple of miles from Capitol Hill to the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way you have the World War II memorial, as well as things like a Korean War Memorial and a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Right in the middle is the impossible-to-miss Washington monument, which soars into the sky. We also found our way to the White House.

The Washington Monument

The reflecting pool at the World War II Memorial

The White House – I don’t think the President was there at the time

We started the following day at Capitol Hill, the highlight of which was the Library of Congress. The baroque interior is reminiscent of buildings I’ve seen in Europe; it’s simply awe-inspiring. Sabrina and I particularly enjoyed a special exhibition on the books that shaped America. We continued with the library theme with the Folger Shakespeare Library, which houses the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Oh the advantages of traveling with a fellow literary nerd…

The Capitol

Inside the Library of Congress

The next stop was an important one; the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Outside of Israel, it was easily the best holocaust museum I’ve seen. Perhaps ‘best’ isn’t quite the right word, but the exhibitions were brilliantly put together and utterly thought-provoking. At the beginning of our visit, we were each given an identity card of a single holocaust victim, whose fate was gradually revealed along the way.

I had been told by a couple of people about the ‘Newseum’ in Washington DC, which I was very keen to check out. It’s a museum all about journalism and the media – obviously it suited me down to the ground. It was fantastic; it documented coverage of major events in history, and there was lots of interactive stuff relating to the new age of media. Plus heaps more. I could have spent a whole day there.

An exhibition at Newseum dedicated to September 11

In fact, I could have spent longer in Washington DC. The Smithsonian Institution itself encompasses 19 museums! I’ll have to go back one day and visit some more of them. But I definitely got a great taste of the United States’ capital city.

The next morning we were headed to Orlando for some non-intellectual theme park fun. Stay tuned.

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