I am endlessly enthusiastic about Washington DC. Visiting for the second time, I was able make further progress on the multitude of monuments and museums which line its expansive National Mall. Having had less than two days in the capital during our last trip to the US, Sabrina and I were determined to come back; to revisit what we had rushed through the first time, and to explore new places of interest.
We began our two days in DC (sadly only two days once again) by going to the top of the Old Post Office Pavilion, a well established landmark in the city. Though the views aren’t quite as impressive as the top of the Empire State Building in New York, it gave us a good perspective of the city. We continued on to one of the Smithsonian museums – the National Museum of American History. Whilst we struggled to pick which museums to visit (the Smithsonian consists 19 museums and galleries) we did well landing on this one. It exhibited such a great variety of stuff, from America’s automotive history, to an exhibition on the fashions of the First Ladies, to the red slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
Next, we headed towards the Capitol and the Library of Congress, which mark one end of the National Mall (The Lincoln Memorial stands at the other). Visiting the Library of Congress made a hat trick – The Boston Public Library, The New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress. I can’t recall where, but I heard something to the effect that the US built the Library of Congress to show Europe they could master grand architecture, too. I’m not sure whether or not this is true, but whatever the case, the Library of Congress gives any European gem a run for its money.
We spent the afternoon at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Although we visited last time, we weren’t able to give it the time it certainly warrants. Across multiple levels of outstandingly detailed well put together exhibitions – armed with the identity card of a victim – visitors are taken on an emotional journey through the Holocaust. Looking back on my blog from my 2012 visit to DC, I maintain that it’s the most impressive Holocaust museum I’ve visited outside of Israel.
In store for the following morning was something I had been looking forward to for the entire trip: a visit to Newseum. As its title suggests, this museum is entirely devoted to journalism and news. Last time, I had to race through the six or so levels in about an hour. This time, I made sure to allow myself plenty of time while Sabrina visited a couple of art galleries. There is SO much to see in this museum; all of it right up my alley. The history of news, interactive exhibits on new media, historical coverage of major world events, and much more. I’ve visited many museums in many cities – this is without question my favourite.
Not only was the Newseum a feast for my journalistic soul, but something else notable was taking place while I was there. I thought it odd that the place was filled with security personnel, and police cars surrounded it. I decided to ask a staff member what was going on. It turns out, President Obama was in the building, giving a talk inside one of the auditoriums. I did not actually get to see him, but he was in the same vicinity as me! The talk he was giving was being broadcast on a big screen in the foyer. It was pretty exciting.
Next, we made our way to the Lincoln Memorial. I have often been made fun of by my relatives that I left Washington DC last time without seeing it. Apparently it’s pretty key. Having learnt a bit about him during this trip, I understand why he warrants such an enormous, striking memorial. The walls surrounding his statue are inscribed with the words of his famous Gettysburg address. For my family, here is photo evidence that I was there.
Later that afternoon, we took a bus to Georgetown. It’s a delightful place. The main street has many cute shops, nice cafes and so forth, while a short walk into the streets reveals beautiful houses. The reputable Georgetown University is there, and I can see why many well-known individuals in US history chose to call it home. It had a bit of a European feel about it.
And that was basically all we had time for. Again, I’ll have to come back. There are about 15 more Smithsonian museums I’m yet to visit – and next time I’ll have to actually meet the president! The following day we were bound for North Carolina, which I can’t wait to tell you about in my next post.
P.S. yet again, no snow in DC. However, covered in snow the National Mall looked very pretty, and vastly different to the way I had seen it in summer. I only wish the freezing cold had translated to even just a tiny bit of snow..