Washington DC is the place we decided to go on a Memorial Day weekend.
DC stands for District of Columbia, just in case some of you didn’t know. Washington in one of the busiest tourist destination . A must see place in the foreign travelers list. This season of the year is the best time for travelers from around the world.
We stayed at Falls church , Virginia.This place is 1 mile from east falls church metro station. But due to some maintenance work the station was closed . We chose to take taxi to the nearby Ballston metro station . Costs around $10-12. Ballston metro station for now was the beginning of the orange line .There were free shuttles from Ballston upto Veinna Metro stations.Free service provided due to the maintenance work.I am not sure if its a good idea to rent a car for site seeing in DC .Parking might be an issue. Most of the tourists prefer Metro and Local buses.
The ticketing system for Metro is complicated. A first timer sure needs help. There were metro officials helping people with tickets .We were quite confused with all the available options.With no second thought we took a round trip ticket to downtown.The downtown round trip ticket costs you $6.20 per person.
The first place to hop off the metro was Smithsonian station. This station is the the entrance to the National mall. National mall isn’t a shopping place.It is an open area where you get to see most of the attractions of DC. National Mall alone needs two days of time to see everything around . Weather you have a car or not you have lot of walking to do . So be prepared.
We started of by walking towards Lincoln memorial. The first thing you see while walking towards Lincoln Memorial is the Washington Monument. Washington Monument is a tall,four sided narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid like shape at the top.This Pyramid like shape at the top represents the descending rays of the sun. It was built to commemorate George Washington, The first American President.Currently the Washington Monument is under renovation . It was damaged during earthquake . Hence tourists were not allowed to get closer to the Monument.
Walk past the Monument, there is the National World War II memorial .It is a national memorial dedicated to Americans who served in armed forces and as civilians during world war II.It has 56 pillars with names of the states engraved. There is a plaza and Fountain area at the center. Sit back and relax in peace to honor the sacrifices made during world war II.
Further down after National War II memorial is the reflection pool. At the east end of the reflection pool is the Lincoln memorial. The view from Lincoln memorial towards Washington monument is the one to capture.Ideally one can see the Washington Monument reflection in the pool. Water in the pool wasn’t clear and still .There were lot of ducks and ducklings in the pool too. Hence Monument was not reflecting in the pool.
Harley Davidson bikers association had gathered at Lincoln memorial to pay respects on the Memorial Day . I always wondered why is that most of the bikers are old aged men and women. Old age meaning in their late 50 to 55. May not be 60 years old. The place was crowded with tourist and bikers . It was really long time I had seen such crowd after coming back from Bangalore.
With not must choice for lunch , We quickly grabbed sandwich from the cafe nearby. There was no other eatery there. We started walking back along the reflection pool. We took a diversion from the Washington monument towards the White House.Nobody is allowed closer to the White House . One can see it only from a far distance. I am guessing the distance is around 1 mile from the
main road.White House tours were closed after Boston Marathon supposedly.Also White house tour has to be booked in advance. I am not sure what the requirements are, if any.
From The White house, we walked to American History Museum. There are many huge old government buildings on this street. This museum is close to The Federal Triangle metro station .By the time we covered half the museum , we were tired and dragging our feet. Museum was not informative or interesting any more. Hence we had some refreshments at the cafe and gave some rest to the feet. The next museum in line was the Natural History museum. We were in no mood for another Museum. Hence we walked into The National Gallery of Art Sculptor garden.There are 2 sculptures that attracts attention. One is the tree without leaves made in steel. Other is the
three dimensional House. 3D house does not look interesting in picture. As you walk around 180 degree you can see different views of the house.
We walked to The Capitol house next. The Capitol house is at the west end of the Washington Monument from Smithsonian station. The U.S Capitol house is the meeting place of the US Congress.Tours of U.S Capitol are open from Monday through Saturday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. You have to book the tour in advance.Specially during holidays. We had not booked and hence no tour
of the U.S Capitol.We could only see the external Architecture of the building.
All the Museums close by 5.30 pm. Plan accordingly. Since National Air and Space Museum and Hishhorn Museum were closed by 5.30 pm, We walked into Hishhorn Sculptor garden. Though it was bright and sunny, Cold wind was draining us. We walked past the Smithsonian Castle. Castle also closes by 5.30 pm.
We were tired walking all day. Hence we returned to the hotel by 8.30 pm and crashed.
Day 2 was no less walking. We decided to visit some happening places around. Dupont Cirlce is the place we were headed next. Right at the Dupont circle metro station there was farmer’s market. Mostly Organic stuff and obviously expensive because of the locality.It was nice to see stalls with fresh veggies,home made cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs, meat, bread and flowers. We walked past the Farmer’s market towards The National Zoo. National zoo is approximately 1.5 miles away from Dupont circle. Walk from Dupoint circle to National zoo is a exquisite. Beautiful expensive apartment complexes and buildings.Streets lined with trees and flowers.
National Zoo is a disappointment. We could only see Black bear and Elephants in Asian trail.Since it was very crowded and we could hardly see any Zoo animals, we got bored and tired. We decided to move on to The National Cathedral. We realized it wasn’t any closer. We walked around 1.5 miles again to reach Cathedral.
The National Cathedral is the 2nd largest Cathedral in the US and 4th tallest building in Washington DC. By the way there are no high raise buildings in Washington DC. Google to find out why. The National Cathedral is really huge, built in Gothic style.It is also called National House of Prayers.
Time for some early dinner. We took a taxi to Adams Morgan street. En-route you get see the Embassy’s on either sides of the street.Adams Morgan is a culturally diverse eat-out place with many bars and restaurants. Indian,Ethiopian,Italian, Hispanic and many other cuisines you get to taste here.Lot of Hookah places around. This is majorly a Hispanic Community.
we returned back to hotel with soaring feet’s.
On Day 3 Washington seemed boring.But as a traveler its good to experience all types of places.Day 3 was the Memorial day. Hence we decided to goto Arlington National Cemetery .The presence of secret service amongst tight security and airplanes hovering in the sky, we knew it was The President arriving at the venue. People around were waiting so we could see The President and the First Lady. Hard Luck. They just passed by. We could see Michelle wave at the crowd from inside tainted glass window of the car.
Arlington National Cemetery is the US military Cemetery.624 acres of burial land. This is a burial ground of people from Civil war, Korean war, Vietnam war and many other veterans and unknown soldiers.People come here to honor and pay their respects on the Memorial day. We spent lot of time waiting for The President. All we could see was The First Lady’s Waving hand.
We had to board our flight by 5.30 pm. After lunch at Pentagon City we said good bye to Washington DC.
Plan your travel to DC well in advance. The tours to be booked, Time you want to spend at the Museums and Hangout places.Else it might turn out to be tiring trip walking/driving around the city.