Wandering around Washington 2011

Posted: May 15, 2012 in Travel

NYC is the city that never sleeps that you immerse yourself in and its hustle and bustle to fully appreciate it. Washington is like Canberra on steroids – beautifully laid out and it is fine just to sit back and take in the wondrous monuments and structures. The beauty of the often ridiculed patriotism of Americans is that they are so proud of their history and achievements that they want to show it to the world and let them rejoice along with them. England feels like their heritage is their god given right and if you want to see it , it is going to cost you especially if you want to park near by! So, when reminiscing about Washington your mind does return to the numerous monuments and museums. The iconic structures of New York are invariably displayed in La La land as singular, easily recognisable iconic structures. For Washington it is more often the rather stunning vista that runs from The Capitol through the Washington Monument and up to Old Abe himself. Like all iconic structures these dominate the skyline and are easily recognisable but it would be difficult to imagine a more impressive couple of kilometers of national heritage anywhere in the world. And the real beauty of all this is that is that it is an easy walk and you can even throw in The White House and Jefferson Memorial and still be home in time for a Budweiser and a hot dog on the back porch as the sun sets. So the highlights are the obvious ones naturally and the other amazing aspect of them in this land known for its excesses is their wonderfully understated and reverential presentation, never more ably demonstrated then our first stop on the tour

1. Iwo Jima Memorial/Arlington

The Memorial is simply stunning, set as it is in a nondesript field, it dominates the scene. We were very lucky to arrive just before a busload of tourists and so were virtually by ourselves which added considerably to the solemn nature of the scene. As mentioned in other ramblings I need to come back to these places without a camera so as to simply let them wash over you. Arlington is similarly solemn and equally impressive. While drawn to the JFK grave site the simplicity of the RFK site was strikingly effective.

2. Jefferson Memorial

Another stunningly simple monument that is both amazing up close or from afar. The glimpse of the statue through the columns from across the water is mesmerizing. This one is a bit removed from the central avenue of monuments but well worth the walk and then continue around the lake and shake hands with FDR.

3. The Capitol

We walked up to and around this one every day as we were staying in the general area – highly recommended, quiet and very safe. However we only did the tour on the last morning and trust me you need to line up early. However, as majestic and dominating as the building is from the outside its true magic lies on the inside. Ceilings that would do Michaelangelo proud dominate many rooms but history beckons at every turn.

4. The Washington Monument

Separates The Capitol from the Lincoln Memorial and can be seen from anywhere in Washington. If you plan on getting to the top try booking tickets 6 months in advance otherwise you have no chance. Once again simple it its elegance it is strikingly effective. From its vantage point even on the ground you look to the right for your first glimpse of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave

5. The Lincoln Memorial

These monuments in Washington are easily accessible but there are a couple of rules. You dont go up and sit on Abe’s lap for instance. They have a chain across the front of the statue – and if that is not enough there are plenty of signs. Wondered why they had a couple of guards around. Sure enough after only a few minutes some idiot jumps the chain for a better photo. Frog marched out quick smart

6 The White House

Final stop on the pilgrimmage and rather fitting that it is the seat of power in the good old USA. You are not going to get close to it but once again this is not a problem. Any thoughts of a tour better be organised with the Red Wranger about 6 months before leaving Aussie Land.

So another 6 of the best that are rather obvious but not to be missed. In between these there is so much else to see including the Smithsonian series of museums, memorable memorials like Vietnam and Korea, Library of Congress and the Pentagon. Too much for individual photos – cue slideshow please

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  1. Lagos says:

    Wow you really covered ground there.

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