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Washington DC

The most powerful capital on Earth? Quite possibly. I’d wager that it has the largest number of square metres devoted to monuments, at least. It’s a treat!

After spending a week in San Francisco, switching from conference to chilling (another post from that part might still come), we had scheduled a couple of days in DC. Yay us.

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What’s a visit to the States without a visit to MacDonalds? Yay for Angus Burger! This was pretty decent; however, if you want a proper fastfood chain-store burger, you should go to Johnny Rocket instead and get the cheddar and bacon burger. Mmmmmmmmm.

Since “a couple” translates exactly to “two”, we didn’t have much time. You can easily spend a week in DC. At least if you enjoy buildings, museums and monuments. We prioritized the most important of these, meaning we spent a lot of time around the Washington Monument and on The Mall.

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Capitol - the most fancy pile of stone in DC. Despite radiating power, its West Front faces a very down to earth park which was nice to stroll around in.

That’s the handy thing about DC - it is really not very large, having a population of just 600.000 people (which swells quite a bit when people commute into town to work), it’s easy to navigate on foot (most east/west streets have a letter, whereas north/south streets have a number) and a ton of attractions are within a few kilometres of each other in the area around the Washington Monument.

The museums we visited were The American History Museum and the National Air and Space Museum. The former has a special viewing gallery where you can see the huge US flag which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the US national anthem. Your reaction might be “well, so what, it’s just a flag” - well, it’s about 10 x 10 metres large, almost 200 years old, was flown during a pivotal battle of the US-British war of 1812 and was then seen by Key, who was held on a British warship. It’s pretty darn epic (as some here might say).

When visiting the Flag Gallery and the Lincoln Memorial, in particular, I felt the same sense of sanctity that I’ve felt in impressive churces (like St. Peter’s Cathedral) earlier. It seems to me that a lot of the “holiness” reserved for religion in other places is infused in the symbols of freedom, democracy and justice in the US. I like it. I won’t include my photo of the Lincoln Monument, because that visit was a touching experience for me. Who knows, it might be for you too, and I’d hate to spoil it. “Four score and seven years ago...” Sweet and short, indeed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address for those who need to brush up on their American history.)

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At the American History Museum, you can be president and read speeces from a teleprompter. I fell naturally into the role (but wished I’d worn something more formal than my Counting Sheep t-shirt. By the way, Americans in general react very favourably to Threadless t-shirts).

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Air and Space Museum. The X-15 has the world speed record - 6.7 times the speed of sound. I knew all about this when I was 13, so seeing the actual plane was... awesome.

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The FDR memorial is different - this is the biggest individual piece. There are lots of other statues and plenty of waterfalls; it’s really more of a big park. And very nice.

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We hung out on the bridge at the southern end of Tidal Basin for a while, watching planes on final approach to Reagan Airport. A new airplane every minute. I have a suppressed planespotter in me.

Lots to see, lots to do - I’m really glad we included DC on the itinerary.

Comments

Tor,  30.09.10 10:10

I seem to remember from my previous visit to MacDonald's (which was in Bergen in 2001, if I'm not mistaken) that their burgers are small and taste crappy. Also, I understand the idea is that a MacDonald's burger should taste the same no matter where you buy it, so in principle you should be guaranteed a crappy experience whenever you go there. Or have they changed their policy lately?

I wonder what would happen if Obama started giving presidential addresses in sheep t-shirts. I may be wondering this because I have not had coffee yet.

At any rate. I like the FDR park picture. And I now realise why Americans have such trouble finding the statue of Greyfriar's Bobby in Edinburgh. It is of the same type of dog (I think, but ours is about 20 cm tall). And I want a statue that big of me in a coat like that at some point.

And I understand the impact of seeing that particular flag. But I it seems odd to claim that

the “holiness” reserved for religion in other places is infused in the symbols of freedom, democracy and justice in the US

--they do after all have quite enough religion.

Also, I just noticed that I've been spelling McDonald's with an a too much. Can you forgive me, Tim?
Tor,  06.11.11 22:44

I'm guessing this is the Air and Space Museum in DC? We went to the one in Virginia today, where they keep Enterprise and a Blackbird, but now we sort of feel like going to this one as well.
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Last edited by
Are, 30.09.10 06:44