Published: September 24th 2009September 8th 2009
After a year of world travel we have been coping with rejoining normal life, seeing the same scenery day after day and despairing the fact that in America 2 weeks holiday is a priviledge and not a right. But finally after 3 long months of working without a day off we at last are experiencing our first American paid holiday, Labor Day. Borrowed from our neighbors to the North, Labor Day is a celebration of the worker. So revelling in the fact that we now qualify to celebrate this special day we packed our bags and travelled a few hours south to America's capitol, Washington DC.
Hopping on the Metro we made our way into the city past the untouristed bits that seem the exact opposite of the white stone of the Roman-esqe Mall. We disembarked at Union Station a beauty in itself and wandered aimlessly through the streets around the Capitol Building before finding our hotel a mere 2 blocks from the station. We checked into the nicest hotel we have stayed in in a long while and promptly suckered the front desk staff into 2 free buffet breakfast vouchers. After a few plates of all you can eat
magic we checked out our room and sunk into deeply into the feather duvet before realizing we came to this city to explore not to nap until every museum was closed. Heading out on the town the game plan was to walk as much as our sleep deprived bodies would allow, see the Capitol building from every angle permitted, amble through the Library of Congress and educate ourselves on the autrocities of the Holocaust.
We happily achieved this and more with only a minimum of time contemplating the uselessness of the DC Metro system, how far a 3 mile walk actually feels on 3 hours of sleep and what type of lawn maintainence the Mall is sorely in need of (sadly a byproduct of our truly dreadful US starter jobs). Our first day concluded with a few trips to the hotel ice machine, a purchase at the local wine shop, dinner at a restaurant that gives Irish food and pubs in general a bad name and a successful England match.
The next morning truly rested from our night in feather heaven we ran our hearts out to catch the bus to Georgetown for a budget $1 per person.
Arriving in quaint Georgeotwn we found everything shut. Serves us right for being way too touristy on a Sunday morning. We wandered the streets and took in the quaint, colonial suburb. This piece of the city was originally a tobacco port town in the 18th century which over time has grown into the posh suburbs where famous socialites, such as JFK, lived. Exploring the colonial architecture we strolled the streets amidst gaslit homes, the famous and stately Georgetown University and oddly enough the steps they used in The Exorcist.
We rounded out our time in this lovely suburb with a visit to the C & O Canal (which was more like a polluted spillway than a historic site), a wander through Dean and Deluca's (an amazingly expensive grocery store) where we denied ourselves the minute $200 pot of caviar and equally expensive black truffles and ended with a visit to the oldest house in town, Old Stone House. That's right we are extremely creative here in America with our historic names. We settled into a lovely pub for lunch this time with cracking food for an affordable price before catching the air conditioned metro connection bus which lulled us
back into comfort with classical tunes. One stop on the Metro later we were at Arlington National Cemetary. Crossing the bridge over the Potomac River we were awarded fantastic views of the surrounding monuments and memorials. Finally we reached our destination, the Lincoln Memorial, where we promptly sat down for a break, a snooze (whoops!), a glimpse of President Obama (er..his helicopter) and some free samba music on the Mall.
After a nice siesta I unpeeled myself from the marble surround and we headed for the Vietnam Memorial. 58,261 names are listed on this black granite wall. Some come to remember a fallen solider, some to teach their children about this controversial time in history. We continued on to the White House and after reneging my promise of a taxi home we walked the 20 blocks back to our hotel. We rounded out the evening with an Indian (a true treat here in the USA where Indian restaurants are few and far between) and a free concert by the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn of the Capitol. The music was lovely although just as the intermission was announced the skies opened and we spent the rest of
the concert huddled underneath a tree trying to escape the worst of the downpour. A lovely experience no matter the weather.
We awoke on our final day and ventured through the National Archives for a first person glimpse of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights along with numerous other papers documenting some of the most important events in the history of America. From there we got our dose of Impressionism at the National Art Gallery before returning to the hotel and indulging in a 3 course lunch, on the house! This beautiful and free meal finished our weekend away on a high. Here's hoping they declare another national holiday soon!
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