Published: August 16th 2009August 14th 2009
Raleigh to Washington D.C. - 30°c
We managed to have a bit of a lie in (comparatively speaking!) this morning since we didn’t have to check out and leave until 8:45am. In a way it was a nice to be checking out, safe in the knowledge that we’d be checking in to tonight’s hotel accommodation for 3 consecutive nights, rather than the 4 single nights one after the other we’d had in 4 different places. It’s been difficult knowing how much to take out of our suitcases since 12 hours later we’ve had to pack everything back up again and leave.
Once we were on the road and on our way to Washington D.C. near enough everybody had dozed off. I think we’ve all been getting used to catching up on sleep whilst on board the coach. And with all the late nights and early mornings, it’s made the need for sleep whenever we get the chance even greater.
On our way to Washington D.C. we called off in Richmond, Virginia for just over an hour-long lunch stop. Joey and I walked along the high street for a while, before settling on lunch at McDonalds with several others. After finishing lunch, Joey and I headed across to the pharmacy for me to pick up some medication, since the cold and sore throat symptoms I’ve been suffering with for a while don’t seem to be going anywhere fast and only seem to be worsening. After some advice from the pharmacist, I picked up some stronger medication that will hopefully start to make a noticeable impact and get me on the road to recovery.
Back on the coach we had another 2 hour drive until we reached Washington D.C. As we got closer, the traffic started to get really heavy and we were held up in some traffic jams for a while, but eventually we got into the city. Jerry drove us around for a while to show us some of the sights from the coach, but after a while we headed back out the other side of the city after passing through it, to our hotel in nearby Cheverly. We had just about an hour to freshen up and get ready for our included dinner at the Italian restaurant next to the hotel. As I walked into the hotel room I suddenly realised that after 23 days of travelling with everyone, this was the last hotel we would all be checking into together, with everyone going their separate ways once we arrive in New York. And even though I’ve now gotten used to having a big room with 2 double beds meant for 4 people to myself the past 10 days or so since Scott (my roomie!) left us back in New Orleans, I’ve been feeling as though I’ve missed out on a large part of the Contiki experience, which is about getting to know people from around the world and sharing our lives together for the duration of the trip, just as much as the sights and sounds from the trip itself.
We headed to dinner at 5:15pm, and with 50 of us, managed to take over half of the fairly small Italian restaurant (as we’ve been doing nearly everywhere we’ve been going en masse!). The Italian buffet was good, and we all filled up as much as we could, but after the several buffets we’ve had of late, the novelty of an ‘all you can eat’ has kind of lost it’s initial impact!
After dinner, aside from a very few, we all got back on the coach and headed out for our nighttime tour of Washington D.C. The first stop was the Capitol Building, which was nothing short of magnificent. The size and scale of the building was very impressive and with the sun still shining and bright blue sky to match, we managed to get some great photos of it and with us all in front of it too.
Back on the coach our next stop was the World War II memorial, which was very poignant. 50 large marble blocks (one for each U.S. state) stood next to one another in a circle formation around a giant fountain, with giant cast iron wreaths attached to each of them. The sun had just begun to set around then and made the fountain look beautiful in front of the pink colour sky. Also from the memorial, we were able to get a good view of the Washington monument too, which stood proud, towering above everything.
It wasn’t too much of a drive until we reached the Jefferson memorial, which once again was very impressive. From the outside it looked almost like a roman coliseum with pillars holding up a giant domed roof. Inside was a giant statue of Thomas Jefferson and many quotes etched into the marble walls surrounding the statue. Once again everything looked beautiful backlit with the setting sun and the spotlights that shone both up and down the building.
Our next stop was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial, which was quite different from the others we’d so far seen. It was an open, entirely flat area, supposedly in reference to his disabilities and the desires of those that built the memorial to make it as disabled friendly as possible. Marble walls with flowing waterfalls falling down them surrounded and divided the memorial, each one once again etched with famous quotes. It was a really nice place, and the iron statue of FDR and his dog was adorable.
Our last stop on the tour was at the Lincoln memorial. By the time we got there the sun had completely set and it was pitch black, which made the memorial stand out very prominently owing to the strong spotlights shining upon it. From the ground, between the pillars at the top of the stairs we could just make out a rather large backlit statue, and upon climbing up the stairs and reaching the top, an enormous statue of President Lincoln greeted us. To say it was impressive would be a great understatement. It was by far and large the most impressive memorial of the night and the statue of Lincoln looked absolutely luminous. It was extremely busy, but I managed to capture some shots of the memorial from the ground looking up and from the top looking down. From the top of the memorial the view of the illuminated Washington monument reflecting in the ‘Reflection pool’ was fantastic, and the pool acted as a massive mirror that fitted the entire height of the monument in the pool’s width and length.
A quick look around the nearby Korean war memorial which we couldn’t really see since it wasn’t very well lit in the dark, and it was time to head back to the coach and then onwards to our hotel around 10:15pm. And with not a lot going on in the area around the hotel, I headed back to my room to chill out and head to bed.