As part of our north american trip we flew from Toronto to Washington DC, leaving from the tiny Billy Bishop airport, that you get to by going on the worlds shortest ferry ride, lasting about 15 seconds! We flew in a tiny Porter Airlines plane, the flight only lasting just over an hour. A wonderful friend that I’d met back home (Hey Megan!) picked us up from the airport and took us straight to possibly one of the most powerful places in the world, the white house. Driving through DC at night really is something else and seeing the white house lit up against the night sky looked so good! We had a double airbed and a lovely apartment waiting for us which was so appreciated! I didn’t even look at prices of hostels in the city but I can only imagine how expensive they would have been!
megan and I outside the whitehouse.
Early next morning we did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before, jumped on a hop on hop off bus! I’m usually a fan of walking or catching public transport and finding my own way round, but the cold weather and lack of research I’d done into the city made the bus tour look very attractive. A 48 hour ticket cost around $54 usd and was well worth it for the amount of places we got to see. There are four different routes each offering loads of different sights, the green route started just down the road from where we were staying, so we jumped on that one first and went to see the National Cathedral which is huge! The architecture on the outside is so intricate! The bus then drives you past the Naval Observatory which looks very official and a bit scary, then down embassy row. I love spotting all the different countries embassy’s when I go somewhere new and trying to guess which is which from the flags.
We hopped off the green route bus at the Hilton Hotel and onto the yellow route, where we headed to Georgetown. Built in the 1700’s sometime it’s full of historic buildings and notable things that happened there. It’s such a lovely area, filled with boutiques and expensive designer shop that we of course avoided, but a really nice area with loads of great cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. On the way back towards the city the bus takes you down Constitution Avenue and past the Lincoln, Einstein, WWII and Vietnam war monuments, the monuments were my favourite part of DC and I think we went to see all of them about three times! The next stop was the Monument and the White House which of course we went to see during the day as well, there were snipers on the roof and police e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, it was crazy!
blue but cold skies over georgetown.
one of the old canals that runs through georgetown.
road signs on the way out of georgetown.
the white house.
In the afternoon we took the red bus route out to Arlington Cemetery, we weren’t actually going to get off at that stop as we were worried about running out of time, but once we got there we realised it was something we just couldn’t miss. On the way to the cemetery the bus passed the rest of the monuments that we hadn’t seen yet and we got off to have a closer look at nearly all of them, the Thomas Jefferson monument is one of my favourites. The Arlington memorial bridge is pretty impressive as well. The cemetery itself is so much bigger than I imagined, it took us a while to walk through to the main reason so many people visit, to see JFK’s grave. It’s such a haunting place, there are graves as far as you can see, hundreds and thousands of soldiers headstones, it’s really quite eerie. At the top of a hill is John Kennedy’s memorial, with the eternal flame burning as well. There’s a strangely beautiful view onto the city from the cemetery which is hard to enjoy when you’re standing in such a sad place.
The bus then took us past the Pentagon, another extremely powerful place, with lots of security, we were even told not to take pictures when we pulled right up to it! The next stop is the pentagon city mall which houses a giant Macy’s, we didn’t have much time left in the day so we decided against going shopping!
We were lucky enough to have a California Tortilla a couple of minute walk from the apartment and we may have eaten there a few times during our short visit to DC ha! Mexican is my favourite kind of food and I’m always up for trying new restaurants, California Tortilla was really good, I’d rather hit up a take away place like that than somewhere like Hungry Jacks or McDonalds! After our mexican feast we went on an amazing trip to see all the monuments in the city lit up in the dark, they look amazing on a night, it was definitely my favourite part of the visit to DC! We saw the Lincoln, Jefferson, Korean War, Martin Luther King, Vietnam War, World War II and the Washington Monument, all of which looked amazing, even the buildings on Constitution Avenue look more awesome in the dark! Apparently it’s good luck to rub the Albert Einstein statue on the nose, so we clambered up on to his shoulders and gave it a go!
korean war memorial.
world war II memorial.
martin luther king memorial.
terrible quality photo of the reflecting pool and monument at night.
In DC you can pick up a lot of freebie days out through the Smithsonian Institution, funded by private companies and corporations it allows you access to a tons of museums and my personal favourite, the zoo! We visited in the morning and despite it raining on and off most of the time we were there we had a great time, there’s loads of different animals there and lots of little cafes and gift shops, I managed to restrain myself from buying a cute and cuddly stuffed animal which is impressive for me!
In the afternoon we had a serious museum session, I think we went to about half the museums that are part of the smithsonian, including: african american history and culture, african art, air and space, american art, american history, natural history and the american indian history museums, wow that’s a lot of museums! Some of them are amazing, some are a bit limited in terms of whats on offer for you to see, but there is definitely something for everyone in amongst there. Our next stop was the Capitol, unfortunately we didn’t know that you had to book in advance to be able to go inside so we did miss out on that, but just seeing the iconic building was great and we had a good walk around all the grounds. I’d definitely recommend that even if you don’t want to plan anything else on your trip to DC, at least consider this one thing, I reckon it’d be a great experience to go inside and look around! Somehow in this trip we also managed to fit in some shopping in the city centre, DC has some great shops, including a huge Forever 21, which I absolutely loved and somehow managed to spend a small fortune in, but so, so worth it! We caught the subway back towards out apartment after going to see the old post office and central train station. Which is absolutely huge and has amazing architecture on the outside, super high ceilings throughout the whole building, and they are so old school they even have shoe shine stations in there, where an actual person shines your shoes like it’s the 1950’s, amazing!
my favourite picture.
train station ceiling.
actual people still actually offering shoe shining.
old post office building.
On our last night Megan took us down to the Dupont area where there are some great bars, I wish I could remember where we went that night but I really can’t! What I do remember is that is was pricey and played brilliant music, they also had security all over the place, even at the toilets, I guess you can’t be too careful when in the capitol of the most powerful country in the world. Unfortunately for us we had to drag ourselves out of bed relatively early the next day to go and collect our rental car, although that did mean one great thing, new adventure!