Washington, home of the American president.
We were staying at the State Plaza and had a kitchen and dressing room in our suite on the 7th floor. No breakfast though so we set out to find some.
The White House was about 10 minutes walk so we went there first.
As it was still early there weren’t many people about so we had a good unrestricted view of the iconic scene. It looked lovely in the sunshine and manicured gardens.
The quest for breakfast continued as we passed no end of closed coffee shops. It was Sunday, and a city that works Monday to Friday, so we were getting hungry until we asked a policemen and he pointed us in the direction of a tucked away Starbucks.
The Mall is huge, both in width and length, ringed with museums for every taste. As we were only here for a day we chose two.
But first the Capitol building, dominating the east end of the Mall and next to one of two reflecting pools. There wasn’t much reflecting going on as firstly it was a bit windy and the water was moving too much and secondly there was absolutely nowhere to sit if you did indeed want to reflect on anything.
A group of Bolivian dancers were getting ready to perform, braiding hair and donning brightly coloured clothing and headgear, but we didn’t see them perform by the time we’d looked at the Capitol and walked round the pool.
The Capitol is impressive, in white marble and stepped in front with a white domed tower. Unfortunately they weren’t allowing anyone up the steps.
The first museum we came to as we set off down the Mall was the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, one of our choices.
The museum has a large round atrium going the full height of the building, four floors, with three reconstructed canoes at the base.
We went up to the fourth floor and made our way down through all the exhibitions ranging from the early years, when the settlers arrived, right up to modern day and where they are now.
It covered Indians from North, Central and South America.
There were plenty of examples of clothing, implements and weaponry.
We had lunch here too, fry bread with cinammon and honey, and chili soup.
The Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space, our other choice, is next door.
This houses the history of flight ending in space.
There are interactive games and scientific experiments, flight simulations and a visit to a modern cockpit alongside the first ballon to circumnavigate the Earth and moon-landing craft.
All the museums are free and open all year round, seven days a week, except for Christmas Day.
The obelisk-shaped Monument, commemorating George Washington, graces the opposite end of the Mall but was covered in scaffolding, like a number of the other buildings.
It faces the Capitol to the east and the White House to the north.
To the south is the Tidal Basin, an enclosed body of water with an outlet to the Potomac. Here you can hire a pedalo, but today they were fighting the wind.
It was blowing strongly as we walked round to the Thomas Jefferson memorial.
This building is large, round and white and dominates the basin. It’s an attractive building that draws the eye.
Further round is a memorial to Franklin D Roosevelt.
At first glance it’s just a wall, but then it opens out into a series of water features, or would have been if there had been any water. We guessed, due to signs saying no wading and coins ruin the fountains! Quotes of Roosevelt’s were chiseled into the walls.
Next in line was Martin Luther King, unfortunately also shrouded in scaffolding, but the main statue of the man was clear and proud in white marble.
Again, his quotes were resplendent on the surrounding walls.
There was a memorial to the soldiers who had died in the Korean War, but we didn’t visit. From what we could see it was a number of statues of soldiers in combat gear standing in grass.
After a brief cooling down break, that featured iced tea and ice cream, we visited the Lincoln memorial, the largest of them all.
Raised up on steps, in white marble and surrounded by Doric columns, the memorial is very impressive. It reminded me of a Greek temple.
The statue of Lincoln is inside and you have to climb the steps and go inside to see it.
It looks out over a second reflection pool all the way back to the Monument and beyond, in the distance, to the Capitol. The White House can’t be seen from anywhere except right in front of it.
It was decision time. Did we walk the five blocks back to the hotel or a further mile across the bridge over the Potomac into Virginia to visit the National Cemetary at Arlington?
The cemetary won out, so we hauled our weary limbs a bit further.
Straight off the bridge is a wide, neat road and at the end was a large wall, but we didn’t have to go that far. The entrance came up on the left into a large airy building with a shop and information. Continuing through the building comes out in the cemetary.
Lines upon lines, in field after field, of white regular headstones. A sobering sight.
We walked to the grave of John F Kennedy which was on a little hill all by itself. With the grave of Jaqueline Onassis alongside, an eternal flame burned. We would have liked to have visited the tomb of the Unknown Soldier but by then our feet were protesting loudly and we considered catching the Metro back, but we had one more place to visit.
Back across the river we went round the back of the Lincoln memorial, past where the Vietnam memorial is planned for, and on to the Albert Einstein memorial. It is a large cast bronze statue, reclining against some steps, with a shiny nose where peole have rubbed it for good luck.
It seemed a long way back to the hotel, but it was only a few blocks, and we were glad to see it as we’d walked quite a number of miles in very hot weather.
Dinner was in a nearby restaurant and afterwards we walked back down to the White House to take photos of it lit up. It was not to be. We could walk round the sides, but when we got to the place we’d been earlier in the day the police were moving everyone further away. We could only assume he was home.