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eirekay Washington - A travel report by Eire
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Washington,  United States - flag United States -  District of Columbia
5286 readers

eirekay's travel reports

A Week in Washington D.C.

  31 votes
Page: 1 2
A trip through Washington D.C. is a journey to the past, but also a look into the future. The Smithsonian, Holocaust Memorial, National Archives and opportunities to travel back in time to the fort of the original 1620 settlers are all close by.

Williamsburg - Colonial SUV
Williamsburg - Colonial SUV
What makes Washington D.C. an easy trip is that most of the sites are located on or near Capital Mall, a 3 block wide strip running from 3rd St to 14th St. Evidence of 9/11 security is everywhere - concrete barricades and metal detectors abound, but the city is still an amazing portal. The sorriest of these restrictions is limited access to the White House. Tours can only be taken by groups with arrangements made through a Congressional or Senate office several months in advance. Tickets to the Capital Rotunda and Senate and Congressional viewing Galleries also need to be arranged through those offices, although you need not be with a group. Our starting point was the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian Museum complex encompasses 15 museums, all admission free. 14 of those are on or near Capital Mall. First up-Air & Space. WOW! Apollo Space Modules. Lunar Landers. Space Shuttles. Moon Rocks. Seven hours and not a moment of boredom. Next, the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Louisiana Purchase and a number of Supreme Court decisions that helped form the US. That evening we drove two hours to Williamsburg, a restored colonial town with working 18th century trade shops. After a day in Williamsburg, we took in Jamestown, the 1620 settlement, with Pocohontas’ tribal village and replicates of the original three boats that carried the settlers from England, and Yorktown, with its’ restored revolutionary war encampments. The “Historical Interpreters”, guides in costume in all three locations, have a wonderful sense of humor while providing information. To the comment “The beds are tiny in the crew hull.”, “Aye, and me bunk mate’s not bathed in two months.” Another: “What if you didn’t have your own armor?”, “Won’t be long – some one will be dyin’ ‘fore too long.” Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, was our next stop. Fascinating for its architecture and furnishings, the farm and trades buildings are equally wonderful to tour. **Continued**

Favourite spots:
Museum of Natural History-Matsadon
Museum of Natural History-Matsadon
The afternoon was spent at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation. A crafts area invites you to make an 18th century bucket or spin and weave wool. The gardens a beautiful but if we had to choose, Monticello was more impressive.
Back in DC, and the Smithsonian, we took in the Natural History Museum. Another WOW! Triceratop, T-Rex, Stegosaurs and a massive collection of minerials, fossils and gemstones. A brisk walk up the street to see our Congresswoman, who timed the visit so we could watch her vote from the Congressional Gallery an hour later. Then off to a bus twlight tour of the Monuments (see below).Next day, another Smithsonian. American History Museum focuses as much on culture and invention as it does on traditional history. Here are Dorothy's Ruby Slippers, artifacts from Sienfeld, the First Ladies Ball Gowns and Abe Lincoln's hat. Best though are Thomas Edison's notes on creating the lightbulb and Ford's first autos. A working lab (sign-up early) allows you strand DNA.

What's really great:
World World II Memorial
World World II Memorial
The Monuments are most impressive lit at night. The Twilight Monument Tour (book at Union Station) is 4 hours and takes in all the biggies. The FDR (Roosevelt) Memorial, completed in '97, has a terrific bronze sculpture of depression era folks, waterfalls and a WWII display. Greatest Moment? My son (10) ran up the Lincoln Monument stairs, eager to find the step that Martin Luther King stood on while giving his "I have a dream speech" (it is marked). He said he could envision what it would have looked like because he had seen the films so many times. From here we could see the Washington Monument lit and beautifully mirrored in the reflecting pool. Other Surprises? I was touched by how moving the Korean Memorial is. It depicts men hiking through a rice field in the rain. The Vietnam Memorial is equally moving. The new World War II Memorial has a computer station which allows you to find WWII Vets from a database.
You can go up to the top of the Washington Monument - get tickets at 8am

Smithsonian Castle
Smithsonian Castle
The Holocaust Museum with its' understated display of shoes and boots of Holocaust victims.
Hirschborn Museum and Sculpture Garden (another Smithsonian) combines modern art with a sculpture garden. The garden is a great photo op with a broad collection, set in natural surroundings!
Smithsonian Castle itself has terrific gardens and great architecture. A tour of the buildings is well worth the time.
The walk down Capital Mall with the White House and Washington Monument on one end and the Capitol Buildings on the other.
The Federal Reserve and US Mint

On the steps of the Jefferson Memorial
On the steps of the Jefferson Memorial
Arlington, VA. offers much less expensive hotel rooms. We stayed at a Quality Inn near a subway station. The ride into DC took 15 minutes max, at half the price of the same room near Capital Mall. It also placed us near the Pentagon and next to Arlington Cemetary with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In Williamsburg, the Best Western Patrick Henry is located right across the street from the Historical Park, offers an expanded continental breakfast and has a terrific pool (great after a long day walking!). Yorktown and Jamestown are just right down the road, and Monticello is an hour and 1/2 north, so this proved to be a very central location.

Shields Tavern in Williamsburg
Shields Tavern in Williamsburg
One of the highlites of our trip was dinner at Shield's Tavern in Williamsburg. The servers are all in period costume. Dinner is served in 18th century style, off shared brochettes with no choice of menu, strolling muscians play period songs and Mr. Shield's will inquire as to your health. "So where you be from?" "California." "Aye, I have heard tale of such a place, but I don't believe it. 'Tis nothing west of here but mountains and savages."

There are Pancake Houses all over Virginia. We finally succumbed and stop at David's House of Pancakes midway between Monticello and Mount Vernon for lunch. Light Fluffy Pancakes and in so many varieties that it was almost impossible to choose! No wonder they are so popular!

Another can't miss - grab a polish dog and a bag of chips at any of the many corner stands on the Mall and sit on the lawn, looking up at the Washington Monument!

Other recommendations:
Shuttle Enterprise
Shuttle Enterprise
Yet another Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Steven Udvar-Hazy Center, sits out by Dulles Airport. It houses a collection of space and aircraft equal to its sister museum on Capital Mall and is well worth the trip. We made this our last stop before flying home. It includes a restored shuttle, the Enterprise, along with a number of missiles and vintage planes.

Published on Saturday July 23th, 2005

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Fri, Jan 26 2007 - 09:11 PM rating by mrscanada

I was happy to read that you went to the Holocaust Museum while you were here.

Sat, Oct 29 2005 - 04:37 PM rating by toribio


Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 04:56 AM rating by miguelmarchi

I think this is the best report in globo!
(Well, after your Tikal!)

Sat, Aug 06 2005 - 12:37 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Marvellous report!

Wed, Aug 03 2005 - 08:28 AM rating by britman

Congratulations on a superbly interesting brought back loads of memories. Well worth 5 *****

Mon, Aug 01 2005 - 05:26 AM rating by magsalex

Comprehensive and informative

Sun, Jul 31 2005 - 08:54 PM rating by gloriajames

thanks for a wonderful report!

Thu, Jul 28 2005 - 03:45 PM rating by hieronyma

It makes mwe breathless only to read your article.

Thu, Jul 28 2005 - 09:39 AM rating by picasso

Great report with a tons of information,a pleasure to read.


Mon, Jul 25 2005 - 11:10 PM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report

Sun, Jul 24 2005 - 02:21 AM rating by davidx

This is a city I'd love to see - not less for reading this really great report.

Sat, Jul 23 2005 - 11:32 PM rating by marianne

Hi Eire,
Such a beautifully written report, very informative. It is a place I would like to visit but armchair reading is my only option at the moment. Lovely photos especially the colonial suv.


Sat, Jul 23 2005 - 05:26 PM rating by rangutan

A place i'd like to see just like the report discribes, particularly the "Smithsonian".

Sat, Jul 23 2005 - 03:17 PM rating by mistybleu

Hey Eire,

this is another lovely, informative report.


Sat, Jul 23 2005 - 11:51 AM rating by bineba

Hi Eire,

really loved your report. sounds like you guys ahd a fantastic time.


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