Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2015

Central Washington, both familiar and new

As with much of the coming week and the following week, Bruce was due to be working while I was free to get on with some serious sightseeing. He was up at the crack of dawn this morning, knowing that he had a lot to do and was currently unable to make progress due to technical problems. I had a nice breakfast at the Corner Bakery Café on 14th Street and was ready to get on my way by 9:15.

Pershing Park and Pennsylvania Avenue

I began by heading out and across the road into Pershing Park, and then along Pennsylvania Avenue in the direction of the US Capitol. I passed the FBI Building and one block later, the impressive National Archives Building on my right faced the US Navy Memorial Plaza on my side of the street. It was already a very pleasant day, weather-wise.

The 'Newseum'

After walking another two blocks, I arrived at what promised to be my morning highlight: the Newseum, a great recommendation from Bruce and a new discovery for me. Opened in 2008 in this prestigious location, this was an interactive museum of news and journalism, celebrating the press freedom measures included in the First Amendment. One of very few museums in Washington charging an entry fee, this one - according to many - was really worth it. The building contained some hugely interesting displays of the news coverage given to some key events in recent history, including the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin Wall (making a nice connection with the initial part of this trip), and most poignantly of all, the events of 9/11.

The building also featured the Greenspun Terrace, offering some fine views of Pennsylvania Avenue. Bruce's estimate of a 2hr visit turned out to be accurate to within five minutes, which I though was pretty impressive.

The US Capitol and Union Station

I then continued past the Newseum's next-door neighbour, the Canadian Embassy, and on towards the US Capitol, the dome of which was covered in scaffolding as part of a lengthy restoration project. After a quick look around the outside, taking in the view down the National Mall, I walked the relatively short distance to Union Station. This made a perfect lunch stop, yet I didn't think it was looking as impressive internally as on the occasion of my one previous visit, when in the relative darkness of winter, internal lighting had contributed to the overall effect. In any event, I was glad to sit down for a while and enjoy a satisfying toasted-sandwich lunch.

National Mall

When I re-emerged into the daylight, it felt like a glorious summer's day - in November! I returned to the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol and then walked along the National Mall towards the Washington Monument. Parts of the Mall weren't looking their best, as large areas of grass had been dug up for improvement works. A very noticeable feature was that all flags were flying at half-mast, to show solidarity with France in the aftermath of the 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris.

Washington Monument, World War II Memorial and the White House

The impact of the lowered flags was that much greater at the Washington Monument, which is completely surrounded by Stars and Stripes. I first visited this huge obelisk dedicated to the first president of the United States in 1987, and that was the only occasion on which I had made the ascent to the viewing gallery near the top of the largely dry-stone structure. I then continued as far as the World War II memorial, but had neither the time nor the energy to visit the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. I turned instead towards the White House and the Willard, arriving just after 3pm. It was good to find out that, with a little help from the hotel, Bruce's IT problems had long since been solved.


We checked out of the Willard at 4pm, but despite taking the quick and direct metro route from Archives station to Huntington, the transfer to our new hotel took all of two hours. This was because the shuttle from the metro station to the Marriott Springhill Suites was actually operated by our hotel's next-door neighbour, the Holiday Inn Express. Even when we called for the first time to ask about the shuttle's non-appearance (or so we thought), nobody at the Marriott thought it worth mentioning that we should be looking for a HIX van, rather than a Marriot one!

While clearly in no way comparable to the Willard, our new accommodation was actually reasonably pleasant. In due course we walked to a nearby Mexican restaurant, where we both had a Margarita plus a large, main course-sized bowl of chicken soup - very nice!

I got to bed as quickly as possible on our return to our new base, in full knowledge of the early start that I would need to make the next day.

Monday Nov 16

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