usa washington dc - backpacking around the world in 333 days
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around the world in 333 days

REPORT 26 - Jan. 2001

USA - Washington DC

Washington DC, a city purpose built to govern the world's most powerful country, is a rather vivid illustration of the failings that taint the American dream. There was something rather ironic in the fact that having travelled all around the world it was in the land of the free that we had to be most careful for our personal safety.

The shuttle bus that drove us from the airport whisked us through the city's suburbs, giving us a tantalising glimpse of the White House as we neared the centre. After a nights rest we set off in search of that rather famous abode to get a closer look. My brain may not be very big but everyone who visits must experience the "I'm standing outside the White house" feeling. It was a very odd sensation.

Washington is a museum lover's utopia, with more museums in a few square kilometres than even the most determined will be able to see. James Smithson a British chemist who, although he had never visited the States himself left 105 bags of gold sovereigns to found an establishment to "increase the diffusion of knowledge among men". The reality is a sprawling collection of some 140 million objects devoted to all fields of interest. There was no way we had the time, or for that matter the will, to visit the lot so we opted to visit a small section, the space museum. The National Air and Space museum to give it its full title is the worlds most popular museum and is an Aladdin's cave of aeronautical history. We were lucky enough to be taken on a free tour so we got to see all the best bits and have them explained. A life size mock up of the Moon lander and the Wright brothers' original bi plane are but a few of the treasures that dangled from the ceiling.

Our brains recharged with knowledge we set of to see Washington's other attractions the monuments. The city seems to have adopted the mentality that, if you haven't got much history then build some. We started at the Lincoln memorial where a huge towering statue of the president, immortalised by the American public for saving the union and ending slavery, towers above you as he reclines in his chair. Impressed we started the walk past the reflecting lake to the needle like monolith that is the Washington monument. Joggers running around us like flies we continued up towards Capitol Hill the work place to those who weald more power than can be good for them. Recovering from the walk, we sat on the steps and watched the sun go down over the city while the lights of the capitol building illuminated the night sky. Then all we had to do was make it home without getting shot or mugged.

We can hardly say that we had seen all of Washington's attractions but we had seen the famous sights and hey, we have been doing this for a long time and can't be expected to keep the energy up for ever. Washington was nice enough with its green parks and sweeping views but this was certainly a city to be visited and not lived in.

Jon & liz
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REPORT ARCHIVE
The Beginning 14 - THAILAND Bangkok
01 - INDIA Delhi 15 - THAILAND Bridge Over the River Kwai
02 - INDIA Agra Taj Mahal 16 - THAILAND Chang Mai - The Long Necks
03 - INDIA Jaipur 17 - AUSTRALIA Kakadu National Park
04 - INDIA Camel Safari 18 - AUSTRALIA Ayers Rock
05 - INDIA Mount Abu 19 - AUSTRALIA Great barrier Reef
06 - INDIA Goa 20 - AUSTRALIA Fraser Island
07 - INDIA Mumbai (Bombay) 21 - AUSTRALIA Sydney
08 - HONG KONG 22 - NEW ZEALAND South Island
09 - PHILIPPINES Boracay & Panglao Island 23 - NEW ZEALAND North Island
10 - PHILIPPINES Bohol Chocolate Hills 24 - USA Hawaii Oahu Island
11 - PHILIPPINES Banaue Rice Terraces 25 - USA San Francisco
12 - MALAYSIA Kuala Lumpur 26 - USA Washington DC
13 - MALAYSIA Penang, Georgetown 27 - USA New York
  28 - UK - THE END
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Washington Memorial