Sunday, 17 June 2018

Day 8 & 9: Washington DC

Where to start!!
Washington DC is the US capital, a beautiful city on the Potomac River. It is defined by imposing neoclassical monuments, buildings and museums - thousands of them – including iconic ones such as the White House and Capital building. I love museums and macarbly, grave yards, so I was excited to explore this city.

We had 2 days to see as much as possible, if we had 2 years, I still don’t think we would have got through all the places of interest to visit. We thought the best place to start was the Big Bus tour.  The red line took us around the buildings and museums and the blue line to Virginia - the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. We ran out of time to do the yellow route.

The buildings are really very beautiful, I think my favorite was the Capital building with its large dome topped with the lady freedom statue. Arguably,  the most ugly building was the FBI building. In between are large buildings housing everything from the Red Cross to the  Pensioners Department, to the Navy and so on, it is a town filled with civil servants. There are also thousands of statues, some of famous people but most we had no clue of what their claim to fame was.

The museums are mind blowing and most you need at least a day to explore. There are museums for everything from the Bible Museum to the Smithsonians, which are all free and amazing. We loved the Air and Space Museum, voted one of the top 5 museums in the world. Another interesting museum was one on the White House, conveniently situated across the road from our hotel.

A memorable stop was at the Lincoln Memorial, everything is so big here and the iconic statue of Lincoln, sitting in his chair, is no exception. From the memorial you get a great view of the obelisk like Washington Monument across the long rectangular reflecting pool. This monument is said to be the tallest free standing structure in the world, it is still however, shorter than the Eiffel Tower (useless fact).  From there we wondered down to the Vietnam Vet memorial – a semi submerged wall with the names of all who died in that terrible war. My favorite statue was a giant one of Albert Einstein in front of the Department of Science.

I think the most most profound of our visits was the Arlington National Cemetery.  We went on a guided tour around this pristinely kept property, the final resting place for over 400 000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. Steeped in history, the scenic landscape is a living shrine or honour the fallen.

The Big Bus companies have been a great way to see the cities we have visited. They also come with frustrations, at times. In New York our driver went through a red robot and slammed on brakes, narrowly missing a car. In Washington, a car side swiped us at a busy intersection, the driver had a cracked side mirror and there was no damage to the bus. The driver however insisted that we stay on the bus and wait for the police to arrive. After a 45 minute wait in the boiling sun we were allowed to board another bus. Also, the promised 15 minute wait at a stop, can be a whole lot longer.

On our second night in Washington we decided to eat at the restaurant of our hotel, it was on the side walk and we had a really pleasant evening watching the passing parade. Before dinner we had drinks at the roof top bar. This trendy place was definitely a meeting place for young professionals and the place to be seen. The views over Washington were spectacular.  At first I was a little reserved about this trendy hotel with its funky murals, bright lights and discretely packed sex item among the nuts and chocolates in our room but it has turned out to be wonderful – it was fun, hip, the staff were amazing and best of all it was in a great location.

On our last night in DC we had dinner in a Mexican restaurant and on our stroll home we stopped for ice creams. We ordered small tubs and these contained 4 scoops. Everything is BIG here but my choc chip/cookie dough/peanut butter cup Ice cream was delicious. We walked passed the South side of the White House as the sun was setting.

Washington was a great place to visit.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Day 7: Boston to Washington

Sadly, we are leaving Boston, I loved this town. Bostonians move at a slower pace, they are super friendly and really proud of their town. June is gay pride month in Boston and there were rainbow flags everywhere. The news of the day when we woke up was that someone had stolen one of the flags from outside a shop.  Whew, first world problems.

We had breakfast at a little restaurant overlooking the Commons and Ubered to Back Bay Station to catch our Amtrack to Washington.

It was a 7 hours train ride that took us back to New York along the beautiful waterways of the area. It was a good day to travel as the weather was overcast and rainy. The trip from NY to Washington passed through Philadelphia, Delaware and Baltimore, these areas were not so pretty from the train as they were more industrial.

Washington Union station was beautiful and we walked out to a glorious, sunny, hot and somewhat humid afternoon.

Our Washington W Hotel is centrally situated, across the road from the US Treasury which is next to the White House. It is very different from our previous 2 hotels that were  smart, quiet and sedate. This hotel is trendy, loud and definitely pitched at the millennial generation.  It is however fun, hip and friendly and we are enjoying the change.

After a long day sitting on the train we went for an evening walk, the sun was still high in the sky and it was very hot. Gray has been wanting to eat at a proper American steak place but all we could find was a burger joint. I ordered Harry’s baby burger, glad I didn’t go for Harry’s huge one (burger that is).

After dinner we strolled back via the White House, getting a great evening view of it and Washington Monument.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Day 6: Boston

Our day started with a stroll through the Commons to State House, with it’s giant gold dome.  We caught a bus that took us around the ‘Freedom trail’ sights and then to the harbor where we took a boat trip around Boston Harbour. I love being on the water and it’s a great way to get a ‘big picture’ view of the city. There is so much history in beautiful  Boston  and even the harbour area has museums and old boats to visit.

We had lunch at a diner, we wanted something light, Gray’s turkey sandwich was more than he bargained for. Thankfully my brisket roll was more manageable and seriously delicious.

We then walked through the Cambridge suburb of Boston to the Harvard Campus. It reminded me of my time studying at Wits. Just a whole lot bigger and very beautiful.

On the way home, we crossed over the Charles River and saw the MIT buildings. The Charles River is said to be the cleverest River in the world as it is surrounded by Harvard, MIT and Boston University.

We had dinner, lobster rolls, at the Atlantic Fish Company. The flower arrangements in the restaurant were proteas and stralitzias. I asked the waitress about the floral choice and she didn’t even know where Johannesburg was, let alone anything regarding our flora. She was however really sweet.

We finished dinner around 8:30 and as it was a nice night, we strolled home through the Commons, watched a softball game for a few minutes and the beautiful sunset. It was magical.