WASHINGTON (District of Columbia)

Washington DC Photo Gallery




Washington ( 21st and 22nd September 2010)


We book a room at a cheap motel in Camp Springs, Maryland, just outside the Andrews Air Force Base. The hotel is close to the end of the green Metro line, at Branch Avenue.

We walk the mile or so to the Metro rail station and work out how to buy a Farecard. It's all pretty easy and we're soon on our way to L'Enfant Plaza in Washington to get off at the National Mall.

The National Mall


The Mall runs down the centre of Washington, with the domed US Capitol at one end and the tall spire of the Washington Monument at the other. It is now under the care of the National Park Service. At the monument end is the White House and there are plenty of grand buildings in between. The Smithsonian museum has many of the buildings directly on the Mall. We start by walking up to the US Capitol with its huge white dome. We then swing by Pennsylvania Avenue which houses the National Archives building and the FBI building. We see some very obvious “feds” wandering about with their square haircuts and dark suits; just like they are on TV!

The White House

We get to the White House and take some photos from the Ellipse Park opposite. You can't get up to the actual fence as it's all blocked off by high security. A couple of guys were taking a video with a tripod and got stopped by the Secret Service. There are tons of police around. Someone leaves a bag at the foot of the National Christmas Tree and the area gets rapidly cleared of people. We see someone walking the president's dog in the grounds and Air Force 1 flies overhead. Later there is a convoy of cars so we're not sure if the president has arrived or left the building.


Memorial Park

Moving on down, we pass the tall monolith of the Washington Monument and walk in to the Memorial Park. Most of the memorials were built after the 1980s. It's a really impressive area with relaxing green space and touching monuments to the wars. The World War II memorial is first. It's a large circle of columns representing each of the states, centred around a big water feature and infinity pools. At each end is a monument to either the Atlantic or Pacific battles.

We walk along the side of the Reflecting pool, watching the Canadian geese, and get to the Lincoln Memorial. This is a very famous building that houses the large statue of the seated president Lincoln and the words of the Gettysburg Address are on the wall. There are tons of Brits hanging round here for some reason.

Next stop is the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. The main memorial is two very large long triangles of dark marble that are inscribed with the name of every soldier lost in Vietnam. The list looks endless but is around 58,000 people. There are directories you can look through so you can find a particular name on the monument. Some people have left poems and mementoes there. It's very touching. Next to the monument is a very lifelike statue of three servicemen.


We walk round the back of the Lincoln Memorial and get to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. This has been really well designed. It involves a group of 19 stainless steel statues of a squad of soldiers on patrol in the rugged Korean terrain in weathered ponchos. It's very atmospheric. A granite wall reflects the soldiers but is also etched with the faces of other military people involved in the war. We were very surprised by the number of US and UN soldiers that died in this 1950s war; it's not something either of us knew much about.

National Air and Space Museum

As it's so hot on our second day we decide to go to one of the Smithsonian museums and choose the National Air and Space Museum. It's really smart and modern inside with no sign of a tired exhibit. After a quick wander round some of the planes hanging from the ceiling we take the free guided tour at 1pm. The guide is really interesting and easy to listen to. His talk lasts about 1.5 hours and covers quite a lot of the museum. We move from space travel, to the Wright brothers and the development of flight, then back to the first man on the moon. The museum has been donated a number of original historic vehicles, including the Wright's Flyer and the first human powered plane.