My East Coast Adventures: Washington, D.C.

Hi all!

As you know, I’ve just gotten back from my amazing two-week trip to the US and I want to share my experiences with you all!

READ PART 1: NEW YORK HERE
READ PART 3: BOSTON HERE

Washington, D.C. was an incredible city — it’s big and so old looking. It kind of reminded me a little bit of Paris, with its wide streets and big white historical buildings.

I’ve always wanted to go to D.C. because there’s so much history there, and I will forever be a history major in my heart. I’ve never done much research into American history, as I have always adored European history, but being in the US capitol was a life-changing experience. I learnt so much while I was there.

And if you’re asking if I pretended that Hillary Clinton was the president while I was there, yes. Yes, I did.

(Please be warned that this post contains an image of a dead body in the form of an Ancient Egyptian mummy. I am intrigued by mummies so I took photos with them, but if this is something that weirds you out or can trigger you, please don’t look at the photos in “Day Two”.)

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DAY ONE:

We woke up at 5:30 in the morning in New York city to be at the train station for our 7:47am train to D.C. Our train ride was, surprisingly, quite nice, and I got to sleep a little on the train which was sorely needed as we had a big day ahead of us.

Once we arrived in D.C. and dropped our luggage off at our hotel, we immediately went in search of the White House. Which was … hard to find.

First we had to walk ten minutes to the metro station, then take the train to as close a station as possible, and then walk another ten minutes to the House. But there was the problem: we couldn’t find the White House.

We walked for a good hour and a bit, visiting the White House Visitor Centre, and taking photos of the Washington Monument (which can be seen from every angle in Washington). At one point, my sister thought she saw the White House but it ended up being the roof of a hotel.

And then, finally, between the gaps of two trees, I finally spotted the White House. After over an hour of searching. Honestly, the White House shouldn’t have been so hard to find as it is in the middle of the National Mall (a massive park that contains the White House, Capitol Hill, all the memorials, and the Smithsonian museums), but the problem was there were so many trees in front of it, we couldn’t see it! Cue to me screaming at my sister, “It has to be right there. Literally, right there, that’s the middle of the Mall!” Anyway, we did find it eventually and here’s some photos:

After finding the White House, we walked over to Ford’s Theatre and the Peterson House. The theatre is famous because it’s where President Abraham Lincoln was shot, and the house, directly across the street, is where he was taken afterwards and where he died a day later. We found out that he actually died on April 15, which is my sister’s birthday. (My sister’s birthday is actually a date that a lot of famous events occurred — another being the sinking of the Titanic. The Titanic actually left America on April 10, our brother’s birthday, and then sunk five days later, on my sister’s birthday.)

Inside Ford’s Theatre, the booth where Lincoln was shot has been squared off — no one can sit in it anymore, but you can still visit it. The gun in the photo below is apparently the real gun that was used to shoot Lincoln. This was such a cool place to visit! And on day two, we actually got to see a performance here!

That night, my sister and I went to watch The Hate U Give. The movie isn’t coming out until the end of January in Australia so we desperately wanted to watch it while we were in America. It was an amazing movie, as I knew it would be. But even knowing it would be good didn’t prepare me for how amazing it actually was. Amandla Stenberg was a fantastic Starr, and the rest of the cast were just as powerful actors. Please support this movie when it comes out!

Day two:

On our second day in Washington D.C., we spent the whole day wandering around the Smithsonian museums. I wish were had something like the Smithsonian in Australia, because they are undoubtedly one of the most incredible museums I’ve ever been to.

We started off the day in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, which was quite similar to the Natural History Museum in New York, but I love natural history so I thoroughly enjoyed my time in here.

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As you saw in my last post, I’m really fascinated by ancient humans — who we came from, who our ancestors were — and in the Smithsonian, we found a long wall full of skulls of ancient humans, including Australopithecus, Homo ErectusHomo Habilis, and more. It gives me goosebumps to think about how old these skulls are, that they came from real people, who every human is most likely descended from. Check out the slideshow!

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We then found the Ancient Egypt section of the museum, and I think it’s safe to say I had an amazing time there. I found a couple of mummies and took photos with them, while the security guard laughed at me and called me a “strange white girl”. 😂

Here are a couple more photos from the Smithsonian Natural History museum!

Straight after this museum, we made our way to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which is the best museum I’ve ever been to! It’s so unlike any other in the world, and I could have spent an entire day in this one museum myself. But we only had three days in Washington, although I will definitely be going back one day!

The most exciting attraction in this museum is the original plane created by the Wright brothers! This is the first plane that was ever made and I got to see it with my own eyes. My sister and I spent about half an hour in this room alone, taking photos and just looking at this incredible achievement. It really blows my mind that someone created something like this.

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The Wright Brothers plane

Another exciting attraction is Amelia Earhart’s plane, Bessie! With this plane, Amelia became the first woman ever to fly across the Atlantic! Look how cute it is!

Finally, that night, my sister and I were lucky enough to attend a production of A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. Yes, the same theatre where Abraham Lincoln was shot at! I’ve never read A Christmas Carol, although I plan to before the end of the year, but this production made me super excited to read it! The actors were absolutely incredible, including the children! I definitely recommend watching something at this theatre if you find yourself in Washington D.C.!

Day three:

Our final day in Washington, D.C. found us travelling half the city to follow the memorial trail. The famous memorials in D.C. include the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial — along with the memorial to soldiers in the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

We started off at the Lincoln Memorial, which is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life. It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be, but it was still so awe-inspiring to be there. Lincoln was one of America’s most famous presidents, and the memorial is one of the most famous landmarks in the US.

We then found the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech, which is right outside on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I got literal chills standing where MLK once stood so many years ago. We also got a stunning view of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial. Granted, you can see the Monument from everywhere in Washington, but it took my sister and I ages to get a good shot of it.

The MLK Memorial is about a five minute walk from the Lincoln Memorial, which is the closest any monument is to another monument (everything in Washington is so big and far away from everything else). This was probably my favourite Memorial — it’s so beautiful and atmospheric. I love the design of this Memorial, it is by far the most unique.

The entire memorial is fenced in by slabs of marble with some of MLK’s most famous quotes. This one is my favourite:

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Then we finally went to the Jefferson Memorial, which is a twenty minute walk from MLK. It was a long walk, but it’s made better by the lovely view of the Potomac River, which we walked next to. The Jefferson Memorial looks a little like the Lincoln Memorial, but like the MLK one, it is surrounded by famous quotes, said by Jefferson. I took a photo of my favourite quote, which I think is a really important message that everyone needs to adhere to, especially in these modern times.

This is the famous quote. Please take the time to read it, I think it’s so important!

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If you can’t read it, it says:

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances. Institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilised society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

It’s basically saying that laws must change as society develops and changes. We can’t follow the same rules and laws that were in place when we were younger or even before we were born if society and people have changed. I fully intend to say this quote to the next person who ever brings up the bible as their evidence in an argument with me.

Next, we visited the National Archives, which was the best place we went to while in Washington D.C. I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the Archives because it’s the home of some really, really old documents including … the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.

I can’t even begin to tell you how humbling it was being in the presence of these documents. To see the signatures of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and more was so chilling — it confirmed that they were real people who had existed, not just some American figures. I wish I could have taken photos in here, but the documents were so faded, especially the Bill of Rights. You could barely see the writing.

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Then that night, we went a did the monuments and memorials all over again with a tour bus called Monuments by Moonlight. It was so amazing seeing these monuments at nighttime, the moonlight gave them all a completely different look and feel — it was so eerie but amazing. In the slideshow you’ll also see the Korean War Monument and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

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THE NEXT DAY WE LEFT FOR BOSTON …

I had an amazing time in Washington D.C. I can definitely see myself visiting this city again (hopefully when they have a better president), and here are some of my final thoughts about the city …

  • It’s very big. The streets are massively wide and it took a very long time to walk from one monument/attraction to the next. Thankfully, it was a lovely walk
  • There is not enough entrances to the metro trains, meaning you have to walk everywhere or get an Uber/cab. For one instance, to get from our hotel to the main train station (where we had to meet for our Monuments by Moonlight tour), we had to walk ten minutes to the closest train station, and then take two trains — the trip would have taken about half an hour, maybe 40 minutes. But if you took an Uber, the ride was less than 10 minutes. Washington, D.C. definitely needs more stations!
  • Washington, D.C. is a bit more disabled friendly than New York, as we saw ramps leading into restaurants, but, like New York, there was no sound to alert you when its time to cross the road
  • Washington, D.C. is also really clean — far, far cleaner than New York had been
  • All the buildings, government, personal and shopping, were really nice as they all matched with that beautiful white stone. What I loved most was that all the museums in Washington were free, unlike New York
  • However, there was a lot of security in the capital, from getting into museums, to just walking along the street, there were police and government security everywhere

I can definitely see myself returning to D.C. the next time I visit America!

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MY NEXT TRAVEL POST ABOUT BOSTON WILL BE UP FRIDAY 21st!

11 thoughts on “My East Coast Adventures: Washington, D.C.

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