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US/UK/HK Trip: Washington DC

Part of our 2012 US/UK/HK Trip. See the explanation and summary entry.

We arrived in Washington DC on Sunday night. The landing was a bit unnerving, as the plane made a relatively steep turn not far off the ground to line up with the runway (I assume to stay out of Pentagon airspace). I've flown a fair bit, but when you can tell the make and model of cars looking down the wing at the ground during a turn at night, it is a bit unusual.

Anywho, we mainly did the typical touristy thing during our time in Washington. We got around mainly by walking and on the Old Town Trolley Tour bus circuit (which I highly recommend for the fantastic drivers and their commentary, especially when compared to their pre-recorded competitors).

The first day was rainy, but we managed to fit in a fair bit: most of the memorials: Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean (the Korean one during the rain added an extra bit of impact imo), and FDR (which was very big and comprehensive, but a bit over the top to be honest). We also went to the  American Museum, and also the National Archives, where we saw the original documents of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (unfortunately no photos were allowed of those).

Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial

We were also in town on the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the National Archives had a great exhibit on it, with declassified tapes from White House meetings, as well as the original memos and telegrams to and from Kennedy and Khrushchev.

The next day we went to the Capitol Building. It was interesting being in Washington a mere few weeks before the presidential election (there was one of the debates on one of the nights we were there), and at the Capitol Building they were already building the platform for the presidential inauguration next year. We did the tour, and later even got in to see the House of Representatives which I didn't think was available to foreigners, but apparently it was easier for us to get a pass than US citizens; they had to go to their local representative's office to get a pass and all we had to do was show photo ID to the Gallery security guard.

Capitol Building
Capitol Building

After the Capitol, we walked the tunnel to the Library of Congress and did a tour there too. It was really great, and definitely well worth the time; we got to see a private congressional reading/reception room usually off limits to the public (our guide was really awesome, albeit a little long in explaining everything to extensive detail).

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Later that day we saw the White House, the relatively new WWII memorial, and Washington Monument which was unfortunately closed off because of an earthquake last year which made it a little structurally unsound.

White House
White House

One thing during our trip to the US that we definitely noticed by the time we reached the end of our stay in Washington is that Australians are everywhere. We'd barely gone anywhere without hearing an Australian accent or noticing them around us. It's a bit disappointing when you've travelled so far to still hear and see the same old thing!

Our last day in Washington was mainly spent in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. To be honest, it's getting a little dated, but still pretty cool.

That night we caught the train to New York.

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