Leaving the Hilton Hotel in New Jersey, the Trek bus was loaded with luggage and enough equipment to lug 13 strangers and their camping equipment across the United States of America, from the East Coast to the West Coast. Our first stop, Washington DC. Fun Fact: The DC stands for District of Columbia.
My first thoughts of Washington were purely based on what I’d seen from countless film and television shows, and that was that it was a clean and well-structured city, built entirely around its towering monument structures.
The first tip I will offer about Washington is this, if you want to see all the monuments in one day and still leave enough time for yourself to visit the multitude of museums that Washington has to offer, then your best bet is to hire a bike.
Washington boasts a variety of some of the world’s most well known, man-made structures, including (but not limited to) the Washington Monument, the Marine Corps War Memorial, Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and of course, the White House. Our group’s first adventure together would be to bike around Washington DC and hit as many monuments as we can. Starting in the lane between the United States Congress and the Washington Monument, you will see that all the monuments circle around the Washington Monument; clearly a tribute to the first President of the United States.
After this, you will circle around the Washington Monument and head down towards the White House for a quick photo opportunity before proceeding around the circle of streets and to the World War II Memorial. From here, you will be able to see the Pool of Reflection and at its base, the Lincoln Memorial, housing the man himself. This statue towers over everyone as you walk up the famous steps of the Memorial, where so many individuals stood to deliver speeches, rallies and words of peace, including the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr – an imprint of his footprints where his famous “I dreamed a dream” speech was presented can be found at the top of the steps before you enter the memorial itself.
I distinctly remember standing in front of all these monuments with a mix of sensations. The first sensation was awe that I was witnessing these monuments in person. The second sensation was this nagging thought I’d seen all this before, perhaps it was the knowledge that I had seen these monuments before, in films and television. I’d seen them so many times that I felt like I new Washington like the back of my hand. I would be interested to see if you too felt like this if you were a cinephile like me.
If the memorials and monuments aren’t really your thing, or if you manage to see them all with speed and efficiency, then fear not because Washington also boasts some of the world’s most famous museums!
The Smithsonian Institution, established on August 10, 1846, includes The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, The Museum of Natural History, The National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Take a leaf from my book, jump around to as many of them as humanly possible, because there is so much to see! From fossilised bones of dinosaurs long gone, two replicas of Apollo 11, the Batmobile, and a multitude of exhibitions that showcase the history of America’s culture and art.
After a more than eventful interactive walk through history, our group reconvened on the grass of Monument Lane and indulged in a glorious slice of pizza from a local pizzeria, watching the sun set over the Washington Monument, the twinkling lights bouncing off the marble buildings scattered around us as the lights from Congress slowly flickered on in the background. We weren’t the only ones partaking in this peaceful evening, all around the lanes are dog lovers, couples, families and bike riders taking in the sights or simply sitting and enjoying the view.
In a nutshell, Washington is an extravaganza of monuments and museums that will indulge a travellers intellectual, creative, political and historical curiosity. There is more to do in Washington that will keep travellers busy for two, possibly three days before the sites become repetitive.
If you are going to be brave enough to ditch the bikes, be sure to pack your walking shoes!