12/06/2013 - 16/06/2013
We took an overnight train from Chicago to Washington, which was a lot more pleasant than the overnight bus from Banff to Vancouver. I like how much legroom and space you get on American trains. From Washington we headed out to the Takoma Park area in Maryland, which is where our Airbnb accommodation was. We had a studio apartment to ourselves, which was really really lovely. The owner met us and gave us an impressively thorough introduction to the apartment and also to Washington - she had maps and guides, plus provided breakfast foods and coffee and such like. It was a bus journey from the subway system, so it took a little while to get to and from Washington, but it was worth it to stay in such a nice place.
On our first full day in Washington, the weather forecast was for storms, so we planned a day of museum visits - specifically in the Smithsonian museums, which are mostly free. We started off at the American History Museum, which was decent, then moved on to the Air and Space Museum, which was good too. It's a shame we didn't get the chance to go to the zoo at some point during our trip, as that's also free (as is the one in Chicago that we didn't have time to visit either), but it was a bit out of the way.
Our second day in Washington was a nice sunny one (pretty hot in fact), so we had a day of sightseeing. We managed to squeeze in all the main sights, including the Capitol building, the FBI building (as a big X-Phile, I was particularly excited by this!), Ford's Theatre, The White House (of course), the Washington Monument (which is still being fixed up after the earthquake), the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. Here are a few photos:
On our third and final full day in Washington, we spent most of the day at the Newseum, which if you can't guess from the name is a museum about the news. It's not free, but it is very very good and well worth the money. Also, your entry ticket is valid for 2 days, so you don't need to rush around. We didn't have 2 days available, but we got there early and had plenty of time to see it in one day. There are a lot of interactive exhibits, plus an interesting variety of exhibits. It's aimed more at older children and adults and it's designed to be walked around in a specific order, so it's all very controlled and easy to ensure you don't miss out on anything. Definitely recommended. Afterwards we managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Arlington Cemetery before it closed. That was great to see, just because it's so iconic - being a fan of shows like The X-Files, The West Wing and Bones (all set in Washington), it was quite exciting to get to see all those small, white, uniform graves in person. Is it a bit weird and wrong to say a visit to a grave site was exciting? Oh well. Here's a photo:
All in all I really enjoyed our time in Washington. Mostly because it's just full of iconic sights, which are all pretty close together. It would have been nice to have had a bit longer there so we could have explored some of the different neighbourhoods, like Dupont Circle and Georgetown, which are meant to be really nice. But hey, maybe some other time.