At the Metro Du Pont stationI love the dome shaped ceiling
The trip to Washington D.C wasn't exactly planned for. It was a last minute decision. I couldn't think of any reason why I wouldn't go especially when D.C has been on my 'places to visit' list. I like to think that if you visit the U.S, there are 3 must-go places - New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
As TS had described, D.C is indeed a very 'stately' place to visit. Everything seems so distinguished and proper yet somewhat welcoming and interesting with a very rich history. It was actually my first time going around in a foreign city on my very own!
My closer friends would know that I am an obsessive detailed planner. Each time I travel, I draw up an agenda in a spreadsheet and I spend time researching on what I would like to visit, see and eat. I believe it saves time if you know where what you want to visit is located at so that you can plan to visit them all in an organized manner. Some cities are sprawled out and you definitely do not want to waste time commuting to and fro haphazardly. But just as compulsive as I am, I am also flexible when it comes to the actual travel itself. Most of the time, I land up following my agenda but going with the flow and moving things around. This D.C trip was no exception.
I had a decent 4 full days of sightseeing and I knew what were the must-visits. When I reached D.C, I explored the options of getting around. I was tempted to sign up for the Segway tour but it proved to be way too expensive (in my opinion). For a 3 hour tour, it costs USD$70. I opted for the Old Trolley Tours
and it was great that there was an on-going promotion. I paid just USD$35 for two full days where I could hop on and off the tour bus at the various designated stops from 9am-530pm. Also, the trolley runs on propane gas and is environmentally friendly!
I was staying at a central and convenient location - near the Du Pont Circle. An excellent location although expensive! I am glad that I didn't have to pay for the USD$300 per night hotel accomodation! -_- Whenever I travel, I try to ensure that I am staying near the public transport where trains and buses are easily available. This was right smack in the heart of town and if I wanted to, I could even walk down to town. I actually walked to and fro to Georgetown.
If you opt to go on a Trolley Tour, this is what I would suggest. Get on the bus and sit for one loop. You'll be able to see where it goes - you have a map that marks out the trolley route, but it's good to see where it stops for you to get on and off and also, to decide if you eventually want to visit that place. Another great thing is that the driver gives a live commentary as he drives and you get to learn very exciting facts and history about the various spots. For example the Hilton hotel that Reagan was shot in, or the theatre where Lincoln was assassinated in etc.
For the rest of the days, I got around using the Metro and public bus. It wasn't difficult at all. Also, I tried to cover the places that the trolley stopped at especially those that were out of the way like the Arlington cemetery. One tip if you travel to DC - try to pre-book tickets for the major attractions like the Washington Monument, the Pentagon etc. I wasn't able to visit the Pentagon because you need to book tickets and they were all sold out. I was able to visit most places but didn't have a chance to go into places like the Washington Monument itself, the White House, Capitol Building tour etc.
I'll write about the places that I visited in more detail in separate posts but here is a brief summary of what I did -
Day 1 - Visited B.T's relatives then shopped around in Georgetown and tried the fantastic cupcakes.
Day 2 - Bought the trolley bus ticket, hopped on, stayed a loop then visited the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, FDR memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, WWII Memorial and Reflecting pool, Washington Monument, the White House and the National Museum of American History.
Day 3 - Visited the National Cathedral, Union Station, Capitol Building, US Supreme Court, Georgetown for a second round of cupcakes and found a nice organic cafe to have dinner at.
Day 4 - Went over to the Basilica of National Shrine of Immaculate (a must-visit for me as it's the largest Catholic church in North America), Air and Space museum and went back to Georgetown for shopping! Had dinner at the Art and Soul restaurant which is opened by Oprah Winfrey's ex-chef! Excellent food.
I didn't cover as many museums as expected as I didn't really feel like it. Perhaps I was museum-ed out from my last trip to NYC and Europe! The Holocaust Memorial was on my to-go list but I backed out after we drove past it and it looked so sombre and I was told that you would feel quite depressed after visiting it!