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Five Days in Washington DC - Day 4 - 29/10/19 - Capitol Tour, Library of Congress & National Archive

Day 4 - Tuesday 29th October 2019

Index is here.

The alarm went off just before 8am and I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower. It was a struggle getting moving today.

We made it down to breakfast about an hour later, where we had the same as yesterday - cereal and toast for me, and cereal, yoghurt and bacon and egg for Martin. No photos of the cooked breakfast, as while I was doing my toast, Martin had eaten his. The toaster is quite slow!

We went back to the room to pick up our things for the day. It was cloudier and a bit cooler today, but we decided to leave our jackets at the hotel, rather than probably end up carrying them all day. We left the room at about 10 am and walked to Foggy Bottom station, to catch the metro to Capitol South - we’d got a tour booked for 11am.

We approached the rear of the Capitol Building at about 10:35 am, and stopped to take a few photos, before joining the queue to clear security at the Visitor Centre. We then went down to the lower level to swap our tour reservation paperwork for actual tickets.

The tour started with a short film in the nearby theatre, then we left to join our guide. We were in Mary-Ellen’s group - she’d been a tour guide at the Capitol for 40 years.

We first visited the Crypt room, which had some statues around the edge and had a star in the centre of the floor. All of the streets in Washington are laid out and numbered from that point, so we should assume the star is zero, and all quadrants of the city leave from it.

Mary-Ellen told us that they held a contest to design the Capitol Building and the winner was a British man called William Thornton. The prize was $500, which in 1793 must have been a huge amount of money.

A tomb area was built for the remains of George Washington beneath the Crypt, but his will had specified that he did not want to be buried like a King, and instead wished to be buried at his home at Mount Vernon. His family followed his wishes.

We moved onward into the Rotunda next. This is like a ceremonial space at the heart of the Capitol, with historic paintings on the walls and is directly underneath the Capitol dome.

The Rotunda has been considered the most suitable place for the nation to pay a final tribute to its most eminent citizens. Abraham Lincoln was the first president to lie in state there, with many others since. Rosa Parks is the only women to lie in rest there.

We then walked through to the National Statuary Hall , where each statue is the gift of a state, with the exception of a statue of Rosa Parks. This statue was commissioned by Congress to mark 100 years since her birth and in recognition of her massive contribution to the civil rights movement.

I also loved Nebraska’s contribution in here, which was a statue of Chief Standing Bear. This was the newest statue in the room, having only been unveiled a month ago.

While we were in this room, we saw Nancy Pelosi walk by, with her security team. She is the current speaker of the house and the first woman to hold that position.

It was soon time to head back downstairs. The tour had lasted about an hour and Mary-Ellen had been extremely knowledgable and passionate about the building and its history. We easily could have listened to her for hours.

We decided to go to the cafe on the lower level to get a drink, and while there, were tempted by a piece of blueberry cheesecake. I have to say that the cafe here was excellent, with so much variety. If only it was a bit later in the day, we’d have been spoiled for choice for lunch.

Once we’d finished our refreshments, we decided to head along the tunnel to the Library of Congress. We started at the top of the building and worked our way down.

We were able to view the Reading Room first, then went onto Thomas Jefferson’s Library. We enjoyed our time here, exploring the different rooms and looking at the decorative ceiling.

By about 1:45 pm, we were ready to make a move, so we left the building, walked past the Supreme Court, then headed around to the other side of the Capitol Building, taking lots of photos on the way.

The map said that there was a reflecting pool on this side - we saw where it was supposed to be but it was empty of water for some reason.

We walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the National Archives Building. There were no photos allowed in here, but we spent a pleasant hour looking at the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We also enjoyed the murals on the wall, showing all of the key players from that time.

By now, it was getting on for 4 pm and we were at risk of missing lunch again. We checked Google for somewhere close by where we could get something quick and found Shake Shack - it didn’t take long for us to agree we’d head there. We both ordered a Shackburger, with a side of crinkle cut fries. Lovely.

We continued to walk and browse in a couple of shops, but after leaving shops empty handed, we soon gave up. My foot still felt like it had cramp, and my walking pace had got much slower over the day. If only I’d known what was to come. 🙈 I’d have never worn those flat shoes! We ordered an Uber back to the hotel, arriving there at about 5pm.

We relaxed for an hour, before getting ready for dinner. Tonight we’d got a reservation to eat at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab. Another night with no make up - although the swelling in my eye had reduced, it still felt a little itchy.

We arrived right on time for our 7:30 pm reservation, and were shown straight to our table. First impressions were that we’d chosen well - the restaurant seemed absolutely lovely.

We were served iced water and a bread basket while we perused the menu. I ordered a glass of Prosecco and Martin asked them to recommend an IPA.

For food, Martin chose a crab cake to start, followed by Tuna fillet served with crispy potato cake, spinach, mushrooms and a bordelaise sauce. The non-fish lover on the opposite side of the table stuck with the bread as a starter, with a petite fillet steak with Mashed Potatoes for my main course. I also pinched some of his sauce, as it went equally well with my steak.

The food was delicious and the service was excellent. We declined dessert as we were too full, and asked for the bill. The total came to $136.

We decided to leave and have a walk for a bit, but somehow ended up walking the opposite way to our hotel. Eventually we gave up and booked another Uber, but not before getting another photo of the Washington Monument.

We got back to our hotel and managed to arrange a late check of 1pm for tomorrow. We then relaxed with the last glass of our wine from the fridge.

Our step count had been a fair bit lower today at just 19671 steps.

Edited at 08:12 PM.
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