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Old 4 Nov 19, 07:03 PM  
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Five Days in Washington DC - Day 3 - 28/10/19 - Tour of the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery

Day 3 - Monday 28th October 2019

Index is here.

Martin’s phone buzzed, with what I thought was the 8am alarm. It wasn’t, and instead turned out to be a 5:30 am phone call from a supplier at work.

I was vaguely aware that my eye felt a bit gunky, but soon rolled over and went back to sleep, waking naturally again at 7:50 am.

I went to the bathroom and saw that my left eyelid was completely swollen. Great! 😔 I’m not sure if poking at it had caused it, or me feeling that something was in it last night was a sign of things to come. More eye drops were used and I’d be wearing my glasses today instead of my contact lenses.

We showered and went for breakfast. I just had cereal and toast and didn’t take any photos. Martin had some cereal, yoghurt and granola and a few bits from the hot buffet - there was a massive queue for the omelettes today.

We both had orange juice and I grabbed a mug of hot water to take back to the room and put in the fridge. I felt sure that some cooled sterile water might be nice to bathe my eye with later.

We left the hotel at about 10:15 am, with me wearing flat sandals today as it was sunny again.

We walked towards Dupont Circle metro, stopping to take some photos of Halloween decorations on the way.

We saw the Metro sign, but after five minutes searching for the entrance, re-traced our steps and found it on the opposite side of the street in which we’d arrived in the area. In our defence it was not well signposted!

We went to buy our metro passes - they were $10 each which includes a $2 charge for the card, with the rest as a balance to use. We felt that this would probably be roughly what we’d need over the coming days.

The metro was easy to use with the different coloured lines being clear on signage on the platforms. The choices on this platform were the silver line, blue line or orange line.

I also liked how the lights on the floor came on when a train was approaching.

We got the first train to Metro Centre then changed to the blue line for the Pentagon. When we arrived, the exit for the Visitors Centre was well signposted, and the entrance to the centre was immediately on the right as you exited the station, where a line of people were waiting. It was now 11 am and the confirmation email we’d received had requested that we arrive an hour before our tour. In reality, half an hour would be plenty early enough, so I wouldn’t worry if you’ve got a tour booked and are running a little late.

We were approached by a police officer as soon as we joined the end of the line, asking if he could help. We told him we were booked on a tour and as soon as he’d checked the tour time, with us, we could join the line. He was turning people away if they hadn’t pre-booked.

We were let into the building a few minutes later, where we showed our ID, were given a visitor badge and went through security.

There was a small seating area with restrooms and a gift shop where you had to wait for your tour. There was also one last photo opportunity in there before cameras had to be switched off.

At about 11:50 am, we were called up to give our names, and then just before midday, we were taken through into a theatre and seated - everyone definitely moved to the end of a row here and some families were separated. It didn’t matter though, because after a couple of minutes of introduction, family groups were called out to a particular guide.

Our group were allocated two guides - a lady representing the US Coastguard and a young man representing the US Navy. I think some of the tour is different, depending on the guide, as they have to take tests to be able to take you down particular corridors.

Our corridors involved talks on the Coastguard Service, the Navy, plus the ANZUS corridor, which was about the Australia, New Zealand and US collaboration.

The guides switched over half way and the Navy tour guide took us to the Pentagon memorial room, where there is still a book of condolence along with the names of everyone who had lost their lives at the Pentagon on 9/11. There was also a lovely little chapel adjacent to this area.

He told us that there may well have been more casualties if the plane had hit anywhere else at the Pentagon, because the area of impact had been having some major renovations, therefore there were only a fraction of the usual office workers in there.

The glass in the windows is treated to ensure photos can’t be taken from outside - they’re also sound proofed too to stop any unauthorised devices listening in from the grounds.

Next we were given a choice of seeing more of inside or going outside, and our group opted for outside. We then went out in to the centre courtyard in the middle of the grounds. It’s the only place that has a no hat, no salute rule, where people don’t need to salute their seniors. Our guide was rather glad about that considering that just about everyone he might encounter would be senior to him. We spent a few minutes walking round the courtyard before heading back inside.

It was surprising to see the amount of shopping areas, drug stores, even a phone shop and there was also a huge food court with about 17 different types of food vendor. Inside of the Pentagon seemed more like a small town, with everything there to fully accommodate the needs of the 26000 people that work there.

All too soon, our tour was over and we walked to the outside 9/11 memorial, even though we knew most of it was currently closed for maintenance. We did manage to see the entrance though.

We decided to walk towards Arlington Cemetery, trying to follow Google Maps, while we walked alongside a busy road. Within 10 minutes, we’d found an entry gate, although it was on the opposite side of the cemetery to where we wanted to be.

We cleared security and picked up a map, then followed the roads toward the Visitor Centre. We were taken aback at just how many gravestones were there. While we were walking, we passed at least 3 military funerals taking place, some of which had bands and rifle salutes. We obviously kept well away from those areas.

We eventually reached the Visitor Centre at about 1:50 pm, bought a couple of bottles of water and tickets for the trolley tour. It was another hot day and Martin’s ankle was hurting him. This would allow us to see some key parts of the grounds, without too much more walking.

Our first stop was at JFK’s memorial, with the eternal flame. The next couple of scheduled stops were skipped, due to the road being dug up, but then we were taken to the Amphitheater, with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier behind it. It was 2:20 pm by now, and we knew the Changing of the Guard Ceremony wasn’t due until 3pm, so we decided to explore other areas nearby first.

We saw the Challenger and Columbia memorials, then walked into the Amphitheater itself. Wow, we weren’t expecting what greeted us.

We enjoyed walking around it, then discovered the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier behind it. There was also an indoor exhibit, which we explored for about 15 minutes, before heading back outside and waiting for the ceremony to begin.

The ceremony itself lasted about 10 minutes and is well worth waiting for. It’s very touching and everyone is so respectful, as they should be. You could hear a pin drop.

By the time we got back on to the trolley tour, we decided not to get off at any more stops. We arrived back at the Visitor Centre and decided to head to find the Metro, so we could try and get some food. We’d missed lunch again.

We asked for directions to the Metro from someone who works there, who smiled and asked where we were from. She said she loves the British accent, as we always sound so proper. I told her that we definitely don’t get classed as sounding ‘proper’ at home - coming 20 miles from Birmingham, we’re not known for that!

She gave us directions, and off we went up the road. We’d discovered earlier that we could have got the blue line direct from Foggy Bottom this morning, as our hotel was about half way between two Metro stops. So we went back there, and walked back towards our hotel, looking for a place to grab a snack.

We walked past a Starbucks at just after 4:20 pm - that would do, so grabbed a panini and a sandwich again, then enjoyed them in the sunshine.

We then headed back to the hotel for a bit of downtime, FaceTimed home, then got showered and ready for dinner tonight.

We’d booked a table at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown. We were actually managing to go out! 😂 My eye was still swollen and itchy, so no make up for me. One of my feet also seemed to have a bit of cramp, strangely on the top of it.

As we didn’t know where we were going, and it was dark, we opted for an Uber. It only cost $7.80. It got us there just before our 7:15 pm reservation.

It was mega busy, so we were asked to go to the bar while they got our table ready. We felt a bit in the way though as there was nowhere to stand really. If I’m honest, I’d have preferred to go at a slightly less busy time, or maybe they could remove a table or two in the middle of the room to let people actually move. But no doubt that would affect profits and shows why I’m not in the restaurant business.

We weren’t waiting long before we were seated, but my seat was jutting out into a small walkthrough, so kept getting knocked. I think if you can get seated in one of the small booths around the outside of the room, you’d be absolutely fine.

We ordered drinks - a glass of wine and a pale ale, then looked at the menu. I couldn’t decide what to have and ended up panic ordering when the waiter came back and just ordered fish and chips. Martin ordered salmon.

While we waited, fresh bread was served, but with 2 iced waters, plus our drinks, there wasn’t really any room on the small table for a basket of bread and dish of butter too. I was starting to wish we’d gone to Clyde’s, which had been our other option. I just wasn’t feeling it here.

I have to see the food was actually good, and once some of the side plates and bread basket was removed from the table, and the people standing at the bar were seated, it actually felt less claustrophobic. I would return, I’d just pick my time a bit better.

We declined dessert and asked for the bill, which came to $74. We were going to have a wander round Georgetown, but when we got outside and were deliberating which way to go, we noticed the temperature had dropped significantly. I actually started to have goosebumps. We decided to get a cab back to the hotel and have a drink back in the room instead. We opened the bottle of wine, which we’d put in the fridge the other day, and relaxed on the sofa watching a film. Think we managed to stay up until 11 pm ish tonight!
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Old 5 Nov 19, 08:59 PM  
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How exciting to have visited the pentagon! I didn’t realize so many people worked there!

The cemetery must have been interesting to have seen.

I hope your eyes cleared up.

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2016 Quebec - Kuala Lumpar - New York City 2017 Dubai - Eurocamps France - Ontario and Quebec - So-Cal 2018 Montreal - Bangkok - New England 2019 Argentina - Quebec City - Hong Kong
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Old 5 Nov 19, 09:11 PM  
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The Pentagon tour sounds really interesting, how lucky that the area hit by the plane was under renovation, I had no idea.

Another hot day the weather was great for you.

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Old 6 Nov 19, 01:30 AM  
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I can't believe 26,000 people work at the Pentagon! That's crazy Washington is definitely on our list :0
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Old 13 Nov 19, 02:57 PM  
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Wow, lucky to visit the Pentagon! I didn't even know that was possible.

Your trip is really amazing so far.
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Old 23 Nov 19, 08:12 PM  
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Oh no that’s a bad start with the phone call and poorly eye.
We stayed near DuPont circle, the metro entrance is a challenge!

The Pentagon tour sounds great and Arlington, it’s very humbling isn’t it.

Ah that is annoying if you are getting bumped in the restaurant, it starts to really grate after a while!
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