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Unread 5 Jun 19, 11:04 AM  
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Princess Alison
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Join Date: Jan 09
Washington DC for memorial weekend

Not a full-on trip report, but some thoughts from our recent trip, which we thoroughly enjoyed!

So we had some air miles to use up - that incidentally have taken about 10 years to accrue. The deadline to spend them was approaching, so we thought we would have a weekend away - without the kids - in Washington!

Well we flew out a week ago on Friday and came back early Tuesday morning, the bank holiday weekend.

I thought I'd share some memories from our weekend, which turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable and I'd recommend Washington.

Thursday
We stayed over at Heathrow the night before, to keep things less stressful. DH works in London so I met him at Victoria and we took the tube - LOOOONG journey, but we had the time!

We stayed at the premier inn - easy to walk to from the tube and a good restaurant to boot. Plus the room was comfy, no surprises so all good. Annoyingly I had a work conference call at 7pm, which took about an hour, but once that was done with, we could relax.

Friday

Our flight wasn't until 11.15am - virgin - so we got up at a pretty leisurely pace and made our way to the terminal.

First to check in, which was pretty chronic actually. The machines to check in were quick enough, but bag drop which implies something fairly swift was glacial. A virgin assistant told us that Heathrow have put in place a policy whereby bag drop is no longer staffed. Im not sure why, and certainly there were plenty of staff milling around, but no-one at the desk. So lots of people checking in bags, peeling off long stickers and not knowing how to apply them to their bags! Made it through eventually, and security was fine, but feeling hungry as a result.

So our next priority was breakfast - scrambled egg on toast and coffee. I listened in to Theresa May's resignation speech! I'm not a great fan, but Ill certainly be looking out for her self-help book when it's released, she seems to have a lot of experience in staying self-motivated.

I realised I'd forgotten my scarf, so we popped into Monsoon to grab a new one. Stripey pink and white perhaps not one Id choose if I had a few hours, but its warm. Then off to the gate where we were met with a long queue sorry if I seem to be moaning a bit, but the queuing was a bit unexpected. Still we bumped into a chap from Washington and had a good chat about sites and Trump and the like, so time moved pretty swiftly.

Once on the plane, we settled in. I watched the Queen film very good! and gave up on A Star is Born not so good then watched friends. The food was actually really good, especially the afternoon tea prior to landing. So the flight was good.

Landing brought more queuing sadly despite landing at about 3pm US time, there were only 2 people at immigration! So.I reckon it took about 1.5 hours to get through. And we felt tired by then so we decided to take a taxi to the hotel, which wasnt cheap but was direct and easy.

We were staying at the Hyatt Grand just se of the Mall, about a 7 minute walk from the Capitol building. En route, we of course got our first glimpse of the monument and just about the white house.

Highlights of the trip:

The weather it was 80-90 degrees throughout! Thank goodness Id rechecked the weather as initially Id typed in Washington and picked up the weather for Washington, Cumbria! (15 degrees!).

Forrest Gump our first evening coincided with the 25th anniversary of the release of Forrest Gump, a film we both really like, and Paramount had organised a free open air viewing on the Mall complete with drinks, popcorn and blankets! And the producer to open it. So after a stroll along The Mall, and to the Washington Monument (beautiful) and past the Reflecting Pool (loved this) and to the Lincoln Memorial, we headed to the showing, in our tired state, and stayed to watch the movie. Magical with the monument just behind the screen.

Washington Monument it was actually closed for works during our stay, so we couldnt go up, but it really was stunning. Perhaps because its so iconic?

The reflecting pool deserves its own mention again because its so iconic and just felt surreal to be walking alongside. There were also huge numbers of ducklings, many of which were out with the mother duck on the edge of the pool. Just gorgeous.

Lincoln Memorial really interesting and massive and standing on the Martin Luther King stone and looking out was very special.
War memorials near the reflecting pool there was a special exhibition of those who had been killed or missing in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was surprised by the sheer number. It was very moving. As was the Vietnam memorial, which we visited on Memorial Day. The names are engraved into a dark stone and lots of people were making a rubbing of their relatives name, which was touching. The Korean memorial was really evocative, with statues of the soldiers in situ as if in the midst of battle.

Capitol we didnt go inside as we hadnt booked anything in advance. We wanted to wander at will and so did no advance planning! It was an attractive building, but like much of the architecture, felt somehow too clean! There are tours for free which are best booked in advance.

White House It really is very lovely to look at. There are good views from the back but the front is a bit harder to glimpse. A few spots nearby and then from the mall. The White House Visitor centre was definitely worth a visit for the film show at the very least.

Arlington Cemetery we visited on the Saturday missed Donald Trump by one day! mainly because we thought it would be very busy on memorial weekend Sunday. Was still very busy, largely with
Rolling Thunder, the veteran group from all over the states, who had motorcycled into town in readiness for their final (?) ride through Washington. Lots of wreath laying going on at the tomb of the unknown soldier. We also stopped by the space shuttle memorials and JKF. We didnt take the tour, we walked, which was a bit hilly and v hot in the heat!

911 memorial at the Pentagon. Beautifully done with benches over reflecting pools, one for each victim. The position of the name denoted whether the person had died in the building or on the plane. Well worth a visit.

Pentagon no photos allowed here but worth seeing and for the 911 memorial.

Museum of America we prioritised the ruby slippers and the star spangled banner, which were both worth seeing.

Natural History Museum for the elephant, the rotunda and the Hope Diamond. We had a quick schmooze around the dinosaurs and the mummies too.

National Gallery of Art prioritised the De Vinci and Monet, but ended up seeing a whole lot more including Van Gogh, Constable, Cezanne etc. Worth a visit just for the fountain in the middle!

Fords Theatre we had a walk past, tickets to tour were sold out for the day!

National Air and Space museum Amelia Earharts plane, the Wright brothers plane, sputnik, Star Trek Model.

Eating out So actually in the main Mall area, eating is fairly limited they bring out these food vans every day Petes kebobs and chicken sandwiches! We ventured out to Georgetown on the metro one evening as it was recommended in the guidebook. It was very olde England in appearance (!) and lots of Italian restaurants. We didnt fancy that so ended up a Michelin starred Ethiopian restaurant, which was very nice and very different!; One another occasion, we headed up to Adams Morgan area and over to 18th Street, which was well worth a stroll. Lots of boutique shops and cafes. We found a nice Mexican so had burritos for lunch.

The metro Really easy to use and spotless. Best for buying a day ticket or 5 day if you are there longer. The trains are about 8 minutes apart, so you have to wait a bit sometimes.

Dulles Airport the airport was fine apart from the queue for immigration on landing. Maybe that was just bad luck? Anyway, we got a taxi to the hotel on arrival, which was not cheap. There is a shared van you can get which I suspect is cheaper. On the way home, we took the metro to Wiehle-Reston Station (took us about 40 mins from Federal Center SW on the silver line) and then you get out, go down the escalator to the bus terminal and wait for a silverline bus (all labelled). The wait was about 8 minutes and then the journey was about 15 mins to arrivals where it was all signposted as to where to go. The metro ticket cost about $3.50 each and the bus was $5 each I think. You pay for the bus once youve arrived and just before you enter the terminal. Lots of shops at dulles and a few places to eat. All seemed very civilised. The other airport obviously is much closer and on the metro line, but didnt match our dates flying-wise.

The people we found people to be very friendly. On two occasions we asked policeman for directions and they could not have been more helpful and chatty.

In all, we LOVED Washington. It was a great weekend and Im very pleased we decided to go.

Edited at 11:07 AM.
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Unread 5 Jun 19, 11:42 AM  
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2point
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Excellent info. Thanks for posting. We'll be there 4th September this year, flying up from Orlando.
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Unread 5 Jun 19, 02:12 PM  
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Lola
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We loved Washington. The bus tour of the monuments ar night was really something. Plus the zoo is free, as are all the Smithsonian sites. The Metro was a good way to get around.
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Unread 5 Jun 19, 11:16 PM  
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jocat
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Thanks so much for posting this. Were visiting DC for the first time in October, so will be using your report to help us plan what to do.
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Unread 7 Jun 19, 01:00 PM  
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Glee Fan
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Great report Alison, we have planned to do lots of the things you did, so really useful and interesting to read.

Thank you!
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Unread 7 Jun 19, 01:01 PM  
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anji
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Washington is definitely on our list of places to go. Thanks so much for such concise information - a great trip!
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