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Unread 2 Nov 19, 12:14 PM  
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jocat
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Five Days in Washington DC - Day 1 - 26/10/19 - White House tour and memorials galore

Day 1 - Saturday 26th October 2019

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The alarm went off at 5:30 am - today would be the only day we had to set our alarm, but as we needed to be at the White Hour by 7:15 am for our tour at 7:30 am, setting the alarm was a necessity.

Youd think with the time difference, that we might be up anyway. Im not sure I would have. Id slept really well but could still have slept for longer. Martin, on the other hand, had slept badly. Not sure why, as the bed was really comfy. He does have a strong body clock though - he first woke at 11:15 pm, and with the UK equivalent time being 4:15 am, that is his normal getting up time for work. Not normally at a weekend though.

We both showered and got ready. There wasnt much we needed this morning, as we werent allowed to take much with us, only our passports, our phones and Martins wallet. I couldnt even take a tiny handbag.

We had breakfast in the room, as the included hotel breakfast didnt start until 7am. We got some fruit, granola and orange juice out of the fridge, but I decided it was a bit too early to eat and put my fruit away - I might come to regret that decision later!



We left our room at 6:43 am and got the lift to the lobby. I was a bit taken aback as I walked outside - it was still dark. I knew the walk to the White House would take about half an hour, but as they were streets I was unfamiliar with, when I spotted a taxi waiting close to the hotel, I suggested that we jump in it. It took us about 10 minutes to get there, and our taxi dropped us off at the Treasury Building. There were quite a few people already there. As we were a bit early, we could see the Washington Monument lit up just down the road, so we started to walk towards it to try and get some arty photos.

The Monument was obscured by the trees, and when we reached a bit of a clearing
and could see it again, we discovered it was no longer lit up. The lights must get turned off at 7 am. At that point, we ditched our plan and walked back to the crowd waiting to take their tour.

We were asked to line up in single file against the wall, before being granted access to the grounds just before 7:15 am. We had to show our Tour Booking paperwork to gain access, we then waited for a while in Shermans Plaza, which is part of Presidents Park. The person in charge at the time gave out tour leaflets and then did a short talk giving an introduction the White House. He told us there are 36 bathrooms in the White House and none of them are for tour groups. He did direct anyone who needed a restroom to the Visitor Centre across the road.

At exactly 7:30 am, Secret Service Officers came outside to open up the security entrances and we were let in. We went through several security checkpoints, and had to show our passports twice as part of this process. There was then a short walk until we entered the White House via the East Wing entrance lobby.



There were several photographs exhibited here, along with some portraits on the wall. We managed to get a glimpse of the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden through the windows, and were surprised to spot some goalposts in it.













There was an announcement stating that as we were the first group of the day, wed be given a guided tour. Most tours are usually self-guided. We were told to gather at the Gift Shop ahead, and wed be setting off in a few minutes.

The tour was led by a female Secret Service Officer, who seemed a little nervous at times - Im not surprised with the amount of information she shared with us about the contents and history of each room. Ive no idea how she remembered it all.













We moved upstairs and through the imaginatively named Green Room, Blue Room and Red Room - bet you cant guess which are which in my photos! 😂 We were lucky enough to be on the side of the room with the windows, so got some great views outside too.















The final room we visited was the State Dining Room, then all too soon our tour was over and it was time to leave. It had only taken an hour, and we obviously werent allowed near any parts of the West Wing, but we were glad to have had the opportunity to see the rooms we did.























We decided to walk the short distance towards the Washington Monument, to see if we could get tickets. About 300 tickets are held back for walk ups each day, only going on sale at 8:30 am each morning. However, the Monument had been closed for 3 years and has only just reopened, therefore tickets are high in demand at the moment. We joined the queue, but by 8:50 am, all of the tickets for the day had gone. Goodness knows what time you have to start queuing to get some.



We decided to walk towards the Reflecting Pool, calling at the World War II Memorial first. We loved the view across the fountains with the Lincoln Memorial in the background. It was also pretty spectacular looking the other way too, with the Washington Monument in the background.



























We continued our walk alongside the Reflecting Pool, and climbed the steps to view the sculpture of Lincoln himself. By this time, it wasnt even 10 am and Id only got 20% battery life left on my phone. We looked at our plan for the day, along with the map, and decided to view the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and then head back towards the hotel to get my battery pack for my phone, stopping to get something to eat on the way.







We had a lovely walk back, wandering through the streets around George Washington University. We soon came across a Starbucks - it was now almost 11am and I was starving, so that would do. We ordered a Turkey and pesto panini, a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough, a muffin to share and a bottle of water. Our brunch cost us $18.81 and definitely filled a gap.







We continued on to our hotel, making a brief stop at Whole Foods for a bottle of wine, some more fruit and some crisps for the room. We arrived back just before midday and were surprised to see that wed walked 12000 steps already.

We put our phones on charge, had a soft drink and relaxed for a couple of hours, before heading back out to explore.

Just before leaving the hotel, we looked how far it was to get to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. It showed it would be a 50 minute walk, so we booked an Uber which arrived within 2 minutes.





We arrived at the memorial and soon saw it was covered in scaffolding. We were still able to go in though. We then moved on to walk around the Tidal Basin, towards the other memorials. As we walked, we noticed a memorial fountain across the road, so went to have a look. It was the George Mason memorial, who wrote the very first Declaration of Rights in 1776, which formed the basis for the Declaration of Independence.





We continued on to the Franklin D Roosevelt memorial, or should I say memorials, as there are several of them, each marking one of his four terms in office, before visiting the Martin Luther King Jr memorial.



















We crossed the road and then found the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The light seemed really vivid around here and I loved the photos I was able to take.







We then found ourselves back near the Reflecting Pool and close to the Washington Monument again. We decided to walk back up towards the White House and get some photos from the other side to that which wed been this morning.









We hadnt been there very long, when Secret Service officers closed off the area and ordered everyone to leave. Presumably the President was scheduled to either depart or arrive. We did manage to snap a quick photo of the Christmas Tree that had just been erected. No decorations though yet. Its probably a bit early. 😂



We moved on and decided to try and get some food. It was only about 4:45 pm, but we didnt have much luck locally. We tried to get a table at the nearby Old Ebbit Grill, but the wait was at least an hour.



We decided to head back towards the hotel via Lafayette Park and try to find somewhere to eat as we went. We looked to see if we could make a reservation elsewhere, but most of the restaurants on our list of possibles were unavailable for the same day, or we felt we were too underdressed to go there. We eventually found Cafe Deluxe, which was just a block away from our hotel, and was seated there at around 5:40 pm.

My word we were thirsty! I ordered a glass of wine, a Diet Coke, plus I had a glass of iced water too. Martin had an IPA and a water.





We ordered our food. I had a grilled chicken sandwich, which came served with bacon, cheese and tomato, and Martin had a crab cake with potatoes and vegetables. We declined dessert and made the short walk back to our room after settling the bill of $78 inclusive of tip.







Sitting down had done me no favours at all - my calves felt like they had seized up. We checked Martins watch to find wed walked 26000 steps today - goodness knows what it would have been if we hadnt had the two taxis.

Once back at the hotel, the evening drinks reception was still on, so we ordered a drink each from the bar and took it back to our room. I have never been so glad to get my boots off!

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and watching a film, before giving in to the tiredness and going to bed at about 9 pm.

Edited at 12:34 PM.
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Unread 2 Nov 19, 03:29 PM  
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Wow - how amazing to firstly go into the White House and then to see all those memorials. The Korean Veterans one is stunning and not one I have seen before.

I am not surprised you were tired after all that walking! I hope you both slept well!
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Unread 2 Nov 19, 03:47 PM  
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Great report, we had a self guided tour of the Whitehouse last year, its amazing isnt it?

We only had 2 days in Washington, its a fabulous city, so much to see and do, well definitely be back.
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Unread 2 Nov 19, 06:50 PM  
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What a great day. How amazing you got to go on the White House Tour, I know you don't get to see the main bits but still quite exciting!
A lovely walk around all the memorials, they are all so individual and interesting in their own way
A shame about not finding somewhere for dinner but the place you found eventually looked really nice
I bet your feet were really sore doing all those steps!
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Unread 5 Nov 19, 08:58 PM  
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The White House tour does seem fab. Great that you can take photos. I love the imaginatively named rooms too. Our guide in the Capitol said a similar thing about imaginatively named rooms as we went into a room named the statue room. What a fab day. You did well to do all those memorials around the tidal basin as well as the war memorials. We never did get to Martin Luther King Jr in the daylight, but it was good at night.
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Unread 9 Nov 19, 01:43 PM  
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
Wow - how amazing to firstly go into the White House and then to see all those memorials. The Korean Veterans one is stunning and not one I have seen before.

I am not surprised you were tired after all that walking! I hope you both slept well!
I think this was my favourite day of the trip actually. I definitely slept well.

Originally Posted by ILoveLeith View Post
Great report, we had a self guided tour of the Whitehouse last year, its amazing isnt it?

We only had 2 days in Washington, its a fabulous city, so much to see and do, well definitely be back.
Yes, I loved being able to go in the White House. We felt so lucky to have the opportunity.

I can see why youll have to go back. Theres just so much to see, that theres no way you can see much in just 2 days.

Originally Posted by smithlane View Post
What a great day. How amazing you got to go on the White House Tour, I know you don't get to see the main bits but still quite exciting!
A lovely walk around all the memorials, they are all so individual and interesting in their own way
A shame about not finding somewhere for dinner but the place you found eventually looked really nice
I bet your feet were really sore doing all those steps!
We were so excited about the White House and we loved wandering around the memorials too.

We definitely failed with our research about restaurants, but we just didnt know what areas wed be in at which times.

Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
The White House tour does seem fab. Great that you can take photos. I love the imaginatively named rooms too. Our guide in the Capitol said a similar thing about imaginatively named rooms as we went into a room named the statue room. What a fab day. You did well to do all those memorials around the tidal basin as well as the war memorials. We never did get to Martin Luther King Jr in the daylight, but it was good at night.
I loved the White House, and it was great to find the film White House Down on the tv a couple of nights later, and spot the rooms that wed been in, even though I know it wasnt really filmed there.

Im still gutted that we didnt get chance to go back and see the memorials at night.
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Unread 10 Nov 19, 09:45 AM  
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Fabulous day. Love your Whitehouse tour and seeing all the memorials. Wow to all those steps but you saw so much ! Its made me realise how much we didnt see on our short trip. We must go back 😉

Dinner looked nice but seems a bit pricey ?
I hope you both got a good nights sleep after all that walking .
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Unread 13 Nov 19, 02:25 PM  
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What a great day! I loved Washington when we went, and we also found it hard to find restaurants!
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