Should you judge a city before you have seen it all?
You'll remember from what are the ingredients of a fabulous holiday? that I have not long been back from a visit to the East coast of America, visiting Washington D.C., New York and Boston. I was very excited to be making my first visit to Washington D.C. as it was one of the cities that I have wanted to visit, having heard great reports from SBA and LBA on their last visit a couple of years ago. Having spent time looking at the places I wanted to visit, I was armed with my list and my pop up map. Not really knowing what to expect, I wasn't enamored with the city on the route from the airport to our hotel. It didn't capture me, but as they say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. What did strike us on this initial journey was how much building work was taking place. There were numerous large cranes doted around, with new buildings being constructed and renovations taking place.
As we got towards our hotel, the architecture of the buildings started to change and there were also lots of trees lining spacious pavements. Our hotel was situated a few minutes walk from Capitol Hill at the top end of The Mall. I really liked this area of D.C. and unlike New York you could walk along the pavement and not bump into anyone. I think this is what I will remember most about D.C. the sense of space and the quiet nature. Don't get me wrong, along The Mall there were lots of people, but due to the size of the pavements, they just never felt crowded.
Our hotel was very well positioned not only did we get a fantastic view of the Capitol Building every night, but it was a short five or so minutes walk from the underground at Union Station, restaurants and shops in China town and the start of The Mall. Due to this we ended up doing a lot of walking and only took a cab once (and that was only because I thought it was going to rain heavily again - see below), and used the underground on two occasions. I must admit this is the best underground I have been on, just as spacious as above ground and fairly cool, impressive as temperatures were over 100 degrees.
The layout of D.C. is great with all of the tourist attractions being very close together. Looking from Capitol Hill straight in front of you is The Mall where all of the museums are situated, walking down to the National Mall and Memorial Parks and across the Potomac river to Arlington Cemetery. The White House is opposite the Washington Monument at the bottom of The Mall. A 15 minute or so walk from Pennsylvania Avenue you'll find China Town, where there are more museums, Ford's Theatre and the Petersen House.
During the four and a half days we were in D.C. we packed in a lot of sight seeing. I ticked off everything on my list of things and places I wanted to see (posts to follow). There was even time for a half day of shopping! Two of the areas in D.C. that I really liked were George Town and China Town. We spent all but one night in China Town, you are certainly spoilt for choice with a variety restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and shops. The part nearest the White House and the museums was again very leafy and had a real community feel about it. As you walked through and got deeper in, the small boutiques and cafes turned into high street stores and restaurants. George Town is a university town and the minute you step out from the underground you get a real sense of community and belonging. I loved the main street and the streets that run of this, with character houses sitting effortlessly against cafes, boutiques, designer stores and a scattering of restaurants. This is the one place in D.C. that I could happily live, especially with Washington Harbour being a stones through away.
While we were in America, the East Coast was experiencing the warmest summer for a long time, temperatures in D.C. were high 90's and even topped over 100 degrees. Without warning, we did witness a mini tornado, which saw trees uprooted, electricity turn off, and numerous objects flying through the air. We were lucky, we had just waved off friends and been in the hotel 20 minutes before it started. Our friends were driving back to Fredericksburg and had to dodge trees and objects of the freeway, but thankfully they got home safe. It was a little scary to say the least.
When we left D.C., en route to New York, I really started to miss it, especially the open spaces and the relaxed pace. If you are looking for a cultural holiday in a place that is easy to get around, then D.C. should be on your 'Places To Visit' list.
Washington D.C. ........... a great place!
Lula Belle x