From my journal, dated December 19th 2012
So I was sitting in the Washington DC airport at the Starbucks and wondering what I was going to do for the next 8 hours. Then I thought, why not go into the city? You have time, but it would be at risk (like with the danger of getting lost and/or not making it back on time). I emailed my parents to ask their opinion, but didn’t wait for a reply; I left.
My parents had given me $20 US dollars. It cost $6 to take the bus into town, each way. Actually I just missed the bus, so I waited 40 minutes for the next one. The ride was around 45 minutes.
I’m writing this now, before I forget what I saw and what it felt like. I didn’t have a camera – not even my phone camera.
Off the bus, I correctly guessed which direction to walk and ended up at the National Mall, which is the giant mall of fields and pathways that’s surrounded by all the iconic Washington buildings + monuments. Even from a distance, they were all amazing. I briefly walked into the Smithsonian Castle, which I guess is one of the buildings owned by the Smithsonian Museum. I saw Bobby Orr’s skates, as well as a piece of the Hindenburg and a piece of the Wright brothers’ plane. I then discovered that I could take (awkward self portrait) photos with my laptop. I did that multiple times while walking up to the Washington Monument. Behind it was the iconic reflecting pool that stretches all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. That Memorial was astounding. It was giant and the pillars were probably almost 2 metres across. It was made out of gorgeous white stone (marble?) and in the centre sat a larger-than-life statue of Lincoln. On one of the walls was inscribed one of his speeches (“my fellow countrymen…”) and I read it out loud. The whole place seemed so impressive and symbolic and important and huge. I bought a postcard for $0.80 – I didn’t want to leave D.C. without a souvenir.
Then I went off to find the White House and it took me awhile, because, well, a lot of the buildings are white. I found it.
Then, after making sure I had enough money, I bought a soft pretzel from a stand on the street for $2.50. I began to make my way back to the bus stop; I had walked a long way. I wanted to catch the 1:25 p.m. bus to make certain I would have plenty of time at the airport.
I had no idea where exactly the bus stop for the way back was, and I had to ask 3 locals before finding it. I climbed on the bus with 15 minutes to spare.