Thursday, 8 November 2012


I've been in wintry DC (it's bitterly cold with a North Easterly wind off the Chesapeake) for a day and half now and I'm still behaving like a child in Disneyland - there's so much that I want to see and do it's hard to prioritise.  I have however had to dig deep into the depths of my battered and dirty rucsac to find some warm clothes - having been spoiled by t-shirt weather in Houston and Bentonville I suppose I should just see this as a useful acclimatisation process for getting back to Nottingham. 

I'm staying just over the Key Bridge from Georgetown so I've been making the most of the bars, restaurants and shops (some good Christmas gift opportunities) just over the river while spending most of the daytime in downtown DC seeing all the monuments, museums and sights.  I'd like to pretend that this is an extension of my Company Towns research topic (DC being the ultimate company town for government), but in reality it's a totally self-indulgent time for me to wallow in all the political and cultural things going on.  And I'm loving it! 

I started off the day with a Segway Tour of the major sights.  I was a bit sceptical of this - wasn't sure if it would be a bit corny or if I'd injure myself on the machine but I can't recommend it enough - huge fun and a great way to see the city.  We covered about eight miles in around three hours and it was much more fun than walking and enabled you to see more of the city.  It was freezing cold as you whizz along at up to 10mph (don't forget your gloves like I did!) but the sights make up for it.  

Roughly speaking the tour covers: OEOB, The White House, The National Archives, The Naval Memorial, The Capitol, The National Mall and all the museums, The Lincoln, Washington and MLK Jr Memorials, The Vietnam and Korean War Memorial and lots else besides.  Plus you get to do some "off-roading" on the Segway and enjoy some good banter with your fellow tourists.  

The Capitol Building - can't wait for my tour tomorrow

The Washington Monument looms over everything you see in DC

Vietnam War Memorial still incredibly moving even on a repeat visit

After that and a warming lunch I decided to check out the view across the whole city available from the top of the tower of the Old Post Office.  Apparently this building has been sold to Donalt Trump to redevelop as a hotel.  This'll probably be better than its current slightly sad incarnation as sort of shopping centre and dusty tourist attraction but my opinion of the bewigged one has gone down significantly following his unhinged election night outburst on twitter.  

I then went on to the National Archives where you can see the original Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights; along with a huge amount of other stuff.  I loved the exhibition about the Cuban Missile Crisis: it really illuminated something I'd only previously read about in books with contemporary documents, recordings and photographs.  The usual over-abundance of school-children only slightly dampened my enthusiasm for the place with its powerful sense of history.  

Finally (I was dragging my feet like a recalcitrant tweenager at this point) I popped into the Smithsonian Institute Castle to make sure that I'd identified all the places within the huge SI network that I wanted to see.  There's a great ten minute video (only slightly spoilt by being hosted by Ben Stiller) that outlines all the options so I've now got a clear plan for tomorrow.  

Need to get to bed now as I've got an early start for my tour of the Capitol tomorrow - can't wait!

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