We are recuperating in our room this evening, watching the news, having some wine and cheese and crackers for supper and catching up on photos and memoirs. It seems as though we have been here for a long time, and yet it’s only Monday, actually only two days here in DC. They have been really full days, for sure. So far, I am greatly surprised by the Capital City of my country. It is beautiful, full of open space, incredibly clean, and inspiring. I had no idea it would be like this. I had heard of crime and heat and humidity, traffic, more crime, and really had no idea that it would be so lovely.
This morning it was breakfast again in the hotel, and we left for town at 8am to catch the 9am Green loop of the Old Town Trolley tours that we signed up for online before we left.
We first traveled through the city to the northwest side and the National Cathedral, perched on one of the highest points in the city. The Cathedral is impressive, with true gothic architecture including the long nave, the tower, and flying buttresses for support. Many presidents have worshipped here and the sanctuary is beautiful. Sometimes when traveling in foreign countries, a saying goes around, "One more gorgeous cathedral" or maybe "one more gorgeous view". Sometimes it's hard to remember just what each cathedral looks like and only a few do stand out. This one was lovely, but not as moving as St Paul's in St Paul, Minnesota even, and probably not even close to St John's in Valetta Malta. But it was a nice big impressive cathedral and quite adequate for a US city. The real surprise, though, was the Bishop's Garden, tucked in at the base of the cathedral and filled with perennials and paths and pagodas that rivaled any I have seen. Truly a gem. The view from the tower was another chance to see how DC is laid out, still something that eludes my normally good sense of direction.
Traveling back toward the city we saw Embassy Row, some quite grand, others a bit worn, and the Iranian embassy quite shabby and empty for the last 18 years. On to the picturesque part of DC called Georgetown, where many of the row houses are less than 8 feet wide in order to reduce the tax footprint which in the early days of the city was based on the width of the home facing the sidewalk.
We got off the trolley to walk the M Street shopping district, explore the old Chesapeake and O Canal and towboats, and walk down to the waterfront. J. Pauls Brewery provided a truly tasty lunch and relaxing time watching the people passing by from our window table. Mo enjoyed a chicken quesadilla that was the best I ever tasted in addition to my own cup of perfect crab soup. We re-boarded the trolley back to downtown and then we switched to the Orange line that travels through the main part of the city, including the Capitol Mall, and used the tour as another way to get oriented to where things were and to plan our next day using the trolley to actually get off at the various stops to view the sights in depth.
We arrived at another transfer point in time to switch to the red line that crossing the Arlington bridge to Arlington Cemetery, and managed to have enough time to see the main parts including the Eternal Flame at John F Kennedy's grave and to walk up the long hills to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Once more I was surprised at how much something in this city moved my deeply. The ceremony of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was impressive and moving, and really quite lovely. Sadly, I learned that the fancy lithium rechargeable battery on my Nikon camera can't handle a full day of sight seeing if I haven't charged up fully the night before, so my photos of the changing of the guard are on my phone. Hopefully I can figure out how to get them on my computer.
Whew. I am tired just writing all this, much less doing it. Dinner tonight is completely unnecessary with such a great lunch, and while I feel very much like a tourist, I am glad for a chance to spend some time here.