We just got back from a whirlwind four day weekend in Washington D.C. I am BEAT! We went everywhere, getting around on the Metro, by foot (with a pulled leg muscle - ouch), bus, and once by car... I'll come back to that. Let me just say these two words before I continue: Cherry Blossoms.
'Nuff said. The place was as crowded as Manhattan during Christmas week.
We arrived Thursday, checking into our hotel in Arlington, then grabbed the Metro (D.C.'s very clean, very nice rail/subway system) to the Smithsonian stop. We hoofed it over to the Holocaust Museum, where we'd fortunately purchased our tickets to the permanent exhibit in advance for a buck each. If you are in Washington, this is a must-see, head-shaking, mind-numbing place to visit. It should leave you with these words in your head: Never again.
When we were done, we wandered over to the park around the Washington Monument and checked out the Cherry Blossoms. They are indeed gorgeous, and only in bloom for a couple of weeks. After meandering among the blossoms, we grabbed the metro across to Union Station where we boarded a bus for a 3 1/2 hour "Monuments by Moonlight" tour. We were able to get off and check out these national parks: Jefferson Memorial (breathtaking), FDR Memorial (stirring), Lincoln Memorial (doubly breathtaking), Vietnam War Memorial (sad), Korean War Memorial (equally sad and a little freaky), and finally the World War II memorial (huge).
We wound up taking the metro back to our hotel, getting there close to midnight. The kids were pooped. So were mom and dad.
Friday, we metro'd ourselves over to the U.S. Capital, where we got through security just in time to get on our tour. Having read the Lost Symbol last year, I couldn't wait to see the rotunda, particularly the Apotheosis of Washington. The entire place really blew my mind, and momentarily restored my faith in our elected leaders. Momentarily.
After the tour finished, we hiked over through the sculpture garden beside the National Gallery of Art, and then into the Natural History Museum. We saw dinosaurs. We saw the Hope Diamond. We were rammed in with a million other tourists there for the Cherry Blossom Festival. It wasn't entirely pleasant, but this is an excellent museum. After a brief respite with ice cream from one of a bazillion street vendors, we set out for the Spy Museum, which was AWESOME! This was so much fun, except for our feet aching like you wouldn't believe.
Air and Space Museum. The plan was to do this in the morning, then head over to the American Museum of History, because I wanted to see Archie Bunker's chair. Well, we were plumb tuckered, so we stayed at the Air and Space Museum for a while longer before checking out the sculpture garden at the Hirshhorn Museum. The wife loves these things and they do have some interesting sculptures, including some by Rodin.
Saturday night was the most stressful and most fun. After dinner, we were going to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Ford Theater! Yes, the Ford Theater, where Lincoln was assassinated.
This.... is not from the Ford Theater.
We got down into the metro station below our hotel and waited. And waited. And heard the announcements that the Pentagon stop was closed due to a police situation. There was a shooting of some kind at that stop and that for the next 1 1/2 hours, no trains would be going through. So, we had no way of taking the train. The hotel told us not to drive to the theater, because it's the Cherry Blossom Festival!!!! We couldn't get a cab, so armed with the family truckster, we ventured from the hotel anyway. The directions were bad, and we went around and around in Arlington for quite some time until we found our way.
Let me just say this. Yes, there was traffic. But, I'm used to driving in New York City for pete's sake! This was nothing. In fact, I got the brood there just in time. I, meanwhile, parked and missed the opening song, but they sat me shortly after. The show was great - I highly recommend it. What a great time - great music, funny, beautiful little theater. The presidential balcony is still there, by the way. And, we found our way back to the hotel.
This very morning, we set off for home, stopping at the National Zoo for some Panda time. That was cool. They are cute and cuddly, are they not?
And now I am exhausted and my feet are killing me.