I was first in Washington DC more than 20 years ago. And at the time, I had other things on my mind than wandering about. You see, there was this boy…
But let’s get on with it, shall we?
And let’s get the bad over with right away. Bad photo, yes, but, I think, appropriate to illustrate a bad reality: queuing for passport control at Dulles International Airport took two hours. Two hours! Can’t remember the last time I’ve experienced this kind of inefficiency anywhere. Next time, I’ll arrive by train.
I did manage to visit a few of the museums at the Smithsonian last time I was here and still remember the fab Air and Space Museum. Here are two non-Smithsonian – and very quirky – museums. How can one not be curious about an International Spy Museum? And a Museum of Crime and Punishment? Though, ‘stop by’ is hardly the right term. Both are so intriguing. If you’ve got kids with you in DC, the Spy Museum in particular will be a highlight.
I’m drawn down a street by a number of police cars and lively music. (Turned out there’s a Latino festival going on). On the way down the street, I happen to pass the building where Abraham Lincoln spent the last few hours of his life. A visit inside the Ford Theater is now on my list of things to do when next in DC.
She won’t think anything about it
Lincoln’s last words are reputed to be She won’t think anything about it – a reply to his wife who was concerned that a Mrs. Harris might notice the presidential couple holding hands. Rather sweet, I think.
The haunts of George W.
A short distance across the border in Virginia is Alexandria, home of the somewhat reluctant first president, George Washington. He lived at Mount Vernon out in the country but kept a cottage in Alexandria. He ate at the Gadsby Tavern (as did I) and went to this church for Sunday service. I sat in his pew.
Interesting bit of history for sure. However, my favourite discovery in Alexandria was the brilliant water fountains. Gotta love a town which provides easily accessible, clean water for Fido.
Strolling around DC, one can’t miss these imposing monuments to the two presidents…
… and the rows upon rows of graves at Arlington cemetery.
The Kennedy clan is buried here, of course. But I know hardly anything about the more than 400 000 others. Except Ron Brown. He was the first African-American Secretary of Commerce (under Clinton) and he died in a plane crash in Croatia during the Balkan Wars. Other than that, I don’t know much about him either. Yet I found myself looking at his grave for quite some time – one of relatively few grave stones that aren’t white here at Arlington. And as with Greta Garbo, it didn’t feel right to photograph his grave. So I didn’t.
World War III thwarted
My final Instagram is from the Occidental Grill. Stay clear of the drink Smokey and the Bandit (just trust me). Otherwise, it’s a lovely restaurant with good food and history looking right at’cha. The walls are covered with signed photographs of everyone and his cousin: presidents, politicians, journalists, artists, actors, sports personalities and, my favourite, Amelia Earhart. But that’s not all.
In this booth, you see, World War III was thwarted – and a nuclear WWIII at that. Pictured here is news correspondent John Scali, who met with Alexander Fomin from the Soviet embassy at this very table during the Cuban missile crisis. Papers changed hands and war was averted. This is what the brass plaque says:
At this table during the tense moments of the Cuban missile crisis a Russian offer to withdraw missiles from Cuba was passed by the mysterious Russian ‘Mr. X’ to ABC-TV correspondent John Scali. On the basis of this meeting the threat of a possible nuclear war was avoided.
Fascinating stuff, indeed.
I was here in 1997, a long time ago. I didn’t see any of the places you mention here 🙂 I need to go back and explore some more.
The two hour wait at immigrations is unfortunately not out of the ordinary, especially at busy airports.
It’s an interesting city for sure.
I was really surprised by Capitol Hill. So different from the parliaments I’ve seen in Europe. And then there was this POW MiA motorcycle rally going on with lines of stereotyped war veterans. Scary.
Very different from Europe, even the atmosphere.
Great photos 🙂
Nice article! The last time I was there was in the early 70s. I remember Blackies House of Beef where I had a great steak!!!! Before that trip I was there when JFK was laid out to rest. When I traveled I usually never got past NYC!!!
You have a long history with the city, then 🙂
Great photos – you managed to see quite a bit even though you were on a business trip! I haven’t been to Washington for about 16 years – I think it’s about time that I headed back as well. The Spy Museum sounds very interesting!
The Spy Museum is really well set up for kids, too.
great tips and photos! i grew up so close to DC most of my life and i havent seen half of what you just saw. it can really be true that sometimes you know other cities better than your own! would love to check out the spy museum next time im home!
Very true, Megan.
Two hours for passport control is nuts. I wonder if it has anything to do with the government budget. Love the history lesson that goes along with each photo. I’ve heard about the Spy Museum and it’s tops on my list – if I ever make it to Washington.
I was wondering that, too, especially as the budget talks were taking place when I was there. But then I hear others saying there are always long queues at Dulles.
Washington DC is not on my list, but I guess, it has some treasures! I am always keen to explore a photogenic city with great architecture, streets and old-world charm. Washington DC looks like that!
I think it’s one of the more interesting cities in the USA.
Amazing pictures ! USA has more interesting history for sure. I went there five years back, but after reading your blog, I want to go there again.
DC certainly is one of the more interesting cities in the USA.
Great idea for a series of posts! Do I follow you on Instagram?
Thanks. I do like Instagram. 🙂