Things to consider when visiting DC: (1) You will do a lot of walking so wear comfortable shoes. (2) Stay at least a week. You won't get to all the tourist spots and museums in a day. (3) Take the Metro because parking in the city is mad expensive. (4) Take lots of snacks, water, packed lunches, and/or eat outside the city, because the McDonald's in the Air & Space museum alone would set you back $40.
The last week of March was when we planned on driving from Jacksonville, FL to Washington DC, the Nation’s capital. We drove 726.6 miles (1169.349 km), 12 hours and 13 minutes. It wasn’t too bad. The night before I don’t think I slept, but I did my usual last minute packing. I managed to take an hour’s nap at around 4am. My dad emphasized we need to leave at 5am, but as Filipino time goes it wasn’t ‘til around 6am that we finally set on our way. We didn’t stop over much except for the rest areas and to get lunch in North Carolina. (Next road trip I go on, I promise to take a picture at every stop we make to document the entire trip.)
Trust me, the whole month I’ve been impatiently planning every picture I would take with each camera. I brought my Konica C35 EF, Holga 120N, Fisheye 2, and don’t get mad at me fellow Lomographers, my Canon DSLR. The film I brought was mostly color negative, redscale, and black and white. To be specific: Kodak BW400CN, Fuji Superia 200, and Lomography Redscale. I had just purchased around 10 rolls with my saved up piggie points so I was all set!
Since my dad is a chief in the US Navy, he managed to score us a place in the Air Force base just outside of Washington DC. My two friends who have been to DC before kind of gave me a crash course on where to park, eat, and visit. They also emphasized that there will be a lot of walking; but being the girl I am, I brought “cute” shoes rather than “comfortable walking” shoes. I loved going in March because it was still winter in DC. Oh how I love my winter outfits!
Honestly, I was afraid to ride the Metro just as much as I am afraid to ride a plane. I guess it was from watching “end of the world” movies like “The Knowing” where they predicted 81 people dying in the subway accident. Stupid movies. I’m never watching those again! Anyway, back on the topic: the Metro wasn’t too bad. It was a fun experience. The Metro would start underground and sometimes go above ground which was cool!
We parked our vehicular at Pentagon City mall and took the Metro, which was located at the Food Court level. Using the machines to get our tickets was a new thing. So many buttons and words. (again, I wish I took a picture of just how many) We had to get the help of one of the workers there. Apparently, it was just about $2 for a one-way ride depending on what time it is. Not bad right? No, not at all.
We took a 15min-ride into the city on the last day. The best thing to do is if you, like us, spend an entire day in the city, then you should buy the One Day Metrorail Pass. At $9 a piece, it was the best thing my family could have gotten. You can hop on and hop off at any station for the whole day. In the end, I looked passed the scary movie thoughts and just enjoyed the ride. I had a backpack to carry my things, book, and umbrella in hand, thick jacket and scarf on, I felt like a true local DC girl. If you have an iPhone, download the “DCRider” and “Ride DC Metro” apps. “DC Rider” gives you a map of all the lines while “Ride DC Metro” gives you a trip planner and real-time arrival/departing times for the trains. If you don’t have an iPhone, I’m sure Droid and Blackberry has apps for that.
The Washington Monument was the first thing we saw. To get to the Washington Monument, what we did is park at Pentagon City Mall, rode the Metro, take the Blue line and got off at Federal Triangle. The monument was just around the corner. I have to say it was amazing. I’d only seen the monument in pictures and in movies like “National Treasure.” To see it up close was really amazing. I heard you can go inside the monument and take an elevator to the top, but we didn’t do that. We just walked around admiring the scenery. There was a discussion whether we’d want to walk to the Lincoln memorial. Thankfully, we decided right.
The Washington Monument was kind of the center of all things. West of the Washington Monument was the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool. It was bad timing when my family and I went because construction workers were renovating the Reflecting Pool. The Pool was drained so it was not really a sight to see.
The walk wasn’t too bad. Just a very scenic 10-minute walk alongside the Reflecting Pool lined with trees. It was winter, so the trees weren’t very green. We finally got to the Lincoln Memorial and the building is truly historic. This Greek inspired building not only has a large sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, it also has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963 during the rally at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
You walk into the room and it’s just too much to take in. It was kind of emotional for me because of the history behind this man. In the rooms next to the main were large engravings of what seem to be speeches. One famous speech was, “Four score and seven years ago..” That was the only one I recognized.
Upon leaving the memorial, I decided to have some fun on the steps. I told my mom to take a jumping picture of me on the steps of Lincoln. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t know if I could get the picture on film, so my Canon was the man for the job. All my mom had to do was hold down the shutter release button because it was set on continuous shooting and I just jumped.
Vietnam War Memorial
To the left of the Lincoln Memorial was the Vietnam War Memorial. This was on my to-do list. I wanted to get that perfect picture. Someone laying flowers, rubbing the names, or praying. I don’t know what was wrong with me because I didn’t get it. It was only after coming home that I saw some sample pictures of the wall. One person took a long exposure at night with the Washington Monument reflected in the wall. As much as I loved traveling with my family, I didn’t get the time that I needed to frame my shots. It was quick and go. I did manage to get a good shot with my DSLR.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum was located in the National Mall (which, to my disappointment, really isn’t a mall). This was my mom’s choice. Only because it housed the Hope Diamond. 45.52 carats of deep blue deliciousness. My mom went crazy! The diamond was as big as…well, it was big! Haha… After that, the rest of the exhibits were “okay.”
US Botanical Gardens
On our last day we decided to visit the US Botanical Gardens. Just about 3/4 of a mile from the L’enfant Plaza Metro Station, it wasn’t too bad of a walk for me, but for grandmother, it was quite a walk. She had knee surgery about a year ago and it prevents her from walking long distances. I felt so bad because I chose to visit the gardens and said “it wasn’t that far of a walk.” She kept stopping to rest, but we finally made it to the gardens and she loved it! There were such beautiful flowers and shrubs. The main green room was a replica of a rainforest with the canopy level and everything. There was a desert plant room which had all kinds of cacti and desert shrubs. The one room that was mine, my mother’s, and my grandmother’s was the Orchid Room. They were so pretty! I mostly took shots with my Canon DSLR, but I got quite a few good shots on film.
Air and Space Museum
The Air and Space Museum was my favorite! Then again we only went to two museums, but this museum was featured in the movie “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” The history of the aircraft is definitely something to read up on. Huge rockets towering the space gallery. All kinds of airplanes dangling from the ceiling. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good planetarium show, so we decided to catch two shows. One was called “Journey to the Stars” narrated by Whoopie Goldberg. It talked about how stars were formed and what they were made of. As entertaining as it was, that’s not how stars were formed. The second show was in IMAX 3D about the Hubble Telescope. This movie was definitely worth watching in IMAX 3D. You really get the weight of how dangerous the mission was to go up in space and repair the telescope. Plus, seeing the pictures Hubble took of space was awe-inspiring on the big, BIG screen.
Perhaps one day when I have enough money, I will go back to DC for a couple of days and take in all the sights I wanted to see!