29th November 2016 – was the day I decided to be a super tourist and ventured off to Washington DC for a few hours of strolling and photo taking.
Qais kept reinforcing that I couldn’t be so close to Washington and not visit it, he had a point. He wanted to join but had classes, so after getting ready in the morning I called my taxi guy. It was the same taxi man that I had been using for the last few days so he of course did the whole “what to look out for” speech, gave me advice on how to “hide my money” from pickpockets and went on about how much he despises Washington DC LOL.
I caught the Blue Line train and settled down for the 40 minute ride before I switched trains to continue my journey to Union Station. I had mapped everything out on my phone, made note of places I wanted to see and knew which train I would take back. I arrived without a hitch and was feeling all kinds of proud of myself. Washington DC here is Mai!
The first sight I was greeted by was the Liberty Bell replica in front of Union Station which, made me go into “tourist mode” and out came the camera. Just down the road (a few good meters away) I spotted Capital Building (you really can’t miss it), so onward I went.
To my surprise I saw a squirrel! I was super pleased to see the little furry fellow and again out came the camera. I wanted to get close but was worried I would scare him/her away. To my surprise the squirrel started heading in my direction! Now I was sure I would get attacked or something but I took photos nonetheless. I quickly realized that there were tons of squirrels everywhere so the novelty wore off after a while. I actually had one follow me while I was marching back to the station! (Squirrels like me :D) .
The park along the way stretched on for ages, the trees were so beautiful (even those without any leaves) then while I was walking it started to rain! I of course did not have an umbrella or raincoat (actually do not own one) so there I was marching in the cold wet weather, determined to explore and take photos. After getting sick of walking in the drizzle I made my way to a little food shack. Hot chocolate was had (at first) and then I decided I was hungry so Nachos accompanied it.
Once the rain/drizzle stopped I continued. My useless phone I bought while in the States had a shady battery so I quickly realized I was running out of juice and never like that kind of situation when I am away from places and people I know. I decided that I would save my battery and “wing it”, follow signs, ask people and “make note” of roads to find my way back. I knew I had to see the White House so I just kept going…in the wrong direction LOL.
I of course saw a lot the other tourist attractions during my walk: the Library of Congress, The Supreme Court, the Smithsonian Institution Building, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington Monument.
Eventually I sheepishly asked a friendly looking gentleman if I was going the right direction; “no, but I can show you”. So off we went while making small talk. Frank lived/worked in DC and he told me all about his job and life. He walked with me for about 15 minutes before stopping to ask if I was married and if I wanted to go for coffee…(friendly looking Frank was a bit of a flirt). I politely declined, pointing to my camera to indicate I was keen on taking a photo of the White House before heading back. He pointed down the road and said it would be on my right, no more than 5 minutes away.
There must have been some kind of event going on or something because there was a LARGE group of people dressed to kill! It wasn’t raining at the time but for whatever reason they ALL had their umbrellas out and occupied half of the street… literally around 60 – 80 people with umbrellas opened and dressed like they were attending a wedding or something. I wanted to take a photo but felt I would probably get yelled at so I opted not to. Anyways, 5 minutes later Frank was right, I spotted the White House!
Now, my focus was to try and get as close as possible to the White House to take my tourist photo, I didn’t notice there was a police block ahead (of course). I kept walking, looking around (like a silly fascinated tourist), not noticing I actually walked around a barrier intended to stop me from continuing until I was a stone throws away from two policemen. I must have a knack for giving this “ops silly me” look because both of the police guys smiled and gave me the thumbs up as I shrugged and said sorryyyyyy (holding my camera in my hand) trying to excuse myself as being a “stupid tourist”.
It was only then that I noticed no one else was walking on the road I was on, everyone had walked behind another barrier to the left of the road and all the other tourists were packed together to take photos of the White House. We were not close but still, I could see it! I was asked to take a photo of two ladies and then one of them returned the favor to take mine, mission accomplished and it was time to march back.
Now, because I was busy chitchatting with Frank I forgot that I was supposed to “make note” of the roads I took. Long story short I ended up power walking back! I had to make it back in time so I could meet Qais for drinks and dinner. I managed to make my train and still had a little juice left on my phone to call my taxi man. Instead of heading back to the hotel Qais told me to meet him at the mall and he picked me up from there.
I had been craving for some real Italian Pizza and Qais being the wonderful man that he is took me to get some along with my favorite dessert wine. We decided to go for a walk after dinner to “help digest the food” and to spend my last evening since I would be flying down to Louisiana the following day.
Louisiana was the last leg of my trip and shall be continued in my next post….