Sightseeing in the rain
All along we’ve been checking the forecast for our trip and Wednesday, Oct 26th was supposed to be a partly sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s. During my morning run in Alexandria, the weather was beautiful and it was shaping up to be a relatively warm Fall day in the metro DC area. So we embarked on our walking tour of DC lightly dressed and without an umbrella.
We chose our hotel in Alexandria so we could have easy access to the Metro and indeed, the King Street station was right across our hotel room! After grabbing a quick breakfast at a coffee shop nearby, we got on the Yellow Line into the city. The subway was above ground part of the way and we got to catch our first glimpses of the Washington and Jefferson Memorial.
We started our tour of the National Mall at the US Capitol end, but not before we eyeballed the Air and Space museum, wishing we had time to go inside and tour it. We took some pictures in front of the Capitol and chatted with a couple who had just moved to DC from Hawaii but were originally from California.
Shortly after, I realized that my camera batteries were almost dead and I had forgotten to bring my spares, so we headed to the US Capitol gift shop, hoping they’d have some. While there, we saw that there is a tunnel that takes you directly to the Library of Congress without having to go back outside and through security again, so we decided to check it out. I didn’t realize how beautiful the inside of the Library of Congress really is! We first checked out The Great Hall, which is elaborately decorated with the works of over 50 painters and sculptors. We got a glimpse of the reading room, and then we toured an exhibit that took us through the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Right off of that exhibit was a small library containing the personal collection of Thomas Jefferson, which he donated to the Library of Congress after its original collection was nearly destroyed in the War of 1812.
After we left the library, we realized it had started to drizzle. I could not believe it. We had an umbrella, of course, but did we bring it with us from the hotel??? Of course not. We ended up buying a souvenir umbrella from the Library of Congress, and it was a good thing we did so because the drizzle turned into some pretty hard rain. By the time we made it across the Mall to the Washington Monument, we were pretty wet despite the umbrella but we decided to keep going and make it to the rest of the sights we waned to cover.
We stopped briefly at the World War II Memorial and headed for the Lincoln Memorial. We were very much looking forward to climbing the steps at the Lincoln memorial and enjoying the view from there over the Reflecting pool all the way over to the other end of the Mall where the US Capitol was. Except the Reflecting pool does not reflect anything at the moment because it’s a giant hole of mud – it’s being rehabilitated right now. Boo!!! (I mean I know they have to do that but did it have to be now???) Add to the fact that the Washington Monument was closed for renovations following the 5.8 earthquake that struck the region back in August and we were starting to feel like we’d have to come back for more than museum tours. 🙂
After the Lincoln Memorial, we were both getting pretty tired. We had walked for about 3.5 hours and we were ready to sit down. We both had achy backs and feet and we were hungry and wet but there was one more stop – the White House! I don’t know if it was the weather or the fact that it was a weekday but there were no more than 10 other people at the fence in front of the White House. Every other time I’ve been to DC, it’s been a struggle to get a wide enough spot at the fence so you can get a decent picture of the White House without at least 5 other random tourists in it. We snapped a photo and finally headed back to Alexandria.
We ate a very late lunch at a Thai place near our hotel, then picked up our car and headed South to Richmond, VA, where Ramon is attending a conference for the next two days. When we got to our hotel, we found out that we no longer had a reservation because the hotel thought that we were supposed to check in the day before (even though we had called to change the date). GAH!!! Luckily they got us a room in a nearby Marriott so we didn’t have to go far but it was still a hassle. For dinner, we checked out a French place called Bistro Bobette with Ramon’s colleagues who had just arrived from California that afternoon. While they attend sessions tomorrow, I get to go to my alma mater in Danville, VA, which I haven’t visited since at least 2009! I am very much looking forward to catching up with friends and seeing all the changes at Averett University!