Friday, 31 August 2012

Round The World Travel: Washington D.C.

Where I am

The nation's capital city, situated a 3 hour train ride from NYC, one that I passed largely unconscious and horizontal, opening my eyes only to feel the weight of judgemental gaze emanating from the older lady across the aisle.  A heat hazed city in August, of wide open streets and numerous leafy green spaces.  It feels empty after Manhattan.   There's no one on the pavements at this time of year but tourists and the crazy and/or homeless.  It feels like the sedate, grey suited elder to the wealthy bohemian, eternally adolescent NYC. Probably all the politics that peppers each street with large, white columned buildings and patrol cars on watch.

I want to be, but I'm not charmed, though it is beautiful.  There's an underlying menace that makes it feel unsafe and I'm nervous out late at night on my own.  For some reason, despite the seriously anally retentive grid layout I get lost repeatedly, only adding to my dis-ease.

That said, if you're not on the major comedown of leaving New York City, it possible what you'll see is a sleek, gorgeously manicured city full of polite, friendly people and state of the art museums.  I don't know...

Where I stayed

Duo Housing Hostel, proud owner of a near unseen 85% approval rating on Hostelbookers.  Tightly run by a camp and entirely disingenuously friendly gentleman, it was, despite this, significantly better than most hostels.  The showerooms in particular are swank and clean, plus breakfast is cooked every day and on Sundays there's a free BBQ.

Still, I hate hostels and had somehow forgotten this fact when booking the trip.  They feel like an eternal fresher's week to me, full of awkward conversations and hatred of those people who somehow seem to already know everyone and be having the greatest time. Wankers.

What I'm reading

'The Line Of Beauty' - Alan Hollinghurst

Stunning, absolutely stunning and gripping; a novel with a capital 'N' (it did win the Man Booker prize). Good to see how much has changed for gay couples, bad to see how little the Tories have altered.  Possibly adding to my mood of dreamy alienation.

What I'm nomming

My first pretzel. Unlike my father, I thought it was alright.  A really nice italian sausage linguine at a restaurant on the canal.

Struggled with 'table for one' syndrome.  Waiters of the world, you don't help solitary diners by casting sad, sympathetic glances at them or expressing surprise that anyone would want to eat alone.  Most of us have friends, they just aren't here!

What I'm listening to

'Outlander/Crosstitch' - Diana Gabaldon, as an Audible recording.

The quieter streets did make me break out my ipod for the first time thus far, but I think books block out less than music, so you aren't totally cut off.  Did have to watch I didn't accidentally grin at any leery men during funny parts, however.

Such a good book and a phenomenal performance by Davina Porter.

What I did

Walked the Mall from Lincoln's Memorial to the Capital building.  It is as beautiful a green space as I've seen in any city ever.  Huge lakes and numerous memorials, each  more artistic and grandiose than the last pepper the entire stretch.  It swallowed the numbers of tourists with ease and grace.

Marvelled at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.  I knew I only had time for one and this had made such an impression on my Father and brother when they visited I had to pick this one.  I'm so glad I did.  If all museums were like this kids wouldn't need to be cajolled into going.  I rediscovered my childhood love of astromony and updated my A-level knowledge via all the interactive and engaging displays.

Took my almost lawyerly self up to the Supreme court, only to find it covered in rather unattractive scaffolding. Grump.

Wandered into Georgetown, which was very pretty, all many coloured boutique shops and trendoid bars.  It seemed a great place to go to university.  All the students had just returned and were in the high spirited, haven't-been-given-any-work-yet mood.

Went for a run and happened upon the White House.  I'd've missed it, but for all the tourists snapping pics.  It's no bigger than the McMansions of Canvey Island.  Huh.

Saw Premium Rush at the AMC on the waterfront.  Was a ridiculous and completely entertaining film.  Am discovering the cinema is a good, if a little pricey, way of having some quiet time to myself when the hostel atmosphere gets the better of me.

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