Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Nation’s Capital

Washington, D.C. is only a 45 minute drive from Annapolis so we left the Pjotter in the Annapolis harbour and set out to spend the weekend in the Nation’s capital.  Our hotel was located about one block from the Whitehouse and had been chosen for its location and its promise of a full sized indoor swimming pool for the monkeys. 
Anyone who has been to Washington knows that there is really a lot to see in this city.  The incredible Smithsonian institute, the largest museum and research institute in the world, alone offers 20 museums that can all be visited for free.  Then there are all of the government buildings, capitol hill,  monuments and memorials, archives, and all of the other trappings of being the nation’s capital.  And, of course,  we had a swimming pool in our hotel so we were really bound to be quite busy.  

On our first day we sampled a little of the Smithsonian with a visit to the Museum of Natural History.  The dinosaurs were a huge favourite here and despite our efforts we were unable to convince Macsen that they no longer exist.  He still looks for them behind large trees.    
On our second day, we let our Dutch roots show and took a tour of the city by bicycle.  Our guide was knowledgeable and she took us around to see the highlights of the government buildings, monuments and memorials.  It gave us a good high level overview of that section of the city.  I was particularly moved by both the Korean and Vietnam war memorials.  Surprisingly, as I am certainly very far from being a memorial or a war buff.  They both had an extremely sad, eery, finality about them that had quite an impact on me.  
I have to admit though, that my favourite thing in Washington is the Albert Einstein memorial.  This is a mischievous statue with an incredible echo effect in the middle that fits with my impression of Einstein’s cheekiness.  And they say that if you rub his nose then some of his talent will rub off on you.  Seb was the only one of the family who neglected to rub his nose and only time will tell the result of that little inaction...
Our last stop in Washington was the city zoo, home of the Giant Panda.  I think that this is the best zoo that I have ever been to.  What makes it so great however is a bit contrary to the interests of the average zoo visitor.  The cages and pens are so large and contain such dense foliage and cover that it is rare (in our experience and those of the people around us) to see an animal there.  I was impressed but Seb grumbled a bit that he wanted his money back even though the Washington Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institute and therefore free to enter.  

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