A Travellerspoint blog

W.DC

29/05/12

sunny 33 °C

Hardest day so far, to extricate my carcass from the comfy bed.

Another stinking hot day but the long weekend is over and the people are back in their offices. The sound of business. We, on the other hand are still on holiday and so we set off for the metro with a plan that was quickly superseded. The Pentagon is on the same line so let's go there. I have to say, that there are no underground stations that I have seen more beautiful and futuristic, clean and free from advertising than those in this subway system. I could stay there all day in air conditioned comfort and admire the vault-like celled ceiling and the pulsing lights that warn you a train is coming. So easy to navigate this system, so polite and sing-song announcements. Just so nice.

The Pentagon station does actually bring you up smack beside this famous building. Security hits you in the face but only if going inside. Otherwise, just no photos. There are people walking around in various uniforms, including army fatigues which amused me somewhat. As if there is any chance of jungle or shrubbery to hide in, this place was stark and dry and glaringly white hot today. The reason for visiting here was to see the 9/11 memorial. I'd seen this on a documentary and it looked interesting. I didn't realize until getting in there and up close, that each of those marble wing shapes says a lot of things. If they point away from the building, it represents death on the ground, and if pointing toward the building those were on the plane. The shapes carefully line up but in a scattered way, according to the birth year of the victims so there was one in the row for 1998 and one for the year 1934 for example, and many in between. Underneath each shape is a correspondingly shaped pool of water. Once the trees grow larger this place will become even more beautiful than it already is. This was a unique memorial and I thought the design was simple and moving. Worth the trouble to visit.

Next stop (literally) was the Arlington cemetery. By now, we are encountering the ever present school and coach groups. The temperature is escalating too, so we didn't dawdle here. The objectives were met: see the Kennedy graves sites. I was surprised at the simplicity of those for Ted and Bobby, but perhaps that was just due to the contrast with JFKs site. It looked different to what I had expected. It looks over a balcony style terrace which has words from his inaugural speech, the one that includes, And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you.... The city is visible in the distance, but you cannot see the field of white stones from here. All is overlooked from the peak by Arlington House which I later read has a most interesting history.

Next we walked to see the tomb of the unknown soliders. Yes it's plural because there are unidentified bodies interred in there, one from each war America has been in. There is always a sentry there no matter what. Also we saw the memorial amphitheater with its remnant tributes after yesterday. Had to stop and look at the memorials for those who lost lives in the shuttle mishaps. They really shouldn't try to create a likeness of faces in bronze relief. They look very unlike the true images of the people, it kind of wrecked it a bit.

And of course there were the fields of small white stone plaques that stretch on and on and on. You see these as you walk around. Endless.
Maybe when they run out of space, we can stop having wars?

A blister had to be attended to. Silly me, why would wearing fit flops be a good idea on a hot day? So we had lunch locally to the hotel and then continued with the afternoon's itinerary. This was, catch subway to the Mall, see Smithsonian of choice. I had already seen the air and space one in 2001, so Paul had his space beams in solo. I tried to go to the National Archive but when I saw another queue, I hightailed it back again to the other side and visited the more tranquil and contemplative Hirschhorn Art and Sculpture museum. Ah, air con and so few people! I really enjoyed my visit. I saw loads of good stuff here. Just loads. Many familiars: Warhol, Picasso, Henry Moore, Hopper, de Kooning, LeWitt, Ernst, Rodin, Arp, Miro, Frank Lloyd Wright etc I found some new ones I like too. I loved seeing the Tall Woman by Giacometti. There was absolutely nobody in the room to get in the way! This sculpture is quite famous, I'm sure most people would recognize it. It's a metallic very skinny elongated woman.

So after meeting up again, with our respective art and space beams on, we had a look at the Natural History museum. It was very similar in content to the one in NYC. Very good exhibits. So little time! I would like to see the American History one again but try to not visit anything twice, like reading books maybe?

The sky was heavy with rain clouds. We got the train back to Foggy Bottom which is the area where George Washington uni is and close to the hotel. We ate our dinner but had to walk home in the rain. So if we are not drenched in sweat we are drenched with rain!

Last day tomorrow! How much can we squish in? Still a lot to see......

Posted by fay_bee 18:40

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