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How we spent 24 good hours in bad Washington DC weather

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[three_fourth last=”no”][dropcap]A[/dropcap] cold, gloomy, windy, snowy day in January, two frozen tourists with too thin clothes, having just arrived from Florida, stand on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House and look north towards the residence of the world’s most powerful person.

It’s hard to believe, there and then, that so much political and military and, to a lesser extent perhaps in these days of political gridlock in Congress, economical power is anchored here, on this precise spot. On the other hand, this is one of the virtues of visiting Washington DC: the feeling that, somehow, it’s here that it’s all happening, behind the scenes and sometimes out on the streets, too. This day, a procession of pro-life demonstrators has gathered from what seems to be all over the world to cry out their hatred for abortions and women’s right to choose. They march through town without any disturbance.

And as almost always in the capital, suddenly, black Secret Service Chevy Suburbans with sirens show up, blocking an intersection and letting some high-profile potentate, whom we never see, through traffic, only to disappear the next second.


However, the Washington DC weather this day is awful and, to be honest, the two tourists there at the White House, one of which is me, quickly snap the obligatory photos and then head for a warm Barnes & Nobles bookstore nearby to have warm chocolate. Even with the political drama going on, we’re glad that we only have 24 hours in Washington at this visit.

So, here is the story of our:

24 hours in Washington DC

[colored_box color=”blue”]1. The Dulles International Airport[/colored_box]

We’re not sure how it happens, but we manage to spend three hours traveling from the airport to our hotel just south of Capitol Hill. First, we catch a bus to a station from where the subway line departs. From there, we travel downtown, change to another subway line and finally arrive at our station. Then it’s a ten minute walk to the hotel, the Capitol Skyline. I’m sure there’s a better way to arrive to town, but our guide book does not help much. (24 hours later we take a taxi back to the airport, and end up spending less on that than we did on bus and subway fares.)

[colored_box color=”green”]2. The Capitol Skyline Hotel[/colored_box]

Having spent this much time on traveling, we are eager to see the town. But it turns out our room is not ready, and no one at the Capitol Skyline front desk seems to be able to give an accurate prognosis for when the cleaning service will be finished. We camp out in the lobby for like 45 minutes, when finally we’re able to access our room. Now it’s almost 3 PM.

[colored_box color=”red”]3. Chinatown[/colored_box]

We need to stock up on warm clothes and eat something, so we head to Chinatown and find both a sports store, where my girlfriend buys an extra sweater, and then to a local restaurant. The food is good. As we exit the place, we spot the imposing FBI building from a distant.

[colored_box color=”grey”]4. The White House[/colored_box]

Not having time to explore the area further, we instead take a walk through town towards the White House. This is not all that easy – as you move closer to the building on Pennsylvania Avenue, all sorts of fences and roadblocks start to appear. It’s not clear where you can and can’t walk. A police officer takes no notice when we slip past a fence that seems abandoned. Footprints in the snow show that many have walked here before, so we think we’re safe.

I’ve been to the White House many years before, in the summer, but the feeling is the same as last time – it seems so small. Way in the distant, the familiar building looks as if it’s trying to hide there among the trees in the garden. A school class and some other tourists, all observed by a freezing policeman, are there, too. But not for long, since snow has begun to fall and the wind blows. Soon, the freezing police is left alone. There’s a police car parked nearby, marked Secret Service, but perhaps he’s not allowed to sit in that while on patrol. I almost feel sorry for the man.

[colored_box color=”yellow”]5. The Museum of American History[/colored_box]

This I like. For starters, museums in Washington are free to visit. And the museum of American History is my type of place. Here you can see old things like steam locomotives, get an understanding of what New York City looked like for a hundred years ago, look at old cars and even enter the inside of an old steam ship. We manage only to see parts of it, but it can still be recommended.

[colored_box color=”blue”]6. Jenny’s Asia Fusion[/colored_box]

Jenny's Asian Fusion down at the Potomac in Washington is recommended.

Jenny’s Asian Fusion down at the Potomac in Washington is recommended.

Later that night we head to Jenny’s Asian Fusion down by the Potomac River. The service is superb, the food great, if not the best of all times. But it is a restaurant with a special touch and feeling that you don’t run into every day, least not, I guess, in Washington. This place can be recommended.

As we wait for our taxt we get to speak to Jenny herself, a mid-aged woman who came to Washington some 20 years ago from Taiwan. She longs to go back, she says, but seems content enough anyway.

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[colored_box color=”green”]7. The Mall[/colored_box]

The next day, the sun appears on the District of Columbia sky, and while it’s still cold it’s a fine day for a walk. After having checked out, we take the subway downtown to do the walk every tourist does in Washington – the Mall, Washington’s green area between Constitution Avenue in the north and Independence Avenue in the south, and to the Lincoln Memorial marking its western side and the Congress its eastern. Along the Mall are a number of great museums, the Smithsonian museums, one of which is the American History. We also find time to pop in to see the dinosaur skelettons at the Museum of Natural History. The exhibition is inspiring but quite old. The museum’s café is very good and fresh, on the other hand.

With that, we’ve no time left. As we make our way back to the hotel to fetch our bags, and then on by taxi to Dulles, we spot two guys sitting on sidewalks drumming on plastic jars and buckets. They’re very talanted. I’ve no idea why they sit there, though.


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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.