Monday, 19 January 2009

DC Central: Days 2 and 3

Day 2:

No pictures, and nothing terribly interesting. Beyond an annoying awakening at about 4am, a good day; brief tour of Silver Spring, courtesy of Francesca, and a trip to the shops buying a mobile phone (email me for a number!) and some toiletries I managed to completely forget. Other than that relaxing tiredly was on the agenda.

Day3, however...

Today is both Martin Luther King Jr Day and Inauguration Day Eve. The whole Mall (the central swathe of DC, the thing you see in films where they have a shot of the Capitol and the Washington Monument, it extends all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial) is being got ready for tomorrow; miles of fencing to keep the 3million+ expected attendants in place, and a set of huge screens to show the inauguration to those 3million people on. I'm not planning to be one of them, since I'd personally rather head for Pennsylvania Ave and watch the parade down towards the White House after the swearing in. So, that's what I'll do.

Anyway, I got off at the Smithsonian metro station - near the Washington Monument, a "my phallic object is bigger than your phallic object" of a thing (seriously.... look at it!) It's pretty impressive in it's scale, and on the background of a skyline like today's I have to say it manages to look decent.

So, I wandered up to the Capitol (that is, the Senate and Representatives) down the Mall, looking at the architecture on each side; that is, a mixture of classical and (very, very wierdly) gothic architecture; the gothic of some of the Smithsonian buildings just stands, no, leaps out of the side and makes itself known, thus I guess fulfilling it's purpose pretty well - "Hey, look at me! Come inside! Have fun in here! Go on, you know you want to!" So, that was pretty cool and the architecture's definitely good.

And the Capitol itself is just incredibly awe-inspiring; that is, I guess it's purpose again; it's a pretty good building which, of course, many of us know from films. It's a very, very big building with a nice dome, and a pool outside it. Well, normally it has a pool; today it had more of an ice-rink for birds before it, rather than anything else. That was quite wierd, I hadn't thought it was actually too terribly cold just recently, but it must have been significantly below freezing for that to have happened. The birds managed to get themselves a little ice-hole, somehow, though; that was quite pretty, with all the birds crowded around it.

Wandering up from there I headed to Union Station. Of course, that's a misnomer, and anyone who's been there can tell you why; it's seems to be far less of a train station (and metro station) and far, far more of a shopping centre, with some pretty classy shops there, and some amazing architecture there which was cool. However, it does still make me think it was wiiiierd as a station; so many shops, y'know?

And it was here I'd agreed to meet Courtney. Now, I won't stick the photo of us two together in here because I've not asked her if she's okay with that, so... it'd be kinda inappropriate, y'know? However, we met, and talked, and walked, and talked, and walked. She's a French Studies student at AU in DC, so we talked about that a bit and about politics and just stuff; walking and talking down to halfway down the Mall. There, we got confused and thought that the concert being shown on the screens (with Springsteen playing and all) was not yesterday's but one for MLK day today; we hurried down to the Lincoln Memorial, only to see we were wrong. Didn't matter much, because Lincoln's memorial is pretty beautiful; based on a Romano-Greek temple, Lincoln takes the place of Zeus, and it's all modelled in a very similar style, except the man himself of course.

At this point we turned and wandered back up the Mall in the direction of Union Station, and saw that the decently-populated Mall of earlier had turned into a veritable sea of people. Now, given that tomorrow's the inauguration day, rather than today, and given how many are expected to turn out (me among them - not on the Mall, though, so yeah) it's pretty impressive; Obama's really tapped into something in the US, and it's something really positive and uniting.

All told a brilliant day, if a tad bit tiring, and tomorrow should be truly, absolutely epic. Now, just to leave you on a funny note... Martin Lolcat King Jr;


  1. Hey!
    It's really interesting hearing about all this. When I'm in America in the summer, I want to spend a few days in DC. Are you staying with family? Or is it people you know from other places?

    (p.s - I've got a blogger account that I could have posted from, but I'm being lazy. And if I use the lj one, then you know who I am.)

  2. Well, I have watched it on the BBC now, and I hope you could hear all that he said. It seemed to me to bare out what Churchill said: "You can always rely on America to do the right thing, once it has exhausted the alternatives."