USA Tour 2015 Day 5 – Airports, Gigs, Pasta and Monuments in DC

Day Five – Tuesday 7th April 2015.

Today has been very very long, no other way to describe it. We were up at 5:00am to have breakfast and be on the bus by 6:45am. The trip to the airport was rather uninteresting, we did get to see some of the “real” America with the houses and shops in the lower socio-economic suburbs though.

We were leaving from a different airport to the one we came in, Midway, and I got my first real taste of American airport security, it is crazy! I had to take my shoes off to go through security and then got in trouble for having a handkerchief still in my pocket. It took a long time to get through all the stops, but we finally got there with plenty of time to spare.

The flight was good and quite short (only an hour and forty-five). After touching down at Ronald Regan airport we headed on the buses out to Alexandria in Virginia for lunch and an afternoon performance in the Market Square. Alexandria was really beautiful, lots of old Colonial style houses with the high pitched roofs and the cherry blossoms were out on all of the trees – it was absolutely stunning and looked like we had stepped back in time. After our performance in the afternoon we rebounded our bus and headed back to our hotel.

Once check in was complete it was a quick get changed and head back out for dinner and then a night tour of the Washington monuments and buildings. My mind was blown by the size of everything – it’s huge! On our way into DC we went past a number of the monuments including the Jefferson and Washington Monuments as well as parts of the Smithsonian, the National Archives and Treasury Buildings. We arrived at Carmines, an Italian Restaurant, for dinner and boy was it a dinner – more like a feast! We had a number of courses including salad and garlic break, penne pasta, spaghetti bolognaise, eggplant parmigana, chicken and chocolate torte for dessert.

Feeling exceptionally well fed (again) we re-boarded our buses to head off on our night tour of the city. Our first stop was the capital building, nothing can prepare you for the size of this thing…it’s ridiculously huge! Unfortunately the main dome is covered with scaffolding at the moment. For the first time since being build it’s main dome is undergoing repairs/restoration which includes the peeling off of the seven layers of paint (including the three original ones) before patch work can happen on the iron dome structure.

Once we had finished at the capital building we headed down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House. We stopped near the Treausry building and walked the remainder of the way. Again, it’s just all so big that you can’t fathom it all. We were given explanations about the various wings of the White House including where the Oval Office is located in the West Wing. We also had a look at Eisenhower House (next door) whilst there and the building where all foreign leaders stay when in Washington as guests as the President.

Our next stop was the Lincoln Memorial. On our way there we drove past the Washington Monument. This obelisk is the tallest stone masonry structure in the world and when it was completed was the tallest tower in the work until the Eiffel Tower was completed.

The Lincoln Memorial is stunning and awe inspiring, there is a lot of history and symbolism used in its construction. The thirteen pillars at the front represent the thirteen states of the Union at the time of the American Civil War, these names are written above the collums as well. We got to see the place where Martin Luther King Jnr made his famous speech as well as go in and view the impressive 19 ft marble statue of Abraham Lincoln. On the walls around the statue are the engraved words of his inauguration speech. I was literally speechless at the sight of this place it is so impressive.

Our final stop was at the John F Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts. We got to walk through the Hall of Nations which has a flag from every country on the plant and view a bust of JFK. We also went up and onto the roof of the centre to view the city of DC, stunning views. Whilst up there we were also show the Watergate Hotel, infamous for the impeachment of Nixon.

The tour finished at just after 11:00pm, we are all absolutely shattered and have another big day tomorrow. Smithsonian and performances!!!

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