Washington DC was an unexpected highlight of our trip to the USA. I knew it would be beautiful, and there would be loads of history and museums to take in - but I didn't expect downright gorgeous, endless museums and so much to see, do and eat, that you could easily spend two weeks there. Sadly, we only had four days. So we did the best we could.
The weather in May is perfect. It is nice and warm, with spring blooms on just about on every corner. When the clouds came over, they were gone by the late afternoon, revealing some pretty fantastic sunsets.
The National Mall was obviously our first stop - and we really had no idea how big it was. I figured it would be an easy walk, nipping in and out of museums and stopping for pictures at all the monuments. Wrong! It stretches on for about 3 kilometres between the steps of the Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial. In between those two is the famous Washington Memorial, which looks like a giant, you know... We may have taken some very childish snaps that certainly won't feature here on Pretty Mint. It had to be done though.
On our first day, we only managed the Air and Space Museum, and poked our heads in a few of the others on our way down The Mall, making mental notes of where to come back to. Sadly though, we didn't get another turn at the museums - so we have a lot to do when we go back someday.
On our second day we went to Arlington cemetery and spent all morning winding our way through America's most sacred grounds. We were there just before Memorial Day weekend, so the sense of national pride was unmissable, with flags out and military presence everywhere. Then again, maybe that is an ordinary Thursday in DC.
We visited the gravesite of the Kennedy family, and watched the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - both incredibly haunting.
We were wondering about the placement of flags on each and every gravesite that was beginning while we were there and we learned that since 1948, on every Memorial Day weekend, the 3rd U.S. Infantry have placed small American flags precisely one foot in front of each grave marker - and each is centred perfectly.
There are over 220 000 flags to place! They are then taken down again at the conclusion of the Memorial Day weekend.
Our next stop was the iconic Lincoln Memorial. Which, while I am sure many of you are hugely interested in the history and the facts about this massive memorial, we only really wanted a photo like this:
Touristy photos aside, the memorial was beautiful. It was packed with tourists, but also locals just having a perch and enjoying their coffee. We also spotted a few runners who were using the stairs to up the ante on their workout. I love it when a city gets it right, when a memorial is seen, used and appreciated by the people who live around it. There is nothing more disappointing that something caged and seen at a distance.
The views of the memorial are rivalled only by the views seen from the memorial. It was the perfect place to start the day and watch the people go by for a little while.
Finally, we spent a day exploring the historic Georgetown area. It took a short train ride and a little walk past the famous university's medical campus, and then there we were. In America's version of Notting Hill. Old stone and brick houses, bursting with quaint details and pretty gardens. The area is situated along the Potomac river and features an endless list of restaurants to try along the main street and along the waters edge.
It is also home to some damn great shopping. We popped in and out of Nordstrom, Kate Spade and a couple of smaller boutiques. We took breaks to sample some cupcakes from Sprinkles and Georgetown Cupcake - I only wish I'd managed to save space for some more from Bayou Bakery and Dean & Deluca. But then there wouldn't have been any room for the amazing burger form Good Stuff Eatery - and their famous lemon meringue milkshake. It was well worth sacrificing two stops on my cupcake tour.
Our evening ritual was to grab a healthy dinner from either Protein Bar, or Chop't. We'd take it in a takeaway box and head down to the National Mall in time for sunset. We'd watch the local soccer and baseball teams play in front of the Capitol building, people walking their dogs and joggers passing by. We always sat on what we'd decided was 'our' bench for the duration of our stay and sit in the direction of Washington Monument and watch the sunset. These are some of the happiest memories from our American road trip.
DC, what more can I say? You're definitely a favourite.