part 1, Washington DC
Recently we went on a trip to the east coast. This was to be our first time in this area so decided to make the most of it. We had booked a fourteen day cruise of all the eastern seaboard states and provinces and decided to see as much as possible by spending a few days in Washington DC before the cruise.
My husband is well known for his thrifty ways, sometimes referred to as cheap, so I was a bit apprehensive about the hotel he booked for us. The reviews were somewhat mixed being described as cheap and cheerful, very old fashioned and past its prime.
Arriving at the hotel I was pleasantly surprised. It was over one hundred years old but had a faded elegance that I found charming. The rooms and beds were spotlessly clean and that is first and foremost in importance to me. Yes the room was quite small but the bed was big and comfy, the bathroom had old fixtures and plumbing but everything worked well. Staff could not have been nicer. There was a ‘wall of honour’ off the lobby that featured portraits of all the past presidents who had spent time there.
The elevator had a rattle and shake that did not instil too much confidence, but it got us to our room every evening. There was an in-house mail shoot from the top floor to the bottom and this was still in regular use. Within three minutes of the front door was the middle of Washington. We could walk to the capital building, White House, many famous buildings including the FBI headquarters and the Smithsonian museums in under twenty minutes. A few more minutes got us to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
I was truly amazed at the user friendliness of the US capital city. So open, no high rises, parks and grass land in immense quantities and nobody racing around to go places in a hurry. We were fortunate to have fabulous warm weather for our four days in the city so the work force were seen eating lunch in parks and by city monuments.
The only place where security seemed to be an issue was right in front of the White House where police dogs and security guards were in large numbers, the rest of the city seemed fairly relaxed. We were never charged entry in any museum or public building and the attendants were pleasant and helpful.
Our hotel was across the street from the old Post Office which has a bell tower. The tower is open to the public and has a three hundred and sixty degree view of all of Washington, we spent over an hour getting our bearings for the walking we planned to do. The bottom of the building, where the old Post Office was is now a Trump International Hotel. My husband, suggested coffee and croissants in the elegant dining room, not one to miss such a chance, I agreed and it was kind of fun to sit in the elegance of the “over the top” glitz and glamour of the crystal chandeliers and the very uncomfortable, overly cushioned chairs that made you feel like you were drinking coffee in grandma’s feather bed.
We were waited on hand and foot by several well scrubbed, spotty young men with morning suits and white gloves. Every time I put my coffee cup down it would be instantly topped up by two of them, one with coffee and one with warm cream. How can the rich and famous deal with this behaviour? Someone constantly hovering by your elbow is a bit unnerving. I had butter and jam with my croissant and made a bit of a fool of myself chasing the butter round the plate with the silly little knife I was given. I finished up disgracing myself and used my fingers, the croissant alone cost over twelve dollars, I wasn’t going to waste a crumb.
Dave very graciously received the bill and didn’t faint or reel from shock, I was very proud of him. While the entourage was clearing away the dishes and clutter I wrangled myself from the grip of the over cushioned chair and managed to stand with a bit of dignity and didn’t knock anything over on my way to the exit.
One evening we took a pedicab ride for a two hour tour of the “monuments by moonlight”, what a perfect way to see the city in the dark. It was still warm and so pleasant to ride around the city that way. We were a little worried that the poor cyclist was going to have a stroke as he kept up a constant stream of information as he hauled us around the streets.
My days in Washington are fixed in my mind as one of the highlights of my travels and I truly recommend a visit to anyone with a few days to spare.