Field after field of white monuments. It is a sad and confronting place. So many lives lost. Such a waste of talent and so many lives lost without proper planning, training or consideration of the outcomes. Much was done for the right reasons, however, the loss has been staggering.The men and women killed were aged between 17 and 23 on average.
The tomb of the unknown soldier in four wars is guarded 24 hours per day every day of the year, rain, hail, snow, or terrorist attack without fail. Even of the day of the attack on the Pentagon, the soldiers stayed at their post. The changing of the guard happens every hour. The guard marches 21 steps along a rubber mat which has foot prints in it from the hours of repetition. At the end of his 21 steps he turns, changes his weapon from one sholder to the other , waits 21 seconds and returns to the other end, and repeats this for an hour.
Changing of the Guard, Tomb of the unknown soldier. Rain, hail, snow, shine, or terrorist attack; nothing will stop the soldiers guarding the tomb.
Also saw the monument to commemorate the taking of the the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese in 1942.
After all that we needed to eat so headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Washington.
Memorials and remembering day for us in Washington DC- Part One
Such a big day today – will have to do it in two posts. Stay tuned, more to follow.
We started the day with waiting in the lovely sun outside Union Station listening to a man sing about Jesus. It sounded like he had done it all day the day before at least due to his voice cracking and disappearing completely at times. We waited for the Old Town Trolley to take us around the city. This is the same mob we used when we ‘did’ Boston. Very organised, very safety conscious, and great fun.
The journey around Washington was fascinating and the buildings are beautiful. The have all been built over various periods. I saw one that was probably built in the 70’s as it looked just like a building my Dad was involved in designing, which is now the Duxton Hotel in Perth.. The windows were the same deep recessed rectangular style.
Anyway, the day was sunny and the commentary was pacey with a smattering of laughs and questions along the way.
My favourite stop was Stop Number 10, the Lincoln Memorial. We got off here and saw, Martin Luther King’s memorial, one for the Korean War and of course, The Lincoln Memorial.
I cried at the Lincoln Memorial – fancy that eh. I was just so pleased to finally be there. I had wanted to see that sculpture my whole life, and I really have no ties to America per se. Maybe its just that I’m just an emotional person, but the grandeur of the place. The collosal size of the man on his seat. The craftsmanship of the sculpture. Just amazing, and beautiful.
I must say I really have a penchant for sculpture, both creating and looking at it.
After Lincoln and my emotional response, I gathered myself and we wandered down the path to a group of sculptures in an area of shrubs. They were slightly larger than lifesize and represented soldiers in the Korean War. There was also a granite wall with photographs etched into it. Really nice memorial.
Next we wandered further and found the Martin Luther King Memorial. His “I have a dream”speech, which was presented at the Lincoln Memorial included the words “out of the mountain of dispair, a stone of hope”
Here is the mountain represented.
Once we had looked at this piece for a while and watched 72 8th graders wander around and hang off each other to have their photos taken, we went back to our pickup point for the Arlington shuttle to Arlington Cemetary. I spoke to a teacher supervising the students who were being asked to move on quickly so others could take photos, and she said ‘we are trying to encourage, self awareness’. We both laughed.
The shuttle took us to Virginia – just like that and we arrived at the cemetary ready for our tour. We had been told to go into the visitors centre to get our tickets processed – because “people were printing off copies” – so we queued as you do and waited, then when we reached the counter – we were handed two tickets which we thought would cost us – depending on who you spoke to – anything from $9-$12 each. So with our free tickets in hand – off we went.
The bus for the tour was a small trolley and that posed a problem for the larger members of our community.
I’m not a fan of America/Americans either positive or negative – some of the things they do I don’t agree with, but I think they do, do some things extremely well.
We went to the Natural History Museum and we saw heaps of stuff and if you have any questions ask. This blog is misbehaving and captions are just too hard today.
Phenomenal place. We walked around for hours and saw things like the live butterflies, dinosaur bones, the Hope diamond,
crystals, rock formations, gifts from overseas, a mammal display, egyptian mummies and artifacts. Wonderful stuff.
We then wandered across the “Mall” – a long strip of grass down the centre of Washington- to the air and space museum, another of the 19 Smithsonians around the country.
We had lunch there and there were 3 restaurants combined but I think Macdonalds (Mickey D’s as they call it here) was running the show. Hundreds of tables and chairs – truly amazing.
We caught the red Circulator bus to Union Station where Didi bought some cloth patches for her suitcase. I took some photos too. Beautiful building.
After that we caught the yellow Circulator bus back to our hotel.
The Circulator Bus is a service similar to our CAT buses in Perth only the service costs a dollar per ride but you can go a long way for a dollar. We lept off at 14th and K Streets and found our way for one block back to our hotel.
The dinner we had was at the hotel at their restaurant called Grist Mill.
We are off to Washington today and, for the first time since we arrived in NY, it is raining. It's not the sort of torrential rain of a tropical downpour. Its more of an English drizzle. Anyway – it's not too penetrating so raincoats will cover it. The rest of my party decided to wrap their suitcases in plastic bags to keep them dry. It was not necessary in my opinion, due to my packing all my clothes in those bags you suck the air out of to flatten them. I figured if the rain got through the vinyl on the outside of my case, it wouldn't matter anyway. I did cover my camera bag though.
So picture it if you can, four adults pulling their suitcases, covered in plastic, which are being rattled and pulled at by a fair gust or two of wind as we hold the hoods on our raincoats down to cover our faces, while trying to see, and dodge umbrella covered New Yorkians who keep to the right, mainly, at a reasonable pace. This whilst we avoid puddles, wait for the lights to change, dragging our beasts behind us, trying to miss the kerbs so that the wheels will remain in contact with the pavement at all times. Lucky it was only a three block walk.
We arrive fairly unscathed at New York's Pennsylvania (Penn Station) in spite of the escalator ride down to the waiting area. Once we had waited, we were herded into another area to head to track 9West to go to Washington. All loaded on the train and we were off. See below the route we took which lasted almost 3 hours. Great to sit and relax and watch the world go by.
New Jersey,NY – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Wilmington, Delaware – Baltimore, Maryland – Washington, DC
We are staying at the very lovely Hilton Garden Inn 815, 14th Street, North West DC.
We arrived early so had to wait for our rooms to be prepared. One thing I will say about the place is that it has old world charm, with thick carpets and heavy drapes. The bed is sensational. The lighting too is exceptional. Sounds pedantic I know, but really, whoever designs lighting in hotels, must do it to avoid the clients seeing anything that may be faulty. This hotel has lighting that lets you see whatever you want to. Its glorious.
Had dinner at the hotel Grist Mill. Shared a beautiful steak with asparagus and mashed potato. So yummy! Sigh.
We have been having breakfast at our hotel and today I tried the 'oatmeal'. It was beautiful..They had three containers of 'sprinkles'. There was sugar, sultanas, and slivered almonds. There was also cinnamon and another something that I cant remember but had not used. Very yummy.
Today was the first day we have used our raincoats and we needed them for the 3 block walk to Macy's the worlds largest store. Amazing place and the range of stuff in terrific. The temperature has dropped a little but its refreshing. Not a problem.
After we had been there for a while we needed to eat of course so we went to a lovely restaurant on the 6th Floor called Stella. Then of course we needed sweets afterwards – well I only had roast chicken soup so I was not full. So we found Bon du pain – a pastry smorgasbord! Yummo !
After we had been to Macy's we walked home and I wanted to go into the Post Office to see how much it would cost to send home some of my paperwork. One does collect a lot of crap along the way and I love maps so have heaps.It was raining quite softly but consistently and it was getting colder. Found the prices were to high so have managed with the cases I have.
We are heading out to Washington tomorrow by train so after arvo sleeps and blog time we are packing. Dont know how we are going to fit all the crap into the bags we have. Sigh, but I do like a challenge.
We've had a great time in New York and there is so much more to see and experience. Looking forward to doing it again in the future – may have to win lotto though.
We were a few sights short and as I was travelling with a foodie in Didi – I decided we should use our Metrocard (Bought it for use on trains and buses for a week and it earned its keep – big time!! – great investment)
So we headed for Broadway and 80th Streets to the famous Deli called Zabars!!!
We caught the M7 bus and it was heading in the right direction. It takes ages to get from one place to another on the bus, bus the views in and out of the bus are worth it. Its nice just to sit back and watch the world go by, especially when it is so frenetic where we have been staying. The noises are continual, jarring, educational and interesting. We watched as emergency vehicles with their woop woop noises which were blasted at street corners. People pay them very little attention – I saw a guy walk across in front of a turning ambulance today – he hurried a bit but the van had to wait for him to get out of the way. Unbelieveable!
Anyway we sat on the bus and watched the people, like the woman with the trolley basket, she hugged to her knee in the middle of the aisle. There was a seat nearby which was a single seat with a space beside it where the basket could have gone perfectly. Eventually she worked it out and moved. Another women, young and huge sat down on my right across the aisle and the seat groaned. She had the most perfect skin, and was probably only about 20 if that. Later a woman in orange got on with a walker and a 4 pronged stick lying across it. She approached another woman on her right and asked her for the seat. There are signs everywhere and constant announcements about giving up your seat for the elderly or disabled. Anyway as she approached and asked for the seat to be relinquished the owner said "Ma'am, I'm disabled too!" but did get up cross the bus and sit down.
So we are heading for 80th and Broadway but end up one block east of where we want to be. So we cunningly – after Didi's suggestion, asked a courier – where we should be for Zabars. He told us and off we went.
As per the recommendation of the Lonely Planet guide – it was everything and more.
Upstairs was a kitchenware area and the stock was phenomenal.
We had been told again in the guide that there were Knishes to be had here and that if we wanted a real one this was the only place to get the authentic ones. They are round pastry covered snacks. Inside there is generally potato and another vergetable. Eg, spinach, brocolli, or mushroom. They are served hot and taste delicious.
The weather has been cooler than usual and there is rain coming. Its a little cooler but not unpleasantly so. Went all retro and mono today and took some picture of the area we were in. Much more 'mellow' from 50th street north, in Manhattan.
Today started slowly and a much needed rest was in order. We did not get out of the hotel till after 11 and had an early lunch at a very casual Italian around the corner in 9th Avenue. Had Penne Marinara. Not much in the way of seafood but it was certainly authentic with a rich tomato sauce. It really was lovely and for $7.25 and enough for two – it truly was a bargain. Before we got to the theatre we went to the Disney Store
and the M&M’s Store.
We had and early lunch to get to Kinky Boots for the matinee at 2pm. Fantastic show.
After that we went to Planet Hollywood for a milkshake.
There are some real characters in Times Square so I took a few pics of the peoples.
After we wandered for a little, then A & B left us and we went over to the Schubert Theatre to see Matilda – music and lyrics were written by our Tim Minchin.
The curtain before the show Matilda.
We enjoyed the show, the lyrics were clever but not cringeworthy like some of his stuff. The kids were spot on, very well trained and not bratty. The lead was one of four they cycle through and she was lovely and well rehearsed. By the end of the show she was showing signs of being a little tired. But for a kid it is a long show and Matilda was in most scenes.
I wanted to have dinner at Sardi’s while I was in New York. I had not done any research as to where the restaurant was so hadn’t really expected to find it. But, as we came out of the theatre into 44th St, there in front of us was Sardi’s. I started heading over, telling Didi that I just wanted to look inside. I had no plans to eat there, I thought it would be way too expensive for us. So I walked in with Didi asking under her breath, “What are we doing here?” “I just want to look” I said. At which point I was looking towards the Maitre di – and over his shoulder at the portraits. Then it started to feel like a movie script. The MD looked at his bookings and without lifting his gaze said “How many?” I said two, and suddenly we were being lead inside with a flounce and a “This way please Ma’am.” – I looked at Didi and she looked at me, I wondered if she knew more than I about the prices in this establishment. I just followed the MD and sat at a table for two just inside the door on the left.
Within moments a waiter(server) arrived with water and menus. Again in a short time after we had glanced at the prices and worked out what we wanted, he returned with a selection of breads for us, white, multigrain or french.
It was not long until he returned and we enjoyed a lovely supper there of Canneloni pork and lamb, and porcini mushrooms in a crepe, slathered in cheese bubbling on the plate as it arrived on the table on our crisp white tablecloth.
Inside Sardi’s – check out the hundreds of hand drawn pictures of actors around the walls. Amazing!
I had a lovely Merlot and we left a reasonable tip and were not feeling ripped off at all. Not expensive by any means – reasonable prices.
We then walked home about 7 blocks from the theatre to the hotel, via the supermarket – bought some Crest 3D whitening toothpaste, and arrived home safely around 11:15pm.
Beautiful weather here everyday – in the 20s and cool at night but not cold. Lovely.
Central Park – We caught the train to 81st and found our way to the surface at the Natural History Museum.
We forgot that we did not have to pay the required price to get in, so decided not to go in. It was a humid warm day and we wanted to see Central Park. So we left the airconditioned comfort of the museum and wandered along a path outside towards the leafy trees ahead. We passed a dog run where dogs were allowed ‘off leash’ – because this is not allowed in the park generally. There were squirrels all around and birds.
People use the park and sit on the benches and enjoy the quiet and coolness. There are nannies everywhere – the obvious ones are the black women with the white babies, but we saw a collection of asian women yesterday too with a gaggle of children under 4 with them.
We wandered on and walked towards a bridge that was being guarded by a young woman who told us there was some filming going on over the bridge.
“I’m sorry, do you mind going around the other way, we are filming up ahead?”
“Yes, I do mind , I have to get to work.”
We didn’t hang around, but when we got to the other side we did see the film crew.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Went into this amazing building and saw wonderful artifacts and objects of great worth. We wandered around for awhile and found our way to a marvellous exhibit called Cafeteria; Some of the objects here were familiar to us. One of the assistants there even provided ‘hot sauce’ on request. Some of the stainless steel exhibits were found to be quite handy and not so ancient at all. We ate there and enjoyed the airconditioning again.
Later we caught the train again and popped up out of the subway at Fifth Avenue and Broadway. Intriguing building. Bigger than I expected. Designed by Daniel Burnham and built in 1902. 20 storey building was the world’s tallest building until 1909.
Trains were our main transport on this particular day, and even though they are efficient to and from places the stairs are hard on Didi’s knees. It can be hard when you don’t know which line you should be on and you go up to the street and back down again only to discover you are where you started, it can be frustrating and tiring. lol.
The heat has been infrequent and its been mostly cool. The heat is humid heat and is not much fun but does not last long. We have brought too much warm stuff and the weather has been beautiful, generally. 23-25 degrees most days.
Sacks 5th Avenue
It was beautifully laid out and interesting to see