We made arrangements to meet the shuttle at 9am for an arrival in town around 10am when things start opening. Breakfast at the hotel has been adequatewith a hard boiled egg and bagel for Mo and oatmeal and yogurt for me. The coffee is weak but I have found the Starbucks instant and love having it in my purse to beef up “dishwater” when it is needed. The price is right! We have a free breakfast every morning.
The weather has been perfect every single day with moderate temperatures and no rain. We are becoming old hands at the metro scene. We met a couple from South Carolina at breakfast who decided to leave their car behind and take the metro to town. We showed them how to buy a ticket and get on a train. Once downtown we parted ways and told them to be sure to go up in the Old Post Office tower before doing anything else. The day before they had a shock when they received a $100 ticket for parking after 4 pm in what turned out to be a traffic lane during that time of day. It is much easier to leave your car behind and use the excellent public transportation available.
Our Old Town Trolley tickets were good for another day so we planned to use it on the Orange Line for our second day of sightseeing. Our first stop was the National Archives which is the home of the original documents of our country’s history including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The surprise was an original copy of the Magna Carta from the 13th century. It is one of only four remaining in the world and this is the only one in the United States. The importance of this first document of democracy in western civilization was thought provoking. The rotunda was impressive and beautiful and again I was a bit overwhelmed with the magnificence of the architecture and art here in the Capital City.
In addition to the documents the Archives had some great exhibits. This includes one called “Big” with photos, commentary and displays of some of the bigger events in our history. It was fascinating. The Public Vaults were interesting because one could pull up more than 8 billion pages of text related to anything you wanted to explore. We saw old movie footage of WWII, D-Day, news reels, old movies, and enjoyed the ability to explore fragments of our history in astonishing detail. An especially interesting part was the display of photos and portraits of Presidents and First Ladies as children. I learned that researchers, filmmakers, designers, lawyers, historians, and others use these records every day. It was incredibly fascinating and we could have spent much more time.
We left the archives and walked the few blocks to the National Botanical Garden and Conservatory just west of the Capitol on the Mall. Once inside the lovely glass building we were treated to displays of orchids, bromeliads, cactus and tropical jungle plants. Many were in full bloom. It was a lovely place to sit on a bench and enjoy. Of course, we had an agenda so moved quickly throught the gardens and on to our “next big thing”, the Capitol.
There is no charge to visit the Capitol, but tickets are still required. Security is tight as everywhere with no bottled water or liquids or any of the other myriad things that we have become used to not carrying in these days of airport security. The Capitol tour is well worth the time with guides that explain the history of this great building. We were treated to some of the inside stories about how it was built, burned by the British in 1814, burned again during the Civil War and then rebuilt. The Capitol Rotunda is huge and decorated with paintings and sculpture as magnificent as anything seen in the world.
We then continued north from the Capitol Mall to Union Station for a little bit of lunch and more views of impressive architecture and great people watching. Back to our Old Town Trolley for a twirl around the town we were dropped off at the Metro Center for a quick ride home.