This is the SECOND time I am typing this blog out. Damn stupid failing computer with its 'error notifications' and its closing of everything without warning. Mark my words, I'm livid.
Today was another day filled with hardcore education and learning. Today we visited Washington D.C, the capital of The United States. What's great about this city is that everything was free, and so for a traveller on a budget this was a great day to do a lot and spend a little.
We drove to a nearby train station and got the metro into the city centre. Our first stop was the White House.
1st impression? The White House makes Downing Street look like a shelter for verbally impaired.
I was a tad surprised that we couldn't get any closer. There were a lot of wooden fences stretched out for miles that prohibited the public access to get any closer. I'm not sure why I was surprised as it makes total sense but I guess in all the movies, people walk right in front of the gardens in front of the building so I just presumed I could do the same. Lesson 1; don't use Hollywood movies as a sole bass for education.
I got a couple of cool shots though so wasn't all bad, plus we saw a couple of stereotyped policemen on horses looking all butch, posing for the Japanese tourists who had their state-of-the-art cameras on overdrive. Was funny.
We then made our way over to the Washington Monument.
The Washington Monument is this large, majestic, tall, sand-colored obelisk. It was constructed to commemorate the first U.S. president, George Washington. You don't really understand the size of it till you go right up to it and look up and your first thoughts are , wow, pretty huge. Then my sadistic mind wakes up and I realise that that's a perfect place to jump if you want to end it all, not that I'm suggesting it but the thought was there. Lol
We then walked over to the WW2 memorial. This is a National Memorial dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. Consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of arches surrounding a plaza and fountain, it's really quite lovely. We walked around the pillars and each one was named with a state so I found California and had a patriotic photo. Why not?
After dipping our toes into the fountain water we made our way over to the Lincoln Memorial avoiding all the geese s***e that seemed to have been lined up in ammunition by the local geese patrol.
Now, this is when I got a little excited. I watched the movie 'A Night at the Museum 2' at the cinema recently and loved it. In fact I loved the first one but since the second was based in Washington D.C I insisted that we used the film as a rough basis for our sightseeing. The Lincoln Memorial was therefore the first stop for that.
Fans will remember that Big Abe was brought to life and defeated the evil eagle-headed daemons from the dead that the stroppy mummy dude brought back to life. The building is in the form of a Greek Doric temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln( the 16th president who abolished the slave trade and successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War).
After giving Abe the thumbs up, we made our way over to the Vietnam Memorial. It's a beautiful black shiny wall with all the names of the American people killed in the war. Its dramatic yet humble and I like it. Its startling to see all the names and some people were searching for specific people which was cool to see. We then made our way over to the Smithsonian museums. (I started skipping in sheer joy at this point)
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its shops and its magazines. Most of its facilities are located in Washington, D.C., but its 19 museums, zoo, and nine research centers include sites in New York City, Virginia, Panama, and elsewhere. It has over 136 million items in its collections…yeah I nicked that from Wikapedia, lol, bothered.
We started with the Smithonian Instituion Building . Super Dull. The only exciting thing here was the replica of the pile of loot that the mummy dude had collected in the film. I took a picture, and we left.
We next visited the National Museum of American History. Also a little dull however it can be forgiven as it was undertaking refurbishment and so there wasn't a lot to see. Shame.
We then made our way over to the National Air and Space Museum where I was super excited to see the plane that Larry and Amelia Earheart flew in the movie.
This was the best museum of the day. The minute you enter it's a world of planes, aircraft, space ships everything! I loved it, perhaps because it is aimed for the younger generation but never the less we spent ages in here. There was all the information about how flying used to be for the privileged only and flying was done in luxury and comfort with space galore, smoking on the plane and wine bars to lounge in. Now its filled with cheap tacky seats and its more of a necessity then a luxury.
They had all the changes in uniforms that the pilots and airhostess wore over the years, and of course all the different types of planes suspended from the ceiling in a rather precarious yet stable fashion. This museum is awesome! Everywhere you looked there was something new to see, whether you looked down, up , left, right, it was brilliant. I highly recommend it.
We moved onto the National Museum of Natural History. My main focus was to get a picture of Rexy. I did. He was awesome. We went through a lot of the rooms. One of the most fascinating was the room dedicated to the Hope Diamond.
For those who don't want the history ….scroll down lol….
The history of the stone that was eventually named the Hope diamond began when the French merchant traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, purchased a 112 3/16-carat diamond. This diamond, which was most likely from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India, was somewhat triangular in shape and crudely cut. Its color was described by Tavernier as a "beautiful violet."
Tavernier sold the diamond to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 with 14 other large diamonds and several smaller ones. In 1673 the stone was recut by Sieur Pitau, the court jeweler, resulting in a 67 1/8-carat stone. In the royal inventories, its color was described as an intense steely-blue and the stone became known as the "Blue Diamond of the Crown," or the "French Blue." It was set in gold and suspended on a neck ribbon that the king wore on ceremonial occasions.
King Louis XV, in 1749, had the stone reset by court jeweler Andre Jacquemin, in a piece of ceremonial jewelry for the Order of the Golden Fleece (Toison D'Or). In 1791, after an attempt by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to flee France, the jewels of the French Royal Treasury were turned over to the government. During a week-long looting of the crown jewels in September of 1792, the French Blue diamond was stolen.
In 1812 a deep blue diamond described by John Francillion as weighing 177 grains (4 grains = 1 carat) was documented as being in the possession of London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason. Strong evidence indicates that the stone was acquired by King George IV of England. At his death, in 1830, the king's debts were so enormous that the blue diamond was likely sold through private channels.
The first reference to the diamond's next owner is found in the 1839 entry of the gem collection catalog of the well-known Henry Philip Hope, the man from whom the diamond takes its name. Unfortunately, the catalog does not reveal where or from whom Hope acquired the diamond or how much he paid for it.
It then travelled down through the generations and was finally donated to the Museum by Harry Winston. So it is now in ownership of the people of America. The Diamond is said to behold a curse that to whoever owns it will die a painful death. So tough love America. Lol.
WE slipped into one of the gardens in between all this, but I cant remember when. Tucked away amongst the artwork that surrounded this garden was a beautifully magnificent water fountain. The sun was beaming down and it was glorious to rest and paddle for a bit.
And that was us done for the day, I was popped, we did so much and I was so grateful for my sun block and hat as the sun was beating down on us and there were times that I felt like a small chicken, spit roasted on a open fire bbq.
A wikkid day and to finish it off we came back home, met up with Rachel and all settled down to Watch Night At The Museum 2 on the overhead projector.