Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Capital

What an amazing day we had in the city of monuments and museums! There's something special about just being in the seat of power in a country, I have the same feeling when I visit Canberra. All the buildings are so proper, practical yet ornate and there's a sense of importance in the air.

We had breakfast at Starbucks and then set off to explore the National Mall. On the way to the White House we stumbled upon a skating rink in the Sculpture Garden and spent a fun hour there staggering around on the ice. Well, Sophie and Geoff staggered around on the ice, Taine & I clutched the rail and dragged ourselves around the rim.

Our next stop was the museum of Natural History. Taine was in his element checking out the dinosaurs and introducing us to all the settings from 'Night in the Museum'.

The White House is less impressive in person than it is on the TV because it's set so far back in the gardens that it's hard to get more than a glimpse through the fence. Still, it is the White House! The information centre is even less impressive because it's under going extension and housed in a temporary building. There was a lovely school choir singing by the White House Christmas tree and we stopped to hear them sing The Star Spangled Banner. I love the patriotism associated with the anthem here, I wish is would rub off on Australians.

We joined a free walking tour (payment by voluntary tips at the end) of the west end of the National Mall. It was very informative and a real lesson in American history but by the time we got to the Lincoln monument we were exhausted. Despite my reservations about there being no helmets, we collected some bikes from the 'Collect a Bike' stand near Abe's statue and rode all the way back through the mall. It was so much fun and a great way to see everything. I loved the reflecting pond (summoning up images of Forest Gump's 'Jennnnyyy') and the view of the capital as we approached it.

When we got to the Capital we discovered what we thought was a wedding party having their photos taken but it turned out to be a 15th birthday party! I'm not sure what nationality the family were but they told us that this was a tradition for them. Everyone was formally dressed in suits and lots of tulle and there was a huge limo waiting for them. Taine & Geoff joined them for a bit of Gangman dancing and then we rode off on our bikes to explore the grounds of the Capital and its Christmas tree, a giant 74 yr old , 73 ft high spruce bought from Colorado as a gift to the people.

For dinner we walked down to Chinatown to meet up with a friend of Soph's who had been an exchange student in Melbourne a couple of years ago. The delicious food helped restore some energy but didn't help my poor feet at all. Hopefully a good night's sleep will have them back in shape for further exploration tomorrow.

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