Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Washington - Day 1 - 31 May 2008

After a late start from Philadelphia (Philly), we arrived in Washington D.C. a little after noon and soon embarked on a Grayline city tour bus. It was an open-air double decker bus and it was a swanky new one. But unlike the NY city tour bus, this one had recorded messages explaining the various sights and sounds of the city, instead of an actual speaking and guiding us through the city. I would much rather prefer the latter because recorded messages are not personal and they can also make a mess if, for whatever reason, your bus turns, say right and then left, instead of the what the message is pre-programmed to say "now the bus will turn left (first) and then right". Which is what happened on Day 2, and created some confusion.

Anyways, within moments we were at the impressive and very imposing Capitol Hill. I got off, and then went about about to explore the external facades of this majestic structure and also the area. The Thomas Jefferson building - its essentially a Library - is absolutely majestic. Each wall and each painting on it and even those on the ceilings has some story and significance behind it. Next to it is a Supreme Court building where I couldn't help but notice two men - one of them could be a woman, but I couldn't tell because they were heavily robed and clothed, much like a monk or someone - what looked like to be in their prayers. One of the two men (or just two) had his mouth gagged, as if in some sort of protest or mourning. That was strange. Anyways, it soon started to rain very heavily - as per the weather forecast we saw earlier that day - and the entire day's trip got cancelled.

As a savings grace, we drove to Old Town Alexandria in Virginia. This is a lovely, quaint little town where it looks like all its citizens ever do is to have picnics, 365 days a year. The mood looks forever festive and the young and old are seen to either have some quiet evening out or a fun time chatting with one another and having fun, holdings hands, eating ice-cream, basking in the evening sun, people out with their dogs for a casual evening stroll, children getting fascinated with them and wanting to pat them, play with them.....
There's a beautiful fountain where the four of us spent some time frolicking and chatting. After many months, I had good Thai food at a restaurant at King's street - the hub of Alexandria town - and rounded with some good 'home-made' ice-cream at a nearby parlour. Old Town Alexandria wears a festive look in the evenings, with the street lit up with lights as if its Christmas, restaurants laying down chairs and tables on the streets where people eat and have a good time - and almost all restaurants look well patronised, especially the ice-cream parlour we went to, nice and well-maintained houses you wish you could own...all a very European-type atmosphere. A good time to spend your evening, you'll never know when the hours will fly. Do make it a point to spend an evening at Old Town Alexandria the next time you are in Washington D.C. It's worth the time.

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