Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Washington - Day 2 - 1 June 2008

Unlike NY, Washington D.C. is a very laid-back city. It works at its own pace. Things open up late here but close early. You have so little time to do so much in Washington. Then again, places like the Capital Hill are closed on Sundays. So that's a disadvantage. I was fortunate to be staying near the Capitol Hill and so was right in the centre of all the action.

Today, I took my Grayline bus and checked out places like the house where Abraham Lincoln spent his last days after being shot at, in the Ford theatre opposite to this house. The Ford theatre was closed for repairs, so couldn't see that. Followed by Lincoln Memorial and the World War memorials. The sprawling WWII memorial was the most beautiful one, but then all memorials have a tale or two to tell.

Washington D.C. was by far the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. The first part that strikes you is the greenery. Its lush green everywhere, even when you are in the middle of the city - they call it The Mall. Of course the tour takes you through the best places - I am told there are places so near to the route, for instance, where you shouldn't be; high crime rate, unsafe areas, etc. Blacks are again a majority in Washington D.C., just like Philly.

Next stop: Arlington Cemetery. This is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited. It is what I would say, the world's biggest graveyard. It probably is. Rows and rows and rows of never-ending tombstones of all those Americans who have made some or other contribution to USA - mostly soldiers and war veterans who laid their lives for the country, there was even a journalist corner where few journalists covering the wars were buried, ex-presidents like John F. Kennedy, etc - atop the huge Arlington hills, overlooking the Dulles airport, Virgina and also the Pentagon. Places of rest are always the most peaceful, and Arlington Cemetery was no different. You can either take a bicycle ride or a guided tour in their shuttle. I took the guided shuttle tour. You cannot take your own vehicle inside. Spend at least 2 hours here; its totally worth it. There's a place in here called 'The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier' that's guarded. Every 1/2 hour, the guards change in what is called a guard-changing ceremony. A nice spectacle, but nothing like the guard-changing ceremony at the India-Pakistan border at Wagah, near Amritsar in the state of Punjab, India.

I did not have much time to see anything else after all this, so I took the Grayline bus and proceeded to the Union Station - a must-see railway station in Washington D.C., and probably the second only to New York's Grand Central Station - to catch the Metro to Shady Grove to meet one of our young Indian guns converted to Yankee Doodle (Oh-India-is-so-dirty-and-America-is-so-clean-types) Cyrus.
Washington D.C. has four metro routes and i took the Red Line, supposed to be the best of the four. I actually like Washington's Metro more than N.Y.s', because it's cleaner and looks also safer as most its stations are well-lit and also the type of people who rode it. I am told its the latest underground network in the US. But nothing can compare to the network of the NY metro.
We had a fun time with him and his roommate at his place and then he treated us to a fine Malaysian cuisine at an upscale restaurant in Bethesda, a suburb in Maryland.

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