Washington, DC

Funny how the nearest foreign capital city to me is way down on the list of capitals I have visited. If I make up a list of capitals I have been to: Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Oslo, Berlin, Paris, Bern, Vaduz, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Reykjavík, Peking [1], Pyongyang, Cape Town–and London and Brussels if I count connections through airports or train stations–then I have been to seventeen foreign capital cities before the one I am geographically closest too. I am not including Ottawa in this list, so I’ve actually been to eighteen, and I’m glad the first capital city I had ever visited was my country’s own, well over forty years ago and then several times since.

On our first full day in Washington we took the subway to Union Station to go to the Capitol. Right across the street from Union Station however was the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Since tomorrow’s forecast was rain, that was to be our designated museum day, where Mark and I would split up and see the museums of our choice. I was going to spend that day with Martha, the last passenger pigeon at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and then the postal museum.

We continued to walk to the left (in the above photo), where we noticed a crowd was gathered with press and spectators. We hung around listening to a speech and then Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar spoke at the podium.

We walked along Jefferson Drive to the Washington Monument:

Then we walked through the Ellipse, saw the lonely National Christmas Tree (not worth photographing a solitary bare tree in the middle of the summer) and saw the southern facade of the White House:

and then the northern facade, where an opera singer was busking outside Lafayette Square:

We got the subway to Foggy Bottom-GWU and were headed for the Watergate Hotel, but walked east instead of west and stumbled across a Whole Foods. It was so hot out so we stopped inside to get some lemonade and a box of four frozen lime fruit bars. We rested in air-conditioned comfort while we each ate a lime bar then went back outside while we ate another. We walked to the Watergate and toured the stunning complex of apartments, hotel and offices:

I ate my lunch on the steps of the building shared by the Icelandic and Swedish embassies while we waited out a short rainfall, then continued our walk to see “The Exorcist” steps. My feet have been taking a beating this trip, as they were still so sore after our trek around Baltimore. We had decided to go to the Sette Osteria Italian restaurant near our hotel for dinner, and sat outside. Super-speedy service meant our food was brought to us in no time, just what famished walkers needed.

The following day I visited the two museums, and enjoyed looking at four attached Inverted Jennys at the postal museum. There was so much to see at both museums that I had to pick and choose my exhibits so I’d be sure to see what I came there for. In the late afternoon we met back at the hotel then headed out on another walk in the Kalorama area near where we were staying. This was a swanky neighbourhood where Mark recalled President Obama had recently bought a house. We had no idea where exactly the Obamas lived, yet while we were walking around Kalorama Circle, we spotted a road blocked by a Secret Service vehicle. That was Belmont Road, and when we walked down Kalorama Road to Tracy Place we saw another Secret Service car blocking Belmont in the other direction. This had to be where the Obamas lived.

All throughout our trip to Washington we spotted embassies and ambassador residences, but the highest concentration was located on Massachusetts Avenue, also known as Embassy Row. I loved identifying the embassies by their flags. Japan’s complex went on forever yet why on Earth does Côte d’Ivoire need such a gargantuan embassy? We had a Greek dinner at Zorba’s but as soon as we selected a table outside it started to rain so moved inside.

We left Washington the following morning and headed on the subway to Reagan airport to pick up our rental car to drive to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

[1] Peking is a regional capital outside of official jurisdiction via Taipei. I shouldn’t include regional, (semi-)autonomous or territorial capitals on this list, as I don’t include Tórshavn, Mariehamn or Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.

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