Washington DC day 1

An early wake up in Raleigh which was actually quite a decent sleep. I woke up and watched the squirrels run around outside our hotel window for a bit. Then before jumping on the coach I ducked over to Dunkin Donuts and picked up a coffee and a bagel to eat on the journey. Our destination today was the nations Capital, Washington DC.

 Our first stop on the road was in Virginia where the slogan for the state is ‘Virginia is for lovers’. We just stopped at a visitors centre and they gave us a Virginia sticker which was nice. Then we stopped for lunch in Richmond, Virginia. We ate at a place called ‘Which wick’ which is like subway, but better. We drove on some more and as we approached DC we drove past the pentagon which was cool. We then had our next stop before entered DC at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington National cemetery is the biggest military graveyard in America. There is no doubt you have seen images of it online. There are many, many thousands of white tombstones lined up symmetrically. That are each dedicated to people who served in the United States military. It is a pretty amazing site. JFK is also buried here alongside his wife, his brothers and his children. Americans take this cemetery very seriously and Braden reinforced to us how important it is that we were quiet and didn’t fuck around here as it would be disrespectful. This cemetery is fucking enormous. We spent about 90 minutes walking around it and it felt like we didn’t even scratch the surface. They have a guard that is guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier 24/7 365 days a year. They do the changing of the guard at the top of every hour. We were lucky to see this, it was really good, almost like a dance.

 It was really hot and the cemetery was very hilly so we were pretty fucked from the walk. We rolled into DC to our hotel and checked in. We had an included pizza dinner at the Italian restaurant adjacent to our hotel that we smashed. It was alright but the place was pretty stingy and didn’t give us much food. We had to wrap it up early because Braden was taking us on a 3 hours night tour of Washington DC.

 This tour was amazing. We went past the White House, The Capitol building and the Washington monument on the coach while Braden was giving us information and facts about them. Then we got out at the Thomas Jefferson memorial. This is a big Greek-type temple with a large statue of Jefferson in it and some of his quotes on the wall. It was extremely impressive. Such a beautiful monument. Then we coached it over to the FDR memorial. This is a memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was the president of the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. This is a large area containing 4 massive outdoor rooms that has sculptures and marble structures that have lots of his quotes and outline his achievements and some of the great things he did during each of his 4 terms as president. This memorial was absolutely stunning. Such a beautiful area at nighttime that had lots of little fireflies flying around which truly made it magical.

 Following this we legged it over to the Martin Luther King Jr memorial which was probably my favourite of the memorials that we saw. It is absolutely amazing. It is a man made mountain with a large stone from the middle pushed forward of it that has an enormous image of Martin Luther King sculpted into the stone and has the quote on the side “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope”. Then around the mountain is a long walk on either side that has some of his greatest quotes. This memorial was truly breathtaking. It was on another level of beauty. Seeing it at night and reading the quotes was so powerful. I loved this.

Unfortunately as we were leaving MLK it started raining and thunder storming but we had two more memorials to explore. Next was the Korean War memorial. This memorial has sculptures of soldiers in the war that look exhausted, cold and terrified. It looks like they are trudging through the grass to fight in war. Next to it is a large wall that has the faces of people who fought in the war etched into the wall. Braden told us to walk through this memorial in silence as it makes it more powerful. It was top quality. Then we were heading to the main event which was the Lincoln memorial. It did not disappoint. It is an enormous pantheon-type building that has many, many steps that lead up to a fucking enormous statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in his chair. I had heard of the memorial before and seen it on tv, but the actual size of it is surreal. It is massive. On the wall it has a copy of his inauguration speech. It was so beautiful at night. At the top of the building if you walk a bit to the left you can see the Washington monument in front of the reflection pool with the Capitol building in the background. An absolutely stunning view. They also have the part of the stairs highlighted where MLK gave his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech in front of a sea of people. Washington DC is absolutely beautiful. Tonight was extremely special and really touching. It was amazing seeing Braden in his element telling us about the history of all these places and being so passionate about it. A truly magical evening. I can’t wait to spend the next 2 days in DC taking in the culture, the history and everything that DC has to offer.

 Much love

 Ronnie

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