This month, I spent ten days in the United States for my company. Since it was not far, I and one colleague decided to go visit Washington D.C. while we had the chance. We only went there for a day but we already were able to see quite a lot of things.
Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States. It is just between the states of Maryland and Virginia. It is interesting to know that they in no real state. In fact, Washington D.C. is in the district of Columbia (hence D.C.). And its inhabitants do not get a vote in Congress. It is not a huge city, having less than one million people. But it contains many very iconic buildings such as the Capitol, the White House or the Lincoln Memorial. It is really a nice place to visit.
The day was quite cloudy during our visit. Unfortunately, some of my pictures are not very clear as a result. But we did not get any rain and the trip was very good. And very frugal. I managed to not spend anything in D.C. :)
The Lincoln Memorial
We started our trip at the Lincoln Memorial. This entire monument is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. The memorial is built on the model of a Greek template. And it contains a very large seated statue of Abraham Lincoln.
This memorial is really impressive. Even though I saw it many times in movies and pictures, I did not think it was that big. It is really a big statue and a big monument. From the outside, you have a nice view of the reflecting pool and the next monument, the famous Obelisk of the Washington Monument.
The Washington Monument
From the Lincoln Memorial, we walked along the Reflection Pool to reach the Washington Monument. It is impressive that there is such a huge park in the middle of a big city. On the way to the Washington Monument, you will also find the World War II memorial.
This memorial is dedicated to the American soldiers and civilians who served during the second world war. It is quite recent. It was only opened in 2004. From this, we can go to the Washington Monument.
The monument is dedicated to George Washington, the first president of the United States. George Washington is often the “Father of his country”. The monument is a very tall obelisk, the same style as Egyptian Obelisk. It is the highest obelisk in the world and the highest stone structure in the world as well. It took 40 years to build. But many years were lost due to the American Civil War that halted the construction of the monument. This is the reason two different kinds of stones were used. This can be seen in the difference of colors between the stones.
Unfortunately, the monument is now closed to visits. They are modernizing the inner elevator and the screening structure outside. Even though we did not go inside, it still is really impressive to see the monument from the outside. It is much taller than I imagined.
From this monument, you can continue your way all the way to the Capitol. On your way, you will find many Smithsonian museums. I really advise you to visit at least a few of them. All but one of them are free for visit! And they are really big. We decided to visit two of them. If we had more time, we could have visited at least one more.
The Smithsonian American History Museum
The first museum we visited was the Smithsonian Museum of American History. This museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution. This is a group of museums administered by the United States Government. They all can be entered without charge. I think this is a really great thing!
The museum contains several big exhibits. There is a lot of information on many things about the history of America. There are exhibits about the evolution of houses, of technology and even food.
Of course, there is also a lot of information about life during the different wars of the United States. I did not know so many women were involving during the two world wars. Since all the men were needed to fight, many women actually took their job while they were not here. This allowed the economy to continue and the construction of naval ships to continue for instance.
They even have a Batmobile! I would not call this history, but this is still interesting to see. And I am guessing that this can help bring many people to the museum ;)
This museum was really interesting. As an engineer, I really liked the part about the birth of electricity. They started with the electricity and went on with the inventions that resulted from it. There was a lot of information about the inventions of Thomas Edison. This was really cool and really well-organized.
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
The second museum we went to is the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. Such as the first one, this museum is free! This museum is about the history of air planes and space exploration. It is also interesting to not that it is the most visited museum of the United States!
The museum goes through the entire history of flying. From wooden planes powered by pedals through jets. Of course, any American museum would not be complete without war exhibits.
There are many military airplanes in the museum. And there are a few things about airplane carriers as well.
Another part of the museum is all about space exploration. From the early rockets to the powerful space shuttles. This was a really interesting part of the museum. I am actually a fan of space exploration. So this is definitely something I really like to see in museums.
Overall, I really liked this museum. It contains so many information and so many actual planes. It makes the museum really enjoyable. Since I am actually a fan of space exploration I would have wished this part to be bigger. A few information about recent space exploration such as SpaceX rockets would have been very interesting. But I still advise you to go see this museum if you get the chance.
After the Smithsonian museums, we finally reached the Capitol. The Capitol is the home of the United States Congress. Therefore, it is a very important part of the United States government. The building is really nice.
From the Capitol, you can also continue your trip to take a look at the Supreme court or at the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress is one of the largest library in the world. Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit the Library. But from what I have seen online and in movies, this is really impressive. If I ever go back, I will definitely visit it. Here is an inside view from internet:
Pretty impressive, right ? Finally, we even saw some wildlife:
Probably quite common for Americans, but in Switzerland, squirrels are much more scared of humans than here ;)
The White House
We finished our trip with a view of the White House. I think everybody certainly knows the White House. It is the house and office of the current president of the United States.
Unfortunately, I did not manage to grab a very good shoot of the White House. But it was quite good to finally see in person what I have seen in so many movies. Since we organized our trip at the last-minute, we could not get a tour of the White House. Indeed, these tours need to be booked for at least several weeks in advance, ideally more than two months. But it was still worth it to go see it.
If you want to optimize your time, you should go to the White House directly after the Washington Monument. And then you can go back to the park and the museums. That way, you will not have to go back from the Capitol to the White House.
It was really a good trip. Indeed, in one day, it is quite incredible what you could do in Washington D.C. There are such beautiful buildings. And you can walk from the beginning to the end and visit all of them. This is really cool. And we did not pay anything for our visit. Indeed, we only had to pay transportation to D.C. from our hotel and back. All the things we did in Washington were free.
Of course, the list I mentioned here is only the things we did. I am sure there are plenty of other things to do in Washington. We only did two of the Smithsonian museums, but there are many more! And most of them are free. I think only one of them has a fee. Overall, I think a trip to Washington is a very good frugal day!
If you plan to go there, you can watch this nice and short travel guide:
Have you ever been to Washington? What did you think of it?