The train from Boston to NYC was pleasantly sparsely passengered. Not so the train from NYC to Washington DC, neither did I get the ‘quiet car’, but it was nevertheless an easy journey, much better than the hassle of flying. And arriving at the grand Union Station was like arriving at Grand Central Station must be like, though in some senses on a smaller scale.
After arriving, I had time for my first DC tourist stop: the Library of Congress, where else?! That is one impressive building! Not a lot is open to the public though so it’s hard to make many comparisons. One though, with the reading room at the State Library of Victoria: Melbourne’s measures up very well, as it does with the BL domed reading room. As libraries go though, the cloister at Boston Public Library is my pick of the bunch.
DC appears to have a good public transport system. I say ‘appears’ because I didn’t experience it to its best – it is badly, badly let down by its ticketing system: different tickets for each of the metro and the two bus services. There is an integrated card but I didn’t get one. Next day, as I was about to travel across town to get one (yes, I would have had to go to such lengths), I passed the ‘hop-on, hop-off’ bus. Since I was a tourist and it was going to tourist sites, why not? I foolishly bought a 48 hour pass – forgot to remember (!) until that night that I had other plans for the next day.
It took most of the day to go around the sites. I got of to see the Lincoln Memorial (impressive) and the Vietnam Memorial (what a waste of lives). Also the National Cathedral. It’s HUGE. The Episcopalians have snaffled a prime location on a hilltop in/near Georgetown – you can see it for miles. Very impressive inside too though I first headed for food and water – it was mid-afternoon by then. I was tempted to stay for choral Evensong but waiting for over an hour was that bit too much with me hot, tired and still suffering cold effects. So it was a bit more bus-riding before heading back to my BnB.