Are you sick of me talking about DC yet?! Well this will be the final blog about it, I promise!
My time in Washington, DC will always be treasured. I feel very fortunate that I was able to visit the Capitol and experience everything I got to explore. It is something I would suggest of every citizen - even if you aren't big into history. I always felt like something bigger than myself was going on while I was there. I was walking in the same city as brilliant men before me and activists who risked their lives to make a point and drive change. More than once I got choked up with the knowledge that I was getting a chance to see living history. I am not someone who would classify myself as overly patriotic - I am proud to be an American and could not imagine living anywhere else, but I also realize that our country has made grave mistakes and that no nation is ever perfect - but visiting the district made me keenly aware of what excellence our country has produced. Men and women who were light years ahead of their times, brilliant scientists who continued to push the boundaries and brave men and women who put their lives on the line so that I could walk the streets without worry. I was aware of all these things prior to my trip, but visiting drove it home for me. It was truly an unforgettable experience and easily one of the best vacations I have ever had.
That being said, no vacation is perfect. One thing in particular that really got under my skin was the aloofness of students who were visiting the various monuments and museums. These teens seemed to care less what they were experiencing and I felt that perhaps they should not have been there. For example, the Holocaust Museum. It is a very somber place and it tells a story of the horrific atrocities that took place and is very graphic in certain parts. Before you go in, you are asked to remain quiet, respectful and somber as it is a place of both learning but also of mourning. You never know who might be in the museum with you. There were a group of students who felt that this museum was a place to laugh and joke and tell stories, without ever paying attention to the information in front of them. I was offended at their behavior and made a comment to my husband that perhaps an age requirement should be instituted for the museum. The group was so loud, in fact, that the docent of the museum had to ask the group to leave because they were disturbing people so much. It was just upsetting to me to watch these kids brush through such an important part of history without ever feeling the tangible effects of the problem.
Other than that, though, our trip was pretty amazing. We stayed outside of the district in Arlington and I have to say - it was the best decision we could have made. Staying inside DC is very costly and we were able to get a nice hotel close to the Metro for the price of what DC wanted to charge for a Holiday Inn. If you are planning your trip to DC, my suggestion would be to stay at the Hyatt Arlington - they were courteous, professional and attentive. They even gave a list of nearby food places when we checked in. Additionally, it is very conveniently located next to the Metro - we were less than a block away which made the trip much more relaxing.
Other tips I have for you? Get a Smart Trip card on day one of your trip. It costs $2 for the card, but is reusable and has no expiration date on it. We used the card for both the Metro and the bus we took back to the airport. It was convenient and easy to carry, rather than having to worry about using up one fare card all in one day.
Learn the Metro system. DC is a big city and luckily has an amazing system of public transportation. Familiarize yourself with the Metro System before you leave so that you are comfortable among arrival. It is a fairly simple system to navigate - much less complicated than larger cities like New York, for example - but I have always found that reviewing the maps prior help relieve some stress for me. The Smithsonian station is the station to use if you are planning on visiting any of the museums and the National Mall [I wish they would put one close to the National Mall but I understand why they haven't yet] and Federal Triangle is your stop for the White House.
With that, I end my recap of my trip to Washington, DC. I hope you have enjoyed it all.
[All opinions and photos are my own and I was not paid for any review.]