It’s my first day here in Bethesda staying with friends and this morning we head out of Maryland to Alexandria, Virginia-a quaint little marina town on the Potomac river. It’s beautiful rural territory and a far cry from the bustling city I left behind yesterday.
We park up and wander off Lee street to be greeted by furniture and ice cream stores and a smattering of parasol covered cafes. Shop names announce their wares on wooden boards which dance from chains in the light breeze as we pass by.
Down on the docks people are enjoying the weather on their boats, and locals sip drinks and chat amicably on deck. We sit a while gazing across the expansive river as the sky changes from overcast to brightest blue.
We stop for food where I am able to perpetuate the cycle of crime by getting rid of my fake $20 the ATM spat out at me in New York (wait, did I technically just commit a felony and publicly announce this??); then hit up a few of the nautical themed boutiques.
It’s mid afternoon by now and we choose to leave this sleepy time-warp town to the rest of its weekend and set off squarely into the District of Columbia.
Not technically within a state, Washington is in fact a District with a Mayor as opposed to representing Senators. We enter over the Memorial Bridge and pretty soon we’re in monument territory.
A saunter down Pennsylvania Avenue brings us to The White House and General Jackson’s statue. It’s not as busy with tourists as I imagined and I get a good look into Obama and Michelle’s residence.
Sadly ‘Hapless Brit’ doesn’t score me a photo with the secret service officer (sorry we don’t do that mam!) who is observing the few small groups of protestors warily with his gun firmly holstered on his hip.
Next we walk along to the World War II Monument, with its centre piece a cascading fountain surrounded by epitaphs depicting each States contribution to the 1939-45 fighting. I’m surprised to find this was only a recent addition in 2004 by George W. but feel it’s probably the only good thing he initiated during his Presidency.
Next we walk along the Reflecting Pool (which famously appeared in the demonstration scene in Forrest Gump!), to the Lincoln Memorial-which is astronomical in size. Climbing the steps I feel as if I’m ascending into an Ancient Greek temple about to make a sacrificial offering. I enter and there’s old Abe, a vision in white marble, staring serenely down at me. I overhear a ranger explaining the myth that his creator carved another face hidden in the back of Lincoln’s hair to a somewhat disbelieving young boy.
It’s beautiful here and the site also offers a jaw-dropping view back out onto the obelisk of the Washington Monument.
Sites done and we head back to find the car, passing by students moving out their dorms of the George Washington University, semester completed.
We leave DC over the Roosevelt Bridge and I reflect (without the pool) on my day; I’m drenched in capital history and excited to see what else DC has to offer.