New York & Washington ‘19 – Day Seven – The Other End of the Mall

Today we hit the other end of the Mall taking the Circulator down to Union station as our start point. The station is a destination in itself irrespective of whether you are taking the train. It has shops, a food hall, a beautiful entrance hall and even some trains.

We walked out from the station past the Capitol building and made our way to the Library of Congress. It is difficult to convey just how beautiful the interior is with its high decorated walls and ceilings. You could wander round the entrance freely and then we queued to take a look at the reading room, which is what you can see below. It is a real gem.

From. the Library we made our way to the botanic gardens which was a large glasshouse containing exotic plants from all over the world. It was a great spot but hot, hotter than outside, and humid too so in the end it was a relief to get back outside. I did pick up some ideas for our garden though!

So far this holiday we have walked an average of ten miles a day and the legs are beginning to scream enough! Helen has been talking about getting a scooter for a while and we had seen in Athens these electric powered scooters left everywhere. It was the same in both NYC and here in Washington. These are a little like the bikes that you can hire where you can basically dump them pretty much anywhere and a GPS tracker allows the next user to find them. So we gave them a go. This is reasonably straightforward once you have downloaded the app and registered your credit card.

We scootered from the gardens back to Union station along the pavement. I have to say that it was great fun, as you can see from the video below, but I am not convinced that it is terribly safe. At some points I reached 12mph on it (there is a speedometer on the handle bars) when I could see that there wasn’t any likelihood of hitting or being hit by anyone else but still I’m not sure all would be so careful.

In the afternoon we had booked to go on a tour around the Capitol Building. A few years ago I had gone to the Houses of Parliament for PM’s question time. It had been a chore then to get tickets and access and I can’t imagine that it has got any easier. Not so the Capitol Building. We booked online, dashed through the security and queued up with the hundreds of others who were also there for an organised tour. If you want to learn about democracy grant the people access is a great way to do it.

The tour started with a short film about America and democracy etc. etc. before we were split into smaller groups and given radio headsets so that we could hear our guide. Goodness only knows how many groups there were going round at any one time but there were lots.

There were really only three places that the tour took you and the rotunda was the main attraction. Sitting beneath the huge St. Paul’s Cathedral knock off dome was a space where presidents and other important Americans are lain in state. Around the walls were several giant paintings depicting the birth of America and statues of presidents from each state including Ronald Regan and Gerald Ford.

The guide was great making sure that he knew where everyone came from and then tailored the talk to include information about their state or, in our case, how wicked the English had been to them!

Until the Houses of Parliament you were able to go onto the floor of the house if it wasn’t in session but that required a separate booking and another queue so we skipped that.

We walked back to Union station, we would have scootered back but when we found some the battery was low and so we couldn’t rent it. It is not clear how it regains charge so it can be used again. Then we got the circulator back to Georgetown and our hotel.

Georgetown is an attractive place set about half an hour from the centre of Washington. Tomorrow, our last day, we had earmarked to explore it but for tonight we made the most of the good weather by sitting on the rooftop bar and taking in the views.