Washington National Airport

So this morning we went to Great Falls near Washington to see a waterfall which was pretty impressive before heading to the airport. Then once I’d arrived and before I’d even checked in a delay was announced to my flight giving American a 100% delay record so far. Even Virgin trains usually beats that!

Anyhow with 3 hours to kill before the flight I went to the bookstore. First I found the rough guide to England so I checked out the entry for Oxford. It mentioned all the sensible sites to see such as christ church and the Radcliffe camera. It also mentioned quite a few pubs including all the good ones I like and the Bear which is 1 block south of high street a short way from the centre. This was their favourite and I’d be curious to know what it’s like. The other interesting book was the international book of sex wbich included such great chat up lines as “Do you come here often?” and “is it hot in here or is it just you?” in several languages. I was tempted to buy it for comedic value but it was clearly well fingered. Then I had a meal in an airport restaurant that looked good until I tasted the food!

Now I’m off to the gate hopefully my flight won’t be delayed further.

Washington DC part 2 (mostly not actually in Washington)

So the next day I went back into Washington DC, I was quite late up, so didn’t get in until lunchtime, but I still had time for two museums recommended the previous evening, first I tried to go up the Washington Monument, but then found to get tickets you had to queue before 8.30am when the ticket office opened, which seemed a bit much to ask for to be honest. So instead I went to the Holocaust museum, which was very moving and also tried incredibly hard to be unjudgemental towards all sorts of groups, from the Germans before the war, to the Allies who refused jewish immigration, to the Allies later who didn’t bomb the camps themselves. It was clear that it was an incredibly shocking event, much much more so than our recent history with terrorism. And it also shone an interesting light on the creation of Israel and the current problems in the Middle East. After that I went to the International Spy Museum, it was also very interesting and well worth a visit. This discussed the history of spycraft from WW2 onwards and I spent another 2 hours there. After that it was the early evening so the museums were all about to shut so I had to come back to where I was staying.

The next day I headed out to the Blue Ridge mountains by car, and we went on a 1.6 mile walk in the mountains which was good, we got some good photos of that too.

The Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains

As well as that we also saw some traditional buildings nearby such as the following church.

Typical Church in Virginia

Typical Church in Virginia

We also tried to find the Appalachian trail but we missed it as it started to rain so we had to go back to the car.

Then today we went on a canoe on the Potomac, which is the river which goes through Washington DC, fortunately we were a little further upstream, so the weather was good and it was also very peaceful, except for the very occasional interruption by a motorboat. We had lunch on the shore on an old dried up canal and rowed slowly downstream. Below is a photo of one of the many herons we saw:

A heron on the Potomac

A heron on the Potomac

Washington DC part 1

After New York I flew to Washington DC. However due to the plane being late it would have been quicker on the bus (and even though I only pay taxes probably cheaper too!). Once in Washington I got the metro to my mother cousins house where I was staying. The train was definitely nicer than New York too. Once I was there I was a little tired after my fairly extensive nights out in NY so I spent the morning asleep. After that in the afternoon we went to the air and space museum near Dulles airport which was a good afternoon out. There we saw a great IMAX movie called “Forces of nature”.

Then today I went into wasington itself seeing the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln memorial and the statue of einstien in the morning. Then after an excellent French lunch with the people I’m staying with I went back into the centre of Washington to see the library of congress which was very impressive.┬áIt had a rocky start; it was torched in 1812 by the British when they invaded Washington. At which point they bought Thomas Jeffersons library (he had the US’s biggest private collection) for nearly $25000. After that there was a further fire in 1851 which destroyed 2/3 of the books so they bought the fire protection up to scratch and in 1897 they gave the library its own building. There were also some other exhibitions on old maps and the bill of rights which were also very interesting. After that I wandered around the park and then went out with my dads friends for dinner. We went to an excellent Asian restuarant and I had sushi which was really good.

Moma, baseball and brooklyn

After visiting the UN two days ago I headed up to the museum of modern art (MOMA). The first thing I saw was an exhibition on prototype buildings; unfortunately they were too prototype, the best one was made of cellophane and metal so you had to touch the metal regularly to discharge the static from walking on the cellophane; not exactly practical! Then I went round the main museum and there were some pretty cool works including a pretend corridor in the wall which I fell for initially and many others (these can be viewed on flickr here)

After moma I went to a baseball game with some friends from New York. We saw the mets vs the marlins who they beat 3-0, it was an interesting experience too. Afterwards we went to a bar and I had some chicken. When it arrived there was enough to feed a family for a week; even though I had the smallest portion.

Then yesterday I went to brookyln firstly. I went to Brooklyn heights to try and go to the pizza restaurant Gramaldi’s. This restaurant apparently sells New York’s best pizza (or not depending on who I believe!) though due to the massive queue at 12:25 I unfortunately didn’t get to try it; I was too hungry to wait as I’d skipped breakfast having been out the night before. Then while in Brooklyn I took a look at the new York transit museum so. I could see how old the subway trains really were. It seems some of them may date back to the 1950’s or so but it wasn’t totally clear… I then went to the Brooklyn botanical garden and had a wander around that before returning to Manhatten. Then last night I went to a club called Pasha which was quite good but the music was over DJ’d. I didn’t know it was possible but as with many things in life it follows a bell shaped curve.

I’m going to try and upload photos later today though I don’t have many of Brooklyn as I forgot my camera battery.

Up at 7am and the statue of liberty

So I got up at 7am yesterday morning to head down to the statue of liberty.

Two days ago after I’d been to the 9/11 exhibition (which was very moving) I tried to go to the statue of liberty. Unfortunately it was 2pm so the tours for the day had all sold out. So I got up early to try again.

Fortunately they had tickets available when I got there at 9am, though that was only the beginning, there was a 1.5 hour queue to get into the statue due to the extremely tight security. Even then you only got into a museum and to climb to the base of the statue which was disappointing. After that I went to ellis island which was where the poor immigrants to the US were admitted around 1900 when it was in use. It was a really interesting museum and it discussed how immigration has occurred over the past several hundred years as well as the cultural changes from moving to a new land. They also had a video showing the personal stories of some of the immigrants. After that I went to Wall Street which we really interesting. I tried to get into the stock exchange but I wasn’t allowed as a tourist, you probably wouldn’t get into any others though. I did get to see a tour of the Federal building however.

After Wall Street I got the subway up to Chinatown and saw the Brooklyn and Manhatten bridges. Chinatown was really interesting and there weren’t many non-Asians around. I ate quote early in a really nice and cheap (I.e. less than $10, you can barely buy a sandwich for less, here Pret is cheap though still more expensive than it is in the UK) restaurant called East Corner Wanton; there I ate a dish I’d never heard of before called congee (my iPod had heard of it though :p). After continuing to wander through Chinatown I went up to Time Square and saw a jazz band playing; they sounded good and I got their CD but haven’t added it to my iPod yet.

Today I did my first load of washing before heading to the UN. The building itself as interesting and there was a guided tour around the general assembly room though there was yet another long queue so I decided not to bother. It is definitely appropriate for the UN to be in New York, it is probably the most multicultural city in the world; certainly one of the highest alongside London.

Finally I headed to the New York public library to upload this to my website, the New York library is a very beautiful building and also seems to have a lot of books. To compare it to Oxford I carried out a rigourous scientific study: searching for Condorcet’s 1785 work on election theory. Unfortunately for Oxford they lost; although the New York library doesn’t have the original like Oxford it does have an English translation which is much more useful (and the library is fully open to the public!)

PS photos will come from Washington I’m not hogging the hostels whole connection to do it and the Apple Store and library don’t allow plugging in of cameras.

More in New York

So last night I didn’t go to be early, but instead went up the Empire State building with a couple of people from my hostel. I got some really cool pictures of the New York skyline at night. Then this morning I walked up to Time Square, then got the subway to the bottom of Central Park and the Apple Store before getting back on the Subway and heading Downtown.

I’ve stuck the pictures I took on Flickr

Arrived in New York

After waiting for an hour to clear security, I picked up my waiting bag and caught the subway to the hostel. The train arrived promptly and thanks to the fact that new York subway trains don’t call at every stop we were soon in the centre of Manhatten. One thing I noticed about the subway was that aside from a few British tourists everyone else on the train looked poor (and they were also mostly Black or Hispanic) which was strange compared to public transport everywhere else I’ve used it (admittedly that is just Europe and Singapore :p). The train was also covered in graffiti and the stations looked pretty dodgy. The tube is great in comparison!

Anyway, enough on public transport, I did get to Manhattan and to my hostel. The hostel seems very cool and friendly and seems like a nice place to start my journey. It is also close to the sites and in a neighbourhood called Chelsea which seems like an average place to stay (the only thing it has on common with Chelsea in London is the cars parked on the street but there they belong to the staff)

After I arrived I went out to get some food, I got some African food from a restuarant just up the road it was quite spicy but tasty and very filling, definitely an interesting choice. New York is definitely the most multicultural place I’ve been so it should be interesting. Tomorrow I’ll be off to time square and then to have a explore of the city.

I’ll try and get some pictures up tomorrow when I’m using a computer not my iPod to post a blog post.

Packing

My big rucksack full of my stuff

My big rucksack full of my stuff

Today I’ve been packing my rucksack for my trip as I’m leaving in only 36 hours now.

I’ve had quite a lot of stuff to pack and my big rucksack and daysack are now full. Fortunately though the big rucksack only weighs 11.5kg at the moment which is well under the weight limit even for my flights with Budget Airlines.

All the photos (including one of me with both rucksacks on, if you’re on my Flickr friends list) can be seen on Flickr.