Washington DC

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Having just devoured the second season of Huse of Cards before we left NZ I was pretty excited to get to see what DC had to offer, but didn’t expect to be quite as captivated and blown away by the capital city as I was. Again, just being able to see with my very own eyes such well known landmarks, and to really be able to see history alive in front of me was a pretty great feeling.

I thought we’d covered a lot of ground walking in NYC, but it turned out to be nothing in comparison. The  beautifully warm (bordering on stinking hot, I don’t know how people in DC cope in Summer) Spring weather was incredibly beautiful, and arriving just as the cherry blossoms were on full bloom we decided to pound the pavement every step of the way (thank god for sneakers!!)
The day we explored the National Mall was probably one of the most memorable days of my trip so far. We happened to be there on the same day as a group of World War Two veterans from Austin, Texas. After all this time it was their first visit to the monuments and memorials, many of which celebrated and remembered the sacrifice and efforts of them and their fellow vets. At the women’s memorial we met a World War Two nurse who thanked us for caring enough to visit, it was a pretty humbling experience.
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The Martin Luther King memorial only opened in 2011, and I’d have to say it was one of my favourites, surrounded by blooming cherry blossoms it was pretty inspiring. With the images of  MLK’s I have A Dream speech fresh in my mind, walking along the reflection pool to the Lincoln Memorial was also quite a magic moment.
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I think our whole DC experience was definitely all the richer for our timing with the cherry blossoms. The trees are only in peak bloom for a few days of the year and I was worried we would miss them. But in the end we hit it perfectly and I got lost in the amazing-ness of the flowers. I think I took about a million photos of them, but nothing quite compares to actually being in amongst them all.
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Of course, like everywhere, we weren’t alone in our admiration for the flowers, with the cherry blossom festival in full swing, I felt like the whole world had joined us in DC that weekend. But we were extremely lucky to have made two new wonderfully amazing friends at the wedding in Phoenix who helped us escape the craziness of the National Mall and see some that were tucked away in their neighbourhood – so beautiful.
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Dara and Eby were also responsible for redefining what we know as BBQ food. When they asked if we’d be keen on BBQ for dinner, I expected a barbie of sausages and chops. But no, in the good old U S of A this is what BBQ food means:
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Ribs, spicy sausages, pulled pork, jalapeños wrapped in bacon, all with a side of grits and mashed potatoes. Sure it might look like a heart attack on a plate but oh my it was delicious!!!!!
The next night when we couldn’t decide where to dine out, we decided dining in might be a better option. So we grabbed some city bikes and like some kind of very tame bike gang (I was very concerned it was legal to ride without helmets) we hooned through town, back to their apartment. And after nearly two weeks of restaurant eating it was so nice to relax with some wine in someone’s home. I’m sure I would’ve loved DC no matter what, but Dara and Eby made us feel so much more at home in the city, in fact I’m pretty sure I left a tiny bit of my heart right there with them.
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Unfortunately we didn’t have time to make it to many of the incredible Smithsonian Museums. We had a look around the Natural History and the Space and Air museums, but all of those places you could literally devote hours to. One place we did spend quite a bit of time however was the Newseum. While it’s not free  it’s definitely worth the price you pay, exploring news and journalism through historical events it was a must do for us. Plus it had an Anchor Man exhibit, and an interactive area where they had a green screen and auto-cue so you could pretend to be a reporter which was a little bit hilarious!
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One of the things I love most about America is how excited people get when they hear you’re from New Zealand, and DC was no exception. You’d think sometimes you were the first Kiwi to ever visit there. There were some seriously hard core looking police officers at Capitol Hill who broke out into buckets of smiles and laughter when they learned where we were from.  14 years later one of them still couldn’t quite get over how amazing it was that a place called Gisborne in New Zealand was the first place in the world to ring in the millennium. Gotta love being a Kiwi!
It’s hard to find the words to express how much I loved this place, I’m already trying to plot how I might be able to get back there!


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