Hello! I'm Maggie, and this is my first addition to this book.
Okay, so let me get something straight. I actually live just a couple of hours away from D.C., so this is mainly what I remember from a few years back before I even moved to Maryland in the United States.
Growing up, my family didn't go on flights. I've only set foot on a plane twice (don't get excited, it was a round trip), so don't judge when I tell you that we took a 25 hour road trip across the U.S. to the nation's capital. And yes, it's as bad as it sounds. Luckily, we stayed in a small hotel after 17 hours of driving. And then we were back on the road.
We lodged at a relative's house just outside of the city. We had a basic plan of what we were going to do the next day:
1) Take the metro to the heart of the city (the District of Columbia is crowded, I'm telling you)
2) Walk around
3) Go to the Lincoln Memorial
4) Go to the Washington Monument
5) Pray to God that some other museum is still open because walking in D.C. takes ALL DAY
Let's just say... we tried our best to follow the plan.
We drove our car to the metro station outside of the city, got our passes, made it to the platform... and then my mom realized that she had forgotten her phone in the car.
So she and my brother had to go back to the car (my mom is paranoid and needed a "strong male" to protect her, even though my brother was just barely a teenager at the time), get her phone, refill their metro passes with money, and meet back with me, my dad, and my two sisters on the platform.
The ride to D.C. was fine, other than my then 8-year-old self was seated next to a random middle-aged man for close to an hour. That was NOT fun.
We made it out of the station, and the streets were PACKED. It was still rush hour in the capital, so a mixture of workers, fellow tourists, and locals were shoving past me in a vast sea of sweaty bodies under the rays of a warm July sun.
A little pro tip: if you're in Washington, D.C. in the middle of summer and you see someone selling water for under $3, that is a STEAL. Grab it before anyone else can! Some museums won't allow food or drink, so keeping a dispensable bottle handy is probably a good idea for water fountains.
We luckily saw a guy selling huge bottles of water for only a dollar each! It was early in the day and not too hot yet, so we bought ourselves some before he could run out.
Another pro tip: there is this thing in some cities called the Circulator. I'm not sure what other cities it is in. It used to cost money, but it was recently made free in Washington, D.C.. It is a hop-on-hop-off bus that travels to all of D.C.'s best landmarks and museums.
However, it wasn't free when we first visited.
So, we had to walk EVERYWHERE. Driving in the nation's capital is a major pain, so walking was our best (not to mention cheapest) option.
The metro was near the White House, so we were able to walk alongside the fence, where a few security guards eyed my bear-of-a-dad suspiciously.
We made our way to the Lincoln Memorial, which felt like a furnace inside. We decided to take a break on the steps, but we had to leave after an old lady yelled at me for attempting to do parkour over a bench (hey, I was bored).
We went to the Washington Monument which, if you're not familiar with it, is a giant obelisk that is directly across from the Capital Building. Naturally, we went to the Capital Building next.
I'm not sure how, but we managed to get the Speaker of the House's assistant as our tour guide. She showed us a tunnel that led from the Capital Visitor Center to the Jefferson Building and the Library of Congress. Both were very beautiful, by the way. Some of the marble stairs inside were warped over time, so they sloped inwards, which was really cool.
We walked to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, which had a line of people going out the door, but we waited in it anyway. It took about twenty minutes to get inside, but once we did, it was well worth it. The museum is absolutely gorgeous. Words can do it no justice, so I won't even try.
Food in the National Mall's museums is convenient, but very expensive, so we decided to head out of the museum at about 2:00 p.m. to look for a restaurant.
We ended up at a sandwich place called Potbelly. Their sandwiches were amazing! My favorite part about the place was their chips. I'm Louisianan, both and raised, so when I saw a shelf stocked full of Cajun-style Zapps kettle chips, I near about SWOONED.
Anyway, once we were finished, almost every tourist destination in the city had lines out the door and across the street!
We wanted to have at least one more stop before an hour on the metro, so we headed off to the Jefferson Memorial. It was remarkably peaceful for a hot summer's day. The memorial was surrounded by water, so it had a calm sort of isolation much apart from the business of the bustling city it called home. It was a nice end to our day in D.C.
We trekked off to the nearest metro stop and rode away.
I've been to D.C. many times since. But I can hardly remember any of those times as much as the first.
So I encourage you: if you ever get the chance, visit Washington, D.C.! My favorite time of year is near the Cherry Blossom Festival, because that's when all of the cherry blossoms bloom. Then again, that's also when visiting becomes the priciest.
Well, whenever you decide to go, there will be things to see, places to go, and people to meet in Washington, D.C.!