We awoke early on the Monday morning & rushed across Manhattan to Penn(sylvania) Station for the next leg of our journey - an Amtrak train to Washington, D.C., home of the President!
After a 3 hour train journey we arrived in to Union Station and a quiet and grey Washington. There was a threat of rain on the horizon but it felt very peaceful, with hardly a soul around ('cause they were all busy working hard in big important government jobs, obviously!). We stepped out on to Columbus Circle, where a replica of the Liberty Bell, a bicentennial gift from the American Legion, sits surrounded by the 50 flags of the U.S. states.
From the station we headed to the United States Capitol, the meeting place of the US Congress that sits at the top of Capitol Hill. It is magnificently huge & aside from the White House, is the best known symbol of D.C. Every 4 years the Capitol plays host to the presidential inauguration, with Thomas Jefferson (the 3rd President of the United States) being the first in 1801.
After the Capitol we set off to find somewhere to eat, and wandered past the Thomas Jefferson building of the Library of Congress - the second largest library in the world by number of items catalogued. The library is housed in four buildings in Washington and the Thomas Jefferson building is the oldest. In front of the building, and pictured above, is The Court of Neptune - a bronze fountain that features the King of the Sea & his sons.
After a late lunch we walked in the rain to The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, one that we both fancied visiting. D.C. has a great wealth of museums & galleries, with 17 of the 19 Smithsonian museums based there. Each building is huge - as you would expect in the States, and all the ones in Washington have free admission.
We saw some incredible items on display, such as The Spirit of St. Louis (top picture), the single engine & single seat monoplane that was flown by Charles Lindbergh on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927 and the Wright Flyer, built by the Wright brothers in 1903 and was the first successful powered aircraft.
One exhibit I was really excited to see was the Amelia Earhart one. She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean & an incredible woman! The plane on display is her Lockheed Vega 5B, a single engine plane she intended to fly to Paris from Newfoundland in 1932. Due to mechanical problems she instead landed in Northern Ireland after a 14 hours 56 minutes flight.
Sadly most of The Smithsonian museums close at 5.30pm for most of the year, so our visit was slightly rushed, but we managed to take in quite a lot before heading to our accommodation, where our hosts kindly invited us to join their dinner party - a perfect end to our first day in Washington!