DC

Late on Saturday afternoon we packed up the car and made the short drive from Winchester into Washington DC. One of our neighbours had suggested that we might enjoy spending a night at Washington’s famous Willard Hotel, the hotel where every US President has either slept or attended an event. It is also the place where Martin Luther King, Jr wrote his famous “I have a dream” speech. Visiting so close to Christmas meant we would get to experience the hotel all decked out in its festive attire, and as it is right in the heart of DC, we could explore many of the nearby attractions on foot.

The foyer at the Willard.
The foyer at the Willard. Carol singers were entertaining the guests as we arrived.

After we’d checked in and done lots of oohing and aahing about how beautiful everything was, we headed out to grab a quick bite and have a look at the National Christmas Tree. There were crowds of people admiring the tree which is located very close to the White House – or as Olive and Edie like to call it, “look! Barack Obama’s house”.

The National Christmas Tree - a Colorado blue spruce from Virginia.
The National Christmas Tree – a Colorado blue spruce from Virginia.

The next stop on our nighttime exploration was the Lincoln Memorial. This classic Greek temple style building houses a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, and inscriptions from two of his most famous speeches. It would have been a stunning site by day, but by night it was incandescent, seeming to bathe the surrounding area in a warm glow.

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial.
The Abraham Lincoln Memorial.
Honest Abe with a couple of Kiwi admirers.
Honest Abe with a couple of Kiwi admirers.

From here we strolled down one side of the Reflecting Pool ending up at the National World War Two Memorial, a memorial to all those Americans who served during the second world war.

Olive exploring some of the 56 pillars that form the memorial.
Olive exploring some of the 56 pillars that form the memorial.

By this time we had a couple of pairs of tiring legs so we headed back to our beautiful room at the Willard. Throughout our walk that evening we were treated to many views of the Washington Monument, which is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk. The base of the monument is circled by a ring of American flags which, after the tragic events of Friday, were gently fluttering at half mast.

The Washington Monument.
The Washington Monument.

Our goal for Sunday was a visit to the United States Botanic Garden. I’d read about their amazing holiday exhibit Season’s Greenings, on this blog and so after a fabulous breakfast Willard hotel style we began to walk towards the garden.

Enjoying pounding the pavements in a big city again.
Enjoying pounding the pavements in a big city again.

On the way to the Garden we discovered the US Navy Memorial, which consists of a statue known as The Lone Sailor overlooking the Granite Sea – an exact replica of the world’s oceans. The girls had lots of fun identifying different countries and oceans etched into the ground.

Edie was initially reluctant to approach The Lone Sailor - she was convinced it was one of those awful performance artists :)
Edie was initially reluctant to approach The Lone Sailor – she was convinced it was one of those awful performance artists.
Just for you Mrs Olga - we're standing on Puerto Rico!
Just for you Mrs Olga – we’re standing on Puerto Rico!
Our visit would not be complete without a bit of stomping all over New Zealand :)
Our visit would not have been complete without a bit of stomping all over New Zealand.

The Botanic Garden is located on the grounds of the US Capitol, so we were able to tick another landmark off our list.

The Capitol.
The Capitol.

After a quick look at the Capitol’s exterior we joined the queue outside the Botanic Gardens. Fortunately we’d arrived early and it wasn’t long before we were inside enjoying the wreaths, garlands, living Christmas ornaments, model trains, buildings made entirely from plant materials and a huge display of poinsettias.

Grrr - a green bear!
Grrr – a green bear!
One of my favourite parts of the exhibit. So beautiful and delicate.
One of my favourite parts of the exhibit. So beautiful and delicate.
Thomas the Tank Engine was a real crowd pleaser. Behind him, you might be able to make out the outstretched plant man.
Thomas the Tank Engine was a real crowd pleaser. Behind him, you might be able to make out the outstretched plant man.

As well as enjoying all the Season’s Greenings exhibits, we wandered through the conservatory where we were able to see so many varied and eye catching plants.

This creeping cactus was one of my favourites - looks like it belongs under the sea.
This creeping cactus was one of my favourites – looks like it belongs under the sea.
I also loved seeing the huge variety of orchids on display.
I also loved seeing the huge variety of orchids on display.

After leaving the gardens we wandered the streets for a bit longer, checked out a downtown Christmas market and stumbled across the Petersen House, which is where Abraham Lincoln died, a day after being shot at Ford’s Theatre.

Lots of people queuing to visit this historic site.
Lots of people queuing to visit this historic site.

Despite the shock and anxiety I was feeling after the senseless loss of life on Friday, we were able to enjoy our weekend – it felt important to be doing something positive with those I love the most. I shall add only one word to the thousands that have already been said or written about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary…

arohanui
arohanui

5 Replies to “DC”

  1. You just make me want to take an airplane and be there right now :-D. My brother lives in N.J., so maybe one day we take the advantage to visit N.Y. and D.C.

    Little Miss Olive! You remembered where my Enchanted Island is located! You surely brought a huge smile to my face 🙂

    That botanical garden is beautiful indeed. How can one not stay in contemplation and amazement in front of this beauty. Thanks for sharing the photos and your experience.

    I must confess that my first thoughts were with you and your family when we heard the news about Connecticut, especially when you have little children. It left me speechless.

    Arohanui

  2. Lovely pics brought back memories. Dad and I were there many years ago.. Lincoln Memorial was inspiring and of course we have memories of
    Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”speech at this spot, also more flippantly
    Forest Gump doing his bit in the reflecting pool!! After seeing Lincoln’s memorial – viewing of Daniel Day Lewis in the upcoming “:Lincoln” must surely be a must. When there is so much good about America one hopes that Obama
    will not let these little children’s lives be taken in vain and do something poslitive
    like banning all guns.
    Love
    Mum

    1. Hi Nancy – taking some husbandly license here – Martin Luther King actually prepared for the speech at the Willard and departed there for the Lincoln memorial, the girls did a similar thing just they were on scooters and got there and said ‘cool’ 🙂

  3. Hi Chris still love your blog… Uncle Jack, Nicky. Cori and I were there a few times for soccer tournaments, but we did manage to do some sight seeing in between games. The parents billeted our team and gave them a great time.. good memories.

  4. Wonderful to see the family visiting the impressive sights of Washington DC. What a privilege to actually stay where Martin Luther King prepared before his famous speech. Olive and Edie are receiving such an incredibly rich education!

    Love the amazing photography of the awe inspiring Lincoln memorial – have been recently reading some inspirational quotes from the man himself :-
    “The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” (17 September 1859, speech in Cincinnati, OH)”
    “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men.”

    Happy Christmas to you all and we wish you all the peace and joy of the season xxx

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