“Traveller, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.
Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.”
~ Antonio Machado
We were creeping close to yet another weekend in the American summer, and were itching for yet another American city to be discovered through our own eyes and minds.
This time up, it was Washington, or simply D.C., the beloved capital of the United States of America! *polite applause*
A Greyhound bus from midtown Manhattan at an early am will take you to Washington which is close to 4 hours away or so. The city was just about waking up but we could hear the enticing calls from the National Mall charming the history freaks in us!
National Mall, the two mile green stretch is one of the most (if not THE most) powerful and historic stretches of land in the world! With the US Capitol, the White House and Lincoln Memorial on the three ends, and housing the Smithsonian, this is the epicenter of civic America and Washington tourism!
We started our journey from the eastern end, from the Capitol building. This massive white building, surrounded by gardens with flowers in full bloom, the seat of the Congress built in neoclassical style was thronged by over enthusiastic tourists (like us) even that early in the morning! Though the visitor center was closed that day, but just the walk around the grounds admiring the blossoms and the neighboring architecture is good enough.
We then moved west ward towards the Smithsonian. But before that we were greeted by a crowd of more than a hundred, dressed in the most colourful outfits and carrying the Bolivian national flag. Turns out we were right in the middle of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations . This was the early morning parade by different folkrolic groups representing the pride and heritage of their countries.
After lots of culture and sun soaking, we walked further down to the Smithsonian. Collectively known as the Smithsonian Institution, the complex consists of 15 separate museums and the National Zoo. One can spend pretty much the entire day weaving in and out of the several museum galleries.
A short walk away, is the monument for the founder of the republic, the Washington Monument. Legacy of the country’s first president looms large over the city in the form of the world’s largest stone structure and its tallest obelisk. Unfortunately, it was closed during our visit (it had been closed since an August 2011 earthquake, opening only recently this year), but I can just imagine the amazing panoramic views of the city from the top of the tower.
Further up in our history lesson were the different war memorials. The enormous World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial, all of them so moving so as to remind one of the countless ultimate sacrifices made by thousands of soldiers.
Finally, the most impressive memorial of them all, dedicated to the leader who saved the republic, the Lincoln Memorial. Grand is an understatement as one climbs up the stairs of the memorial to see a massive Lincoln in Zeus style in a Greek temple! Engraved at the entrance are the words of Martin Luther King’s immortal “I have a dream” speech. As one stands at the stairs, backed by the mighty Lincoln, overlooking the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument all the way to the Capitol building, one cannot help but recreate the scene from that morning when Dr King delivered his speech to a swelling crowd.
Finally last stop for the day was the National Zoo, which like other members of the Smithsonian Institution, has free entry. The zoo, one of the oldest in the United States, has several interesting exhibits including the Giant Panda trail, the Elephant Trails, the Great Cats and it definitely one of the most wonderful and tiring ways of concluding our very fascinating walk through history and DC!