19.08.2011 - 19.08.2011
Our day began at the notorious Watergate Complex, located on the banks of the Potomac River.
In 1972, the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, located on the sixth floor, were broken into on the orders of officials in the Nixon administration. Nixon's attempt to cover up their involvement ultimately led to his resignation - the only president in history to do so. That it took place here is, of course, the reason that every scandal since has been labelled with the suffix 'gate'.
A short walk south, at the opposite end of the National Mall to the Capitol, is the Lincoln Memorial. Inside the building is a huge statue of the great man himself.
From here, looking back towards the Capitol, is the Washington Memorial and Reflecting Pool. Unfortunately the pool wasn't doing much reflecting - it's in the process of being renovated so was just a large rectangle of earth.
On the National Mall there are a large number of free museums - both government owned and those run by the Smithsonian Institution - so we were spoiled for choice as to how to spend the afternoon. We started with the National Museum of American History. Among the exhibits was a huge flag, raised by soldiers in Baltimore in 1814, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner. That it was adopted as the national anthem as recently as 1931 was another reminder of how young the United States is. Nearby, at the National Archives, we joined a long queue to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Unfortunately photography was prohibited.
Our final destination was the National Air and Space Museum, a huge building that houses planes...
...rockets, moon buggies and a moon lander. Not a mere replica, but one that was built to be sent to the moon.
The weather has been hot and humid since we arrived in DC. We left to return to the hostel just as a thunderstorm was brewing.