Relaxing on the National Mall in Washington DC

We were back in Washington DC last week, which is a place that we are very familiar with. The National Mall is a park that extends between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capital, which is approximately 1.9 miles long. It is obviously a huge draw for tourists that visit Washington DC as the Washington Monument sits at the heart of the park and the White House and Jefferson Memorial are also very close by. There are several walking paths throughout the park and vendors are there selling ice cream, water, and other items. There are also many food trucks in the surrounding area.

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Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool
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Lincoln Memorial
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Lafayette Square, Andrew Jackson Statue, and the White House
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World War II Memorial

It isn’t just a location for tourists, but the National Mall is also a popular place for locals to come and enjoy the scenery and to walk, jog, and bike along the many paths. On nice days, you will find many families and couples out enjoying the weather and relaxing in the park. Since we have been to all of the museums and seen all of the important sites on previous visits to Washington, we decided to enjoy the park as the locals do, simply walking along the Reflecting Pool and having a relaxing day in our Nation’s Capital.

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Another View of the Washington Monument
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Andrew Jackson Statue in Lafayette Square
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Enjoying a Relaxing Day
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Walking Towards the Lincoln Memorial

Many of the most important museums are located in the general vicinity of the National Mall as well, including the Smithsonian Museums. We also walked through Lafayette Square, which is on the other side of the White House and then walked passed the White House on our way to the National Mall. If you’d like to go to one of the historic restaurants in Washington, we’d recommend going to the Lafayette Square area where you can find many restaurants with a colorful history. Even if you are visiting Washington DC for the first time, it is worthwhile taking your time while you are at the National Mall and taking your time to truly enjoy it and relax.

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White House
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Looking Up at the Monument Through the Trees
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Fountains at the WWII Memorial
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View from Lafayette Square
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One of the Many Statues

 

We Have the Airport Blues

We have been on work trips three out of the last four weeks, which is the complete opposite of traveling for pleasure. We have almost spent more time sitting in airports than we have in our own home, which is definitely not fun. Every airport is different in some ways and yet every airport is the same in many ways as well, especially in the United States. There can be a certain sense of comfort when you are in an airport, but there can also be a certain sense of apprehension as well. They can be euphoric as you anticipate the start of an adventure or they can just feel like a maze of confusion that needs to be navigated.

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Airport Terminal
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Airports Tend to have Artistic Architecture
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Sterile Environment
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Hustling to a Gate

At times, airports can provide a sense of excitement and energetic motion as people scurry to get to their gates either embarking on a trip of a lifetime or just trying to make their way home. Unfortunately, we find that people suddenly lose all sense of their surroundings when they are in airports and they aimlessly wander in front of other people, suddenly stop in front of you, or make erratic changes in direction. We certainly understand that for people that don’t travel often, airports can be overwhelming and confusing, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t suddenly become oblivious to their surroundings. Late at night, though, airports can become rather eerie when the hustle and bustle is replaced with a graveyard-like silence. No longer are the overhead speakers constantly announcing planes being boarding, gate changes, or reminding you not to leave your bags unattended and your own footsteps echo through the empty hallways.

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Bustling Activity
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Empty Shuttle Station in the Airport at Night
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Alone in the Hallways
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Places to Go

Obviously, if you have time, airports can be a great place to people watch as there is such a wide variety of people that make their way through these transportation hubs. You can see people from all cultures, ages, lifestyles, and personalities, all linked in a common pursuit, to make it to their destination. It is also the one place where you can see people sitting at a bar first thing in the morning and no one seems to judge them as they gather liquid courage before their flight. You can definitely see the anxiety on the faces of the people making their way to their gates. Will they miss their flight, will the flight be on time, will they get their carry-on bag onto the plane, who will they sit next to, will their be screaming children on the plane, etc. The last few weeks have given us all of these experiences and at the moment, we are hoping not to go to an airport until our next personal trip, which is in three weeks and is to Cairo, Egypt. Do you have a love/hate relationship with airports like we do?

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Empty Baggage Carousel
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Judgement Free Zone
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Empty Airport Train
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Eerie Lighting when You are Alone

 

Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Walking the streets of Old Town Alexandria was very nostalgic for us and reminded us of walking the streets of old towns in Europe. The history of Old Town Alexandria may not go back as far as those medieval towns, but it does have its roots in the foundation of the United States. Situated just outside of the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., the cobblestone streets of the city were once walked by many historic figures that influenced and shaped the country. Even today, you can still find gas lit lamps on the sides of the brick buildings that date back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

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King Street is the Main Street of Old Town
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Walking the Side Streets
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Beautiful Homes
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Historic Streets with Shops and Restaurants

Today, of course, the streets are lined with upscale cars and tourists enjoying the variety of restaurants, retail stores, antique shops, and museums that are in the area. It is a residential area with a very walkable lifestyle, although it is a very expensive area to live in. At night the streets are lit up and the streets are full of people enjoying a night out on the town, especially during the summer, but even in the fall when we were there.

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Nighttime in Old Town Alexandria
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Autumn in Old Town
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Brick Buildings
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Working Gas Lamps

In the early days of its history, it was a busy seaport as boats would make their way up the Potomac River to deliver their goods to be sold in the Northern Virginia area. Today, the waterfront area is a bustling art district with the focal point being the converted Torpedo Factory, which houses a variety of artists selling their artwork. There are also many restaurants with views of the river where you can enjoy a nice meal while watching the yachts, river taxi, and dinner boats that make their way along the Potomac.

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Waterfront Restaurant
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Sitting Riverside
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Yacht on the Potomac River
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Marina in Old Town

We had a short visit, so we spent most of our time walking the streets and stopping in a few shops and restaurants, but we did take the time to tour the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. Founded in 1792, it was an active apothecary in this particular location from 1805 to 1933. Upon closing, it was immediately purchased and preserved as a museum, with all of the original ingredients still in their glass jars almost a hundred years later. Although most of the sales of the apothecary were to other pharmacies around the area, but they did mix and fill prescriptions for many people, including George Washington and his family as they have notes from Martha Washington requesting prescriptions.

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Apothecary Sign
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Inside of the Museum
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Glass Bottles
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Unicorn Root and Mandrake Root

A visit to the Washington D.C. area should definitely include taking time to step back in time and walk the streets of Old Town Alexandria. Although the restaurants can be a little pricey, there are an abundance of choices and something can be found to suit anyone’s tastes. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, walking through the art district and window shopping as you walk by the various shops is still a great way to spend an afternoon.

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Cobblestone Streets
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King Street Trolley
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Historic Buildings
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Apothecary Entrance
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Glass Harp and Christmas Music
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Close-Up on the Glass Bottles in the Apothecary
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Enjoying the Harbor
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Diversity of Buildings