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.

IMG_2523
Airport Terminal
IMG_2524
Airports Tend to have Artistic Architecture
IMG_2504
Sterile Environment
IMG_2521
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.

IMG_2507
Bustling Activity
IMG_2514
Empty Shuttle Station in the Airport at Night
IMG_2512
Alone in the Hallways
IMG_2508
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?

IMG_2526
Empty Baggage Carousel
IMG_2509
Judgement Free Zone
IMG_2516
Empty Airport Train
IMG_2517
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.

IMG_2002
King Street is the Main Street of Old Town
IMG_1972
Walking the Side Streets
IMG_6878
Beautiful Homes
IMG_1957
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.

IMG_2013
Nighttime in Old Town Alexandria
IMG_2005
Autumn in Old Town
IMG_1969
Brick Buildings
IMG_1976
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.

IMG_1943
Waterfront Restaurant
IMG_1953
Sitting Riverside
IMG_6876
Yacht on the Potomac River
IMG_1940
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.

IMG_1983
Apothecary Sign
IMG_1996
Inside of the Museum
IMG_6898
Glass Bottles
IMG_1999
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.

IMG_1963
Cobblestone Streets
IMG_1958
King Street Trolley
IMG_6923
Historic Buildings
IMG_6888
Apothecary Entrance
IMG_6865
Glass Harp and Christmas Music
IMG_1992
Close-Up on the Glass Bottles in the Apothecary
IMG_6870
Enjoying the Harbor
IMG_1975
Diversity of Buildings

Washington DC – A National Treasure

With its array of monuments, museums, and landmarks, Washington DC is truly a world-class city.  You could easily spend a couple of weeks in Washington and still not see everything that it has to offer, which is somewhat ironic for the two of us.  We both lived outside of major cities growing up, one of us outside of DC and the other outside of Philadelphia and other than taking friends and family into the city when they came to visit, we avoided the tourist locations due to the crowds.  So, despite living close to great cities for much of our lives, we actually saw more of those cities later, after we had moved to Colorado and then gone back as tourists ourselves.

The United States Capital
The United States Capital
The Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument
The Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
War Memorial Statues
War Memorial Statues

We had taken the kids to Washington during the summer of 2001 and it was an amazing time, albeit a whirlwind trip.  Unfortunately, it was one of the hottest and muggiest summers for the area, one where the heat was downright oppressive.  At the time, the kids complained literally every fifteen minutes about how miserable they were due to the heat and that all they wanted to do was go inside and do nothing.  But these were the days of what we like to call “education vacations”, so we were determined to see as much as possible, despite the complaints and weather.  At the time it seemed like none of the children enjoyed a single moment of the trip, but years later we would find out that they actually truly appreciated everything that they saw.

The Kids with a Statue of Roosevelt
The Kids with a Statue of Roosevelt
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument
Washington Monument
The Capital Dome
The Capital Dome

There is so much to see in Washington that is hard to know where to start.  Being the nation’s capital, it is obviously important to see the United States Capital as well as the White House.  We were there before the attacks of September 11 and access to these seats of government was greater than it is today.  There is so much history associated with these great landmarks and every American should see them at least once in their lives.  Seeing the National Mall and the Washington Monument is another absolute must while you’re visiting Washington.  Completing the tour of the monuments by visiting the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial should put you in a patriotic mood as you pay homage to the founding fathers.  While at the National Mall, you should also be sure to go to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it is a very moving tribute to the victims of the holocaust and meant to educate people about the atrocities that man is capable of so that future generations don’t repeat the atrocities.

The White House
The White House
United States Capital
United States Capital
The Jefferson Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial are both beautiful and haunting.  Seeing all of the names on the memorial wall of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is something that is very meaningful to people of our generation who had family members who served at the time.  Visiting the National Cemetery and watching the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is something that you will never forget.  Seeing the respect that our current military pay to the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice is incredibly humbling.

Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Then there is Old Town Alexandria, just across the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, truly one of our favorite places.  Seeing Ford’s Theatre where President Lincoln was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth is another place that will make you pause and reflect.  Not everything in Washington is about the memorials, there are the Smithsonian Museums with their dazzling array of artifacts and pieces of American history.  There is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which still has performances on a grand scale that are definitely worth attending.  And certainly there are no shortage of restaurants to suit anyone’s tastes.

Ford's Theatre and the Balcony where Lincoln was Shot
Ford’s Theatre and the Balcony where Lincoln was Shot
Display at Ford's Theatre
Display at Ford’s Theatre
The Smithsonian Museum
The Smithsonian Museum
Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum

Washington DC is probably America’s greatest city.  It is truly a different experience and was designed specifically to be that.  From the layout of the streets that was planned by Pierre Charles L’Enfant in the Baroque style, with avenues radiating out from rectangles to the height restrictions that ensure that the Washington Monument and United States Capital are visible for all to see.  Washington DC is the closest thing that the United States has to an “old world” city and it is truly a pleasure to visit and see.  There is so much more to see than just the monuments and museums, too much to describe in a single post.  It is truly a city that everyone should visit at some time or another and definitely a city that every American should be proud to have as our nation’s capital.

Funeral Procession at the National Cemetery
Funeral Procession at the National Cemetery
Ford's Theatre Sign
Ford’s Theatre Sign
Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame at the National Cemetery
John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame at the National Cemetery
Washington Display
Washington Display