Washington DC - Capital letter
I had a really great time in Chicago and I can't say I was particularly ready to leave. I could've easily stayed longer had we had the time, but that isn't to say I felt like spending over 12 hours at Chicago O'Hare airport, which in turn, has become by far the dullest day of our trip.
My alarm woke us up at 4.30am to catch the subway to the airport. Our flight wasn't until 7.25am, but the subway took an hour to get to O'Hare and we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get there. That is when our nightmare journey began.
We arrived at the train station at 5.10am, only to find that rail works were happening on the line we needed to be on to get to the airport.
We were advised to get on one train that would take us to another station where we would then have to get a shuttle bus to another subway station which would then get us to the airport.
Clearly, this was going to take us a lot longer than an hour, and indeed it did! We arrived at the airport 35minutes before the plane was due to leave. We rushed to the desk only to be told we would not be able to get on the flight. The guy gave no explanation but we put it down to our late arrival. Although, we were surprised when we weren't questioned why we were late, and also they automatically put us on another flight free of charge. We were grateful for that but it did mean waiting at the airport for 12 hours as the flight wasn't until 6.40pm. We decided against going back into Chicago for the day as it would've been too stressful a trek with the train.
We got some breakfast and tried to sleep for a couple of hours as we were shattered from the 4.30am wake up call. The day was so dull and boring. It was mostly spent reading and catching up with our journals.
The day passed and we were able to check our bags in at around 4ish. We had dinner and arrived at our gate to hear the flight was delayed by 40minutes. What's 40 minutes when you've been waiting 12 hours! Anyway, after speaking to a few other passengers, it became clear that US Airlines had actually messed up quite a few of their flights that day, resulting in dozens of people missing their original flight. One group of people missed their flight because they were told the wrong gate number. By the time they were told the correct one the flight had already left. On that same flight, they had even left behind one of their flight attendants because she too was told the wrong gate number.
We finally got on the plane at around 7.15pm and arrived at our connecting airport, Philadelphia, an hour and a half later. We rushed to the next gate to catch our flight to Washington DC only to find that flight was also delayed. By this time it was after 10pm and Sarah and I were like walking zombies. I have never been so tired.
When everybody was able to finally board the plane and we were ready to go, a guy sitting next to Sarah was talking on his mobile. Despite the flight attendant asking him numerous times to turn it off, he continued to use his phone. Eventually he put the phone down but didn't turn it off. We had just got onto the runway when his phone rang again. This time everyone was really p***ed off, so people started shouting at him to turn it off. The flight attendant was equally annoyed and told him that if he didn't turn it off immediately he would tell the pilot to turn back around and go back to the gate to throw the guy off the plane. The idiot refused to turn off his phone so that is exactly what we did.
Anyway, the guy must've apologised and turned off his phone as after getting on and off the plane a few times, he was eventually allowed back on. Personally, I don't think he should've been allowed back on. He wasted almost an hour and he was a horrible man.
We arrived in Washington at our hostel at around 1.30am and crashed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was exhausted.
Monday August 3rd:
As we had wasted a day at the airport the day before, our time in Washington DC was cut short, but we were hopeful we would be able to get all the sight-seeing stuff done in a couple of days.
We walked first towards the White House, seeing the Treasury Department along the way. Obviously, we couldn't really get anywhere near the White House, but we did manage to take a few good photographs from outside the gate. It looked a lot smaller than I imagined!
We then made our way to the Washington Monument and the World War II memorial.
Behind the World War II Memorial is what is known as the Reflection Pool, as it reflects the Washington Monument and the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. It is also featured in Forrest Gump when Jenny runs through the water when Tom Hanks is giving a speech!
We then walked into the Abraham Lincoln memorial, before heading to the Vietnam War Memorial, and then on to the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial. All a must visit for the history and to see the country's memorials to all those fallen in war. The memorials are so extravagant, it is clear America has great respect for their fellow countrymen.
We then made our way to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was very moving, and difficult to imagine that such atrocities could take place.
The next day we had to leave for Philadelphia, and with the log flight delay a couple of days before, it meant we still had quite a lot to cram in.
Luckily, our train to Philadelphia wasn't until 6pm so we got up early and made the most of the few hours we had left in Washington.
After checking out and leaving our bags in the luggage room we walked over the river towards Arlington cemetery.
This didn't look too far away, but in fact took us an hour and a half to walk there. The heat was incredible, far too hot to be walking all that way! We saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, as well as JFK and his brother's grave.
When I say grave, it is much more like a tomb, sectioned off from the rest of the cemetery.
We then took the subway to the Pentagon, which was highly disappointing. Obviously, we weren't allowed to take any pictures, but I at least expected more of the building. It could have been any building, but I guess that's the point!
We hopped back on the subway to go back into the city centre as we had a guided tour booked at the US Capitol.
It was very interesting actually, and definitely a good history lesson. Proof that our travels haven't been all about drinking and tanning ourselves!
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