A Washington D.C. Moment

Last year, we made a last minute decision to spend the Victoria Day long weekend (also known as the May 24 long weekend) in Washington D.C. So, we packed our bags and off we went for a drive. We’re lucky to live on the East Coast where some of the best cities are within driving distance from Toronto. We took a more direct route to D.C. by going through small towns in Pennsylvania. It was a beautiful drive. There were many times I wanted to stop to take photos. I would love to take that drive again but hubby wasn’t so thrilled with the idea. It was too slow for him but I kept reminding him it was also a shorter drive. I don’t think I convinced him.

When we arrived in D.C., our first stop had to be The National Gallery of Art to visit the lady Ginevra de’ Benci painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The only da Vinci in North America. Here she is:

Ginevra de' Benci, Leonardo da Vinci at The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

I don’t know what draws me to her but I find her more captivating than the Mona Lisa. Ginevra seems like a no-nonsense kind of gal. The photo below is a little blurry but this is the reverse of the portrait inscribed with the phrase VIRTUTEM FORMA DECORAT (“beauty adorns virtue”).

The reverse of the Ginevra portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The National Gallery has a great collection which include Degas, Goya among others. I highly recommend visiting The National Gallery of Art and the staff are really friendly.

The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen – Plaster Statuette, Edgar Degas

María Teresa de Borbón y Vallabriga, later Condesa de Chinchón, 1783, Francisco Goya

The dome of the rotunda on the second floor reminded me of the Pantheon on a smaller scale. If you’ve seen my post on the Piazzas in Rome, then you’ll know what I mean.

Dome of the Second Floor Rotunda. The National Gallery of Art

This statue is situated right under the dome of the rotunda. Second floor, The National Gallery of Art.

After spending the morning at The National Gallery, we ended up eating lunch at The Asian Festival. They had closed a portion of Pennsylvania Ave NW just behind The National Gallery for this outdoor festival. After lunch, we headed on to The Air and Space Museum but on our way there, this is what we passed by:

Capitol Hill

We were greeted with airplanes hanging from the ceiling and rockets as we entered the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum! There was a lot to see at The Air and Space Museum and a bit overwhelming. You can spend a whole day there! Someone on Flickr has posted photos of the exhibits at The Air and Space Museum here.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Soviet SS-20 Rockets

Check out those outfits!

The Wright Brothers Exhibit

I believe this is the original plane. Wright Brothers Exhibit.

Apollo Capsule.

Yes, that's a monkey.

Apollo Lunar Module

We were exhausted after exploring The Air and Space Museum but we wanted to see as much as we could. Our next stop was The National Gallery of Art’s Outdoor Sculpture Garden. I’m a huge fan of Roy Lichtenstein’s work and it was a treat to see one of his installations, House I. (Look closely at the House. Are your eyes playing tricks on you?) There are 17 sculptures in all. The Outdoor Sculpture Garden is also a great place to relax and catch your breath. There are places to sit around the fountain.

House I - Roy Lichtenstein. The National Gallery of Art Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Spider - Louise Bourgeois. The National Gallery of Art Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Next stop was the White House but on our way there, these are some of the buildings we saw. The National Archives along with some close up of the two statues located at the front of the building. We didn’t have time to go inside but will definitely do so next time we’re in D.C.

National Archives, Washington D.C.



Not sure which building this is but the detail on this entrance is reminiscent of Art Deco. (It might be the Internal Revenue Service building but I can’t be sure.)

Art deco style entrance.

Something happened on our way to the White House. We were a block away from the White House, walking on Pennsylvania Ave when we noticed three police vehicles block the intersection in such a way so that only one lane was getting through. They stopped traffic for awhile and we were starting to wonder what was going. Then we saw the reason – black SUVs drove by with men holding rifles looking out the window. That was kinda a cool moment.

White House

And we kept going…

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is massive! I’ve seen obelisks in Europe but they don’t compare to the size of the Washington Monument – it stands 555′ 5 1/8″ tall, and offers views in excess of thirty miles.

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial looking towards the Washington Monument.

The Reflecting Pool is supposed to be located between the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln National Memorial … this is what we saw instead.

Reflecting Pool looking towards the Washington Monument

Can I just say that it was a very long walk from the World War II Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial (well, it certainly seemed like it). I always say walking is the only way to see a city but I recommend that you grab one of those hop on/hop off buses. We even saw some people on segways. However, there was a reason to our madness – we wanted to test our stamina for the trip to Italy so we walked.

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

On our walk back, we passed by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, then we ended our first full day in Washington D.C. with dinner at Hill Country. They have great smoked meat! Well worth the 20-minute wait. We loved it so much that we went to the Hill Country in New York City when we were there for Thanksgiving of 2011.


About May Dayao

Carpe diem!
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4 Responses to A Washington D.C. Moment

  1. Katharine says:

    Oh I’d love to see the Smithsonian! pretty much because of the movie haha. Thanks for showing the reverse side of the Da Vinci! it isn’t common that the back is displayed, not to mention it’s also decorated lovingly.

    god knows when I can get a US visa to see these!

  2. Definitely get that visa, you need to explore North America, especially the East Coast – there’s DC, Boston, Chicago, New York City is a must (of course), Philadelphia, and maybe even my own city – Toronto 🙂 Those cities are all within driving distance of each other!

    Washington DC was fun. There was a lot to see and not enough time. Next time we go, we’ll definitely hit the Museum of Natural History – but Chicago first. Hmmm…. methinks we should do another road trip for the May 24 long weekend.

    • Katharine says:

      I lived in New York for 5 years actually 🙂 However, never made it to DC, Boston or Chicago…… I don’t know how that happened lol. However, I did have a taste of Philidephia and even Montreal (oh gosh 7 hours of bus) . I visited Toronto nearly 20 years ago. I’m sure LOTS have been changed.

      It’s hard for me to get even a tourist visa, as I “have strong ties” with the states. My application was rejected twice before, when my reason to visit was to take care of my sister who broke her leg in a ski accident. They were like… since I lived and worked there before, and even my siblings are currently US citizen…. so, they just think i would simply stay there and work in the black market and never return to HK….. what a pain in the neck.

      One place I really regret that I didn’t visit when I was still living in NY was the south. I really want to soak up a bit of Louisiana or New Orleans. Ah, southern soul food!

      • Gosh, you’re so lucky. I’ve always wanted to live in New York. We’re thankful that we have family there so we visit often (as long as they don’t get tired of having us over, lol!). Wow, unbelievable that the US would not grant you a visa for those reasons. Wonder what it would take to change their mind.

        You and I must have the same bucket list because Louisiana is also on mine. It moved up a few notches ever since Andrew Evans, he’s the Digital Nomad for National Geographic tweeted about his trip to Louisiana last year. There’s a great restaurant called Southern Accent on the street right behind Honest Ed’s (if you remember where that is), great southern cuisine. The furthest south I’ve been to is Key West in Florida.

        Toronto has changed in the past 20 years. There are a lot more condos in the downtown area. Both the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario got face lifts. I actually work just 3 blocks away from the Art Gallery; I sometimes go there on my lunch hour. I’ll try to do a post of Toronto. We just visited the ROM in November so I have some pics I could post.

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