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:
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 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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
And we kept going…
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.
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.
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.
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.