We were up early and ready for our 1st day on the Hop on/Hop off bus around Washington DC.
As I said in my previous blog, there was a stop for the bus outside the front door of the hotel and it arrived 10mins after we got there. One can usually buy tickets either on the bus or at various points throughout the city you are in and Washington DC (referred to as DC in future) was no different BUT when we got on the bus that morning the tour guide and ticket seller did not have his card machine. He was extremely nice and said that we could come on board and stay on until they got back to Stop 1, the terminus, and get our ticket there. The hotel was at Stop 9 of more than 20. There have been a few times when we and others have been told to wait for the next bus which delays touring time.
We had planned to do a full tour before getting off anywhere so that we could see which attractions we really wanted to explore. We purchased our 24-hour ticket and, because we purchased it sometime after boarding, we could use it well into the following day. The tour guide on the new bus to which we had to change was probably the best we had ever had and he was delighted that we were going to do a full tour as he said that it would be a first for him to have passengers who did this.
Before I continue, as this blog will include comments and photos of statues and their sizes, I must mention the Freedom Statue on top of the Capitol Building. It stands at 19.5ft and no statue in DC may be higher than that as nothing is greater than freedom itself.
The Freedom Statue on top of the Capitol Building
Once we had been around we made our first stop at the Jefferson Memorial. All of the memorials in DC are large and imposing. This one is semi-circular from the rear but rectangular at the front entrance. Once inside we could see that Thomas Jefferson’s statue at 19ft was facing the Capitol Building which houses Congress and Senate to keep a watch on their maintaining the spirit of the Constitution of which he was the Principal Author. He is sometimes referred to the 1,2,3 President as he was the country’s 1st Secretary of State, 2nd Vice-President and 3rd President.
Jefferson Memorial from the front – elderly and disabled have to take a lift from the basement
Thomas Jefferson watching over the Capitol
We hopped on to the next bus and went to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial and found this to be even grander although it does not stand out on a hill. It is in park-like settings within a 7-acre site. It is made up of 4 sections – 1 for each of his Presidential Terms. It was after his 4th term that the limit of 2 terms was added to the Constitution. Each section had its own waterfall and theme. I found it sad that the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt was on its own and yet there was one of FDR with his favourite dog. While we were there the rain, which had been on and off for most the morning came down hard and we had to rush to cover in the Visitor and Gift Shop building. It was there that we saw a model of FDR sitting on a kitchen chair with wheels. Apparently, when the display in this area went on show a young man complained that he was shown standing up when he had been in a wheelchair for all of his Presidency. The young man returned a few days later with the kitchen chair to which he had fitted wheels.
FDR in one section of the Memorial
One of the 4 waterfalls
When the rain ceased for a short while we rushed to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial a short distance away. This had 2 distinct sections – in front is his statue with no feet as his task was not finished and behind are 2 large stones: the Stone of Hope and the Stone of Pain. We could not take any photos as the rain had started to pour down again and we had to take shelter a distance away so to see photos go to the link.
The bus then dropped us off at the Abe Lincoln Memorial which stood high up on a hill with 58 steps leading up to it. The no. is significant as 2 of them represent his 2 terms of office and the other 56 are the age at which he died. There is now a ramp for disabled and elderly persons. Some of the dimensions of the memorial are that the memorial itself is 190 feet long and 119 feet wide, and reaches a height of almost 100 feet. The statue of Lincoln is 19 feet high and weighs 175 tons. There is quite a lot more fascinating information about this memorial if you go to the link. From the memorial one looked down on to the longest Reflecting Pool in DC at 618m long and 51m wide and beyond this to the Washington Monument.
Abe Lincoln seated high
Some of the 58 steps up to the Memorial
Looking down from the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflection Pool to the Washington Monument. Note how wet it was
We did not stop at the Washington Monument as it was once again raining heavily and our guide told us that it was under repair and, although it was still open to the public it was not very safe.. The monument is the tallest obelisk in the world and is surrounded by 50 US flags to represent each of the states.
A shuttle bus linked to the hop on/hop off bus then took us to Arlington Cemetery which was in close proximity to these memorials. It was an amazing place to visit. First, you go through airport-like security checks into a display hall. There are photos and mementoes of many who have died in action and an artificial bugler ‘blowing’ a bugle. Here you go out to the cemetery itself. This has a large monument to women – nurses, factory workers, home helpers and others who lost their lives during wars and there are a number of the graves for these people on a hill nearby. The graves of John F Kennedy, Jacqui Kennedy-Onassis and his 2 brothers, Robert and Ted, are situated at the top of a hill with the US flag flying permanently at half-mast. There is the Eternal Flame burning beside the graves and there were a number of coins all around them. A security guard told me that people toss them there in the belief that they will then be used for a good purpose.
‘Bugler’ at entrance to Arlington Cemetery
Monument to women workers during wars
2 of the 4 Kennedy graves with the Eternal Flame
We had to wait nearly half an hour for the shuttle bus to arrive and we then got back on to the big bus and returned to the terminus at the end of the route. The last bus was due to leave there at 5pm so Trevor and our guide ran into a supermarket which he, not Trevor, knew was in the basement of the building there. They got back just as the bus was about to leave but I was pleased that Trevor managed to get us a delicious take-away for supper.
Statue of Eleanor Roosevelt at the FDR Memorial