From Niagara Falls to Washington DC. It is like going from one place of power (hydroelectric) to another (political).
We were aware that the hotel check-in time was from 15:00 but were a bit surprised at the rather harsh non-welcome by the lady in the office behind the Reception desk when our taxi dropped us off at about 14:10. Many hotels give 15:00 as the check-in time to cover themselves with regard to having rooms cleaned and ready but, in all our travels over the past years, we have found that if one arrives any time after 13:00 they are usually ready. This lady didn’t give the gentleman on duty to even greet us when she stormed through saying that the rule is 15:00 and not a moment before. She reluctantly agreed that we could leave our luggage while we went for a walk.
During the next couple of hours we discovered that we were in the centre of the city with many attractions within close walking distance and the road is fairly flat. We came across a plaza at the corner of 7th Street and Indiana Avenue where there were 4 points of interest. The former Insurance Company building which now houses a restaurant and condos, the former National Bank of Washington DC which now houses an African-American Museum as well as other companies, the Temperance Fountain which donated by members of the Temperance Movement and a Monument to the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Veterans era group. The donation of the Temperance Fountain by a crusader of the Temperance Movement Henry Cogswell in 1882 caused much controversy being described as ugly and unnecessary.
Former Insurance building now restaurants and homes
Former Bank of Washington now home to an African American Musem and retailors
One side of Temperance Fountain. Faith & Hope are written on 2 of the other sides while Charity appears twice
Monument to the Grand Army of the Republic, Civil War Veterans
After sitting at the plaza enjoying the movement of people and activity of a number of birds, we moved on to walk back to the hotel going up and down streets. We found a most interesting shop called CVS Pharmacy which we later learned was part of a big chain of CVS not only in DC but in many US cities. It was so much more than a pharmacy in that it sold everything in the way of groceries, cosmetics, small household items and delicious ready packed meals, lots of salads and fruit. We purchased our supper from here.
Further up the road saw a restaurant, called Ollies Trolley, which claimed to serve the best chips in the US and a full English breakfast for what seemed to be an excellent price. We decided to have breakfast there the following day. We were surprised to find that the chips (French Fries) were large unpeeled potato wedges which were rather soggy. The full English breakfast consisted of a fried egg, rasher of bacon, small sausage & chips.
When we got back to the hotel our room was ready and we booked in. The owners of the hotel, the Harringtons, proudly advertised that the hotel had been in their family since 1914. There was a most interesting mural on one wall of the long passage to the lift highlighting the important moments in US history and of the hotel itself. It may have been in the one family for 104 years but keeping it clean did not seem to be high on the agenda. There was litter in the lift and along the passages to the rooms. Not only these areas but all the public places needed a good scrub down. At least the sheets and towels were in good nick and the bed comfortable.
The hotel name was Harrington and on one side of the lobby was Harriet’s breakfast room and on the other Harry’s diner where one could ‘have a delicious meal in minutes any time.’ None of the 3 establishment owners was related to the other but the names sounded good. We didn’t try Harry’s but we did have breakfast at Harriet’s on our last morning and were not overly impressed. There were no staff on hand to assist or answer any queries and the food was definitely not hot.
Hotel Harrington – Harriet’s is beneath the flags on the left, Harry’s in windows facing & Ollies Trolley with the yellow awnings
On arrival at the airport earlier in the day we had noticed that some the airline employees had kindly caused one of the wheels on my suitcase to become detached from the case itself and this necessitated purchasing a new one the following day. The lady who cleaned our room was from Ghana and, when we asked her where we could dispose of the broken one, she said, “No. I can use that when I go home to my family. My brother will fix it.” She was very excited to have such “a smart suitcase”. As the saying goes, “One man’s junk is another’s treasure.”
Our plan for the next 2 days while we were in DC was to use the Hop on/Hop off bus around the city and we were really pleased to discover that there was a bus stop right outside the hotel. Overall, the city of DC was a beautiful stop with lots of attractions and cultural facilities to enjoy but our hotel was a let-down.