The best of the best
Meeting my great VT-friends was my the most important activity in Washington, DC, never to forget. Making friends and giving us opportunity to meet personally sooner or later is the best side of the Virtual Tourist.
I always wanted to meet personally people of various countries and cultures. In the beginning it was very difficult for... the political reasons. Living behind the Iron Wall made travels and personal contacts with the rest of the world very difficult. Add serious financial barrier: until 1990 average monthly salary in Poland was about $20 while in, say France or UK, about $1,000. Buying bottle of water or any ticket to the museum in 'the West" was a challange unless you worked and earned money there. This situations seemed hopeless and impossible to change that time. I could have never expected what future would bring.
The communism fall down and economic freedom have given me freedom of travel (passport at home, no visas etc.) and more money for travels since early 1990'. Development of modern technologies (satellite TV, home computers, internet, mobile phones) has made contacts with the world as easy as never before. I found VT page by coindidence but I had no much time (studying and passing crazy exams haha) in the beginning (2000). But it changed soon later. Now, I am very happy to be able to meet some of my VT-friends including those ones in Washington, DC. Let me say a few words about my DC's friends.
Kathy (Kodi01) - your talkings with Urszula (tak, tak, tak) are never to forget, your visit to Poland as well, welcome back...
Kristi (Dabs) - your hospitality, smile, love to Chicago (I MUST visit it, right) and surely Frango Mints you gave us are never to forget.
Tania (skye) - I remember most your infectious smile, humour and joy + Poland's connections (Piwniczna, right?), you are always welcome to Poland.
Chris (balfor) - I can't forget our night to morning conversation (wine + beer, too), your overhelming hospitality and that great corksrew which serves me perfectly, and my sorrow when I had to skip Atlanta :-(.
Kent (Kentbein) - your long lasting (on VT) hospitality and help in my US trips planning, your energy (looking for a restaurant :-) impressed me; add those small Polish flag you had and Pentagon sign you gave us. I wish we had more time...
Nat (b1bob) - haha, my VT discovery, a man of great heart, extremely helpful, hospitable and unique, intriguing individuality. No more words needed...
More in my travelogues (pictures) and nightlife (info + pics) tips.
Thank you very much my friends. You added a lot of warm feelings to my US trip :-).
Who was Jefferson?
In my first year in DC I was visiting the Jefferson memorial late one night around midnight (DCers seem to only to tour around when someone from out of town visits them), and we came upon a couple dancing the night away under the full moom..
Another friend of ours once got married there!
The best thing about...
The best thing about Washington is the Smithsonian's 16 national museums and it should be mentioned that the admission to 14 Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo is free. The reflecting pools at night.
The Mall and Smithosnian...
The Mall and Smithosnian Museums, Adams Morgan,The Holocaust Museum (plan somthing light hearted afterwards), The Uptown Movie Theatre on Connecticut Ave. (seats over 900 and is an old conventional theatre converted, screen is two stories tall) Walking around the Mall and along the river on a a breezy fall evening when the stree lights have come on but the sun hasn't quite set...breathtaking and a rare pleasure for me as a suburbanite
Glad I Saw The White House Before 9/11!
"All things are difficult before they are easy. John Norley
The White House seems to glow, and it's the painted Virginia sandstone that gives it this white luster. This presidental home & office is, since September 11, almost impossible to visit. Because of security concerns, only special groups are allowed to tour. (Veteran's Groups and some School Groups)
Both times that I visited Washington, I was able to visit the White House & was told that it was the only official residence in the world that was open to the public for free. How sad that we can no longer visit it. When I was there, I thought of it as a Museum of Americana that reflected the early 1800s styles of when it was built.
Even though it was the first public building constructed in Washington, our first President never had the opportunity to live there. It was the third president, Thomas Jefferson, who has the distinction of being the first president to spend a full term in the still unfinished executive mansion! It was not until 1902, with the addition of the West Wing for offices, that the First Family of the Land gained some measure of privacy! Today, the White House has 132 rooms and 28 working fireplaces...just imagine.
Even when we could tour the White House, we were not allowed to see too much, only six rooms, really.
Of the six, my favorite was the Oval Blue Room which was dubbed the Blue Room by President Van Buren who started the tradition of blue upholstery about 1830. Today, it has Blue Satin draperies and off-white wallpaper as well as a classically-inspired frieze of blue and gold at the chair rail and the ceiling. Incidentally, this is where the White House Christmas Tree stands during the Christmas Season.
On the tour, I learned that the Rose Garden was designed by Jacqueline Kennedy as a present to her husband, President John Kennedy. Out of bounds to the public were the rooms of the second floor:
Yellow Oval Room, Treaty Room, Queen's Bedroom, Lincoln Bedroom, Family Bedrooms, President's Dining Room, Family's West Sitting Hall, Solarium, and the Utility, Billiard, and Storage Rooms.
The West Wing is also closed to the public and includes the President's Oval Office, Cabinet Room, Appointments Lobby, and
Roosevelt Room for Staff Conferences.
However, I did see:
1. The enormous gold and white East Room (largest of all rooms on the first floor).
2. The Green Room, which is basically a parlor.
3. The Red Room which was originally "The President's Antichamber".
4. The State Dining Room for official luncheons and dinners.
5. Cross Hall with its portraits of recent presidents.
6. North Hall and North Portico.
I was somewhat disappointed with all the restrictions, but I understood. Now, I'm so glad that I saw at least that much.