The plan was to kick start our last morning in Washington bright and early. And this did not happen in the slightest. Mainly my fault for spending an extra hour in bed, with ice on my sore foot while writing my last blog. The hotel was epic, to be fair. It was so central, and the bed was super comfy, I was happy to lie there and rest that little bit more knowing we weren’t far away from where we needed to be. Grandma Ayla needed it!
We had already made a strick plan for the day to maximise our time in the city, before heading to get the bus to Philadelphia.
Item one on our list after checking out was to do a bike ride to Thomas Jefferson Memorial. We rented some bikes (similar to Boris Bikes) from outside the Capitol, and cycled through The Mall to the Monument, where we took a left down to East Potomac Park.
Not long after we started cycling, the rain started to pour down. It was Iceland all over again! I had a showerproof coat, which could only do so much. We arrived at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial looking like we’d fallen into the Tidal Basin (a lake in the park). Water was dripping off my eyelashes!
Despite the damp conditions, it was so much fun. And a quick (plus cheap!) way to see a different part of the city. I’m quite a nervous cyclist, but I powered on through and did a little bit of off-roading by cycling over some tree roots. Hardcore.
The memorial itself was pretty awesome too. I’m so glad we made the effort to go see it.
Spot Emily hiding at the top of the stairs;
The Americans love their domes. So many of the memorials we’ve seen had dome tops, constructed in the same design.
We cycled back towards The Mall, and to the Lincoln Memorial where we parked the bikes, and got a taxi to the National Zoo.
We were supposed to walk across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to then get a Metro to the zoo, but we were so soaked, and the rain wasn’t easing up. I did manage to see the famous Arlington Memorial Amphitheater from a distance, which was nice.
We arrived at the zoo cold and wet. And we were starting to feel like that perhaps this trip to the zoo wasn’t worth it, despite the fact it was free entry. There weren’t any animals in sight! The first pen with animals actually in it, which took about 10 minutes of walking to see, lived three Asian elephants. And to be honest, I felt repulsed. Having seen elephants wander so freely in the nature reserve in Chiang Mai, to then seeing those three beautiful animals in such a small field, well I couldn’t look. I walked away and contemplated my role in encouraging caged animals. I felt sick and still do.
Maybe there is a bigger pen for them, I don’t know, as this is something we later discovered with the giant pandas. We wandered past their large, outdoor enclosure, and there wasn’t a panda in sight. Indoors however, we found a baby panda, Bei Bei (🖤🖤🖤) lazying around. Bei Bei, a male, was born on 22 August 2015.
His mum was in the enclosure to the left. She was pacing up and down which did concern me a bit. The mum is called Mei Xiang and is 19 years old.
The dad, Tian Tian (as pictured on the middle screen below) was fast asleep in another pen. In August he’ll be celebrating his 20th birthday.
Having seen the giant pandas, we made our way back out, seeing two bisons just chilling. The zoo housed interesting animals, but the size of the enclosures really bothered me.
Emily wanted to go to a cupcake shop she read about on Trip Advisor, which has queues around the block. It was nice to head over to Georgetown, where the cupcake shop was, because it was another part of the city to see. The buildings were so quaint and old-American looking.
The cakes looked super pretty. I chose a peanut butter fudge, cherry blossom and lavender early grey.
Heading out of the cupcake shop, I sort of decided and told Emily we’d get a bus back. I saw a bus for Federal Triangle and we jumped on board, using up the last few dollars on our Metro card.
Conveniently it took us to the back of the National Gallery of Art, which was open, yay! After discovering they had a collection of Impressionist paintings, I was a child in a sweet shop.
Look at that little curl 😂
I LOVED it. And I had no clue that such famous Impressionist works were housed there. We had little time to wander around the gallery, so we kept it brief.
At the hotel we changed into dry clothes and walked the two blocks to Union Station to get a Megabus to Philadelphia. I booked this about six weeks ago. Costing us less than $10 each. And we got to sit in the best seats in the house, which definitely helped my travel sickness.
Oh yeah – the cupcakes. We opened the box on the bus to discover… the frosting had melted! It’s not even that hot today, but we had spoons anyway and tucked right in. Made me chuckle.
We drove through Baltimore; a port city, which seemed like a very industrial place. So I shan’t be returning.
I watched the sunset as the bus crossed the Susquehanna River. Was so pretty!
And the skyline of Philadelphia was exciting too.
When we finally arrived, I was beyond shattered. The bus got in on time, which was something, but then it meant Emily and I had to navigate the metro system. Not cool when one is carrying loads of luggage!
After almost having a verbal altercation with the woman manning the desk at the station (she was so rude and unhelpful!), we made our way across town from 30th street to 2nd street for a mere $2.25. Not sure it was worth it for the hassle of saving a few dollars.
We arrived at our hostel safe and sound anyway. It’s in a really pretty location and I think I’m going to absolutely love it! It’s brought us back down to reality for sure. Going from Business Class, followed by a Suite in a hotel, to a 16 bed dorm sharing a bathroom… great fun. Oh and carrying our luggages up 3 flights of narrow stairs 👍🏽 the hostel is sweet though. Little perks help, such as free shower gel and a hair dryer. AND FREE TEA! Yes. The guy at the desk basically said it wouldn’t live up to British standards – meh – I can’t wait for a cuppa.
I am struggling with the food a little. I miss drinks that don’t taste so sweet, and chicken salads. I bought a diet Dr Pepper and it was revolting, definitely not like the ones I have had back at home. I’m struggling with the ice tea too, so I’ll likely to be sticking to water over the next fortnight. I did buy a really nice drink, which took me a day to finish as I sipped it now and then, was a ginger and apple cider vinegar tonic. Not for the faint hearted.
I walked/cycled 5.5 miles, a total of 13, 636 steps.