Visiting the capital of the United States: Washington

Last weekend Lumi and I traveled to Washington D.C. to explore the capital of the United States. We drove to SFO, parked our car with ParkSFO, a fairly cheap service with regular shuttles to the terminals, and flew to Washington Dulles. As we arrived very late we just took a cab to our hotel, the Westinin Arlington, where we just crashed and slept for a couple of hours.

On Friday I had to get up early for a (super secret) kick-off meeting of a new grant (that will be announced in a couple of days); so I spent all day in a meeting room inside chatting with other researchers while Lumi was exploring the big city, the capitol, the white house, and the national mall. On the plus side we were able to expense the hotel for our weekend in Washington and Lumi was able to explore the capitol and the library which I have already seen on an earlier visit when I stopped in Washington for a couple of days after a conference in Austin, Texas (ISPASS'11 if you are interested), so I did not feel the need to wait in line for a long time to see the capitol again. At night we reunited in the hotel and explored the gym (so-so, just a couple of treadmills and some weights) and enjoyed the pool and the hot tub before we headed off for dinner.

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The White House.

On Saturday we started our day with a Starbucks coffee and headed to the national mall where we spent a couple of hours to explore the Air and Space museum (my favorite museum in Washington).

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Lumi in front of the Breitling Orbiter, the first balloon to fly around the world.

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A picture of the X1, the first plane to fly faster than the speed of sound.

We actually planned to spend only a short amount of time in the museum but we got hooked during the awesome tour and spent almost 4 hours in the museum before we explored the national mall and had a good look at the Washington monument and the Lincoln memorial before we walked through Georgetown with all the small shops and pubs. Georgetown actually felt almost like England.

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Looking towards the Lincoln memorial.

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The Washington monument all wrapped up.

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Lincoln calmly watching the people around him.

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Lumi in Georgetown trying to look like a pillar.

On our last day we again returned to the national mall after yet another good-morning coffee and first went to the Jefferson memorial at the shore of Tidal basin. We enjoyed the view of all the cherry trees that were currently in bloom and stopped over for lunch at the cherry blossom festival. Returning to the mall we quickly browsed through the national museum of American history. We felt that the museum was lacking a general theme and a 'red thread' that leads visitors through the exhibits so we just wandered aimlessly through the different rooms, watched the original star spangled banner and headed on towards the national museum of natural history where we were amazed by the different mammals and dinosaurs they showed.

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Cheery blossoms for Lumi.

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Cheery blossoms for Mathias.

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The Jefferson memorial.

At the end of the day we returned to our hotel to grab our bags and returned to the airport. On the way back United managed to be 1 hour late on a 5 hour flight due to congestion at the SFO airport which was a bit annoying especially since we were already returning at 11:40pm (2:40am Washington time). But Lumi drove us safely home and we got a good night's rest. All in all, Washington is an amazing city that has lots to show, from scientific museums both for engineers as well as for the other sciences over cultural and historic information to streets that make you feel as if you are in England.

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