Washington DC

The trip was really great! We traveled by greyhound buses, and it's quite strange. Apparently they sell way too many tickets, so there were about 20 people after us that couldn't get on the 2a.m. bus and had to wait for the 6a.m. connection! Luckily we knew we had to be there ahead of time, so we spent about 2.5 hours in the bus station. The drive was nice, I slept well with my neck pillow, warm cover, eye cover and my ohropax ear plugs.

We arrived at eight in the morning and walked to our hostel. We were a group of 15 people and had reservations in two different hostels. Capital View was really comfortable, welcoming and clean, but the guys at Hostelling International had free breakfast. Once our baggageGepäck was locked away, we were very hungry and went in direction of the Mall. Most of the museums and many monuments are aligned around a big free space with grass and benches.

The weather was perfect all three days long. No clouds, with 30°C sometimes even a bit too hot in the sun. We really enjoy the summer, and winter in Pittsburgh will be very hard - or so they tell us at least. So first we had a lot of trouble deciding what to do, it wasn't easy to split up the group. Some people really have a strong "Herdentrieb"! But we managed somehow, and I went to the Natural History Museum first. It was really interesting, especially the gemstones and crystals section.

For lunch, we went to "The Greene's Turtle" and I had the best spare ribs of my life! There was more meat per bone, they cut it differently. Delicious meat, juicy, and with an awesome BBQ Sauce... Accompanied by onion straw: Thin strings of onion fried in a bit of dough, but not massive like the big onion rings who look like calamares. In any case, I returned the next day to have the same dish again!

The other culinaric highlight of the weekend was "Vapiano". Italian pasta, pizza and salads in a very special restaurant concept: Beautiful interior with fresh herbs, high marble tables, cozy lights and even a real olive tree, combined with instant food: I don't call it fast food, because that would be blasphemy. I wanted Pasta, so first there's a list with 8 different types of pasta. They put your choice in a basket that looks like a Friteuse, but with hot water. Then you choose your sauce, for me Bolognese. For every customer, they take a new pan in the shape of a wok, that they put on a hole with the same shape. Then they add fresh carrots, onions etc. and after 5 minutes you have delicious, authentic italian pasta. And all of this for under 12$!

It's really astonishing how cheap the restaurants are. But it's always a bit confusing: In the US, the tax is never included. It's really annoying in shops, you can't count out the money, and dollar coins are a pain in the neck, they are heavy as they accumulate and they almost don't have any value! But back to the restaurant. When you're in a group of more than six people, they usually add a gratitude of 18% directly to the check, so when you see a meal for 7$, it will cost you 10$ in the end. But still, it's so cheap and often quite good, that experience is very different from Switzerland.

The table customswhat's this? Tischmanieren, wie eine Mahlzeit abläuft also vary considerably. Here, the waiters remove your plate as soon as you're finished, they don't wait for all the party to stop eating. First, it seemed really rude, because the slow eaters (like me) feel quite stressed. But by now we have accepted it. For us, it's also really strange not to wish people a good appetite, we have started with saying "enjoy your meal", but apparently nobody does this, so we try to suppress our lifelong trained social reflexes. But one point that is really nice is that the water is always free. It comes with a lot of ice, which is sometimes a bit of a problem because the air conditioning is already trying to freeze you, but the cold water just tastes better without the tap water taste. And if you order a soft drink, it's usually refillable. So you pay once and can get it refilled as many times as you want.

But back to DC... In the evening, I had to work, we really start to have a lot to do, but we didn't know that yet when we decided to take this trip. The next day, we went on top of the Washington memorial (the obelisk), you have a view of all of DC, pictures will follow. Then, I visited the National Arts Gallery, which had a really interesting exposition of the impressive Chester Dale Collection. Renoir, Manet, Picasso and many other famous names. In the evening, there was a free symphonic concert in front of the Capitol, all the Americans came with covers and picnic. Really nice atmosphere. And then, we visited the closest monuments by night, which was beautiful. So romantic, one really shouldn't miss that! But the fountains stop at midnight, so don't be too late either.

On Monday, I went back to the Art Museum, and then I spent a quiet afternoon in the Sculpture Garden of the museum, which had a huge fountain and was so peaceful I even fell asleep. We went early to the bus station and left DC at 1am. This morning, we even arrived 45 minutes ahead of time, the drivers was completely crazy. I only woke up two times, but I was quite frightened. But not enough to keep me awake, so it was fine. And this morning I've been working until now, but I'm ok now with my homework.

4 responses to “Washington DC”

  1. Too bad Mr Obama wasn't

    Too bad Mr Obama wasn't there. The poor man had to promise miracles elsewhere. Jefferson would be astonished about all the responsibility/culpability given to one man. Did you pay him a visit (Jefferson)? At least you could dedicate your homework to him :-) Sounds really nice, your pastoral in the sculpture garden.

    Submitted by Suzanne

  2. It's amazing...

    ... how different things are. Glad to read that you had a great time and are enjoying the culture shock with an open mind!

    Submitted by Hans

  3. In which way?

    Different to Switzerland or different to when you were there? Please elaborate! :-)

    Submitted by Vera in Pittsburgh

  4. Washington DC

    I'm glad that your start is so (positively) exciting and the American way of lie obviously appealing to you; thanks for your blog - very informative and for Grosi a complimentary English course. Elisa

    Submitted by Elisa