Friday 8 November:
Today we checked out of our perfectly located hotel in Philadelphia to continue our adventures with a train trip to Washington DC. Following our theme of exploring the birth of the nation and the key documents – we have thus far thrown tea into Boston Harbour in protest against unjust taxes thus firing the first shot in the War of Independence; worshiped in the very church in which the lanterns were lit to warn Paul Revere that the British were coming; we have sat in the very chamber in Independence Hall in Philadelphia where the rebels or patriots – depends on whose side you are on – signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the young nation; and now we have arrived at the capital to among other things, visit the National archives – to see these actual documents for ourselves!
When we arrived at the train station in Philadelphia – our usual hour or so ahead of when we need to be there – we were greeted by the grandeur of a huge structure – not as big as New York’s main train terminal by any means – but impressive nevertheless. We also were greeted by a notice saying our train was delayed. Instead of boarding at 12 noon – it was closer to 1.15pm by the time we got rolling. It took over two and a half hours for the journey into Union Station, Washington DC. The country side was pretty nondescript; the small towns we zipped by also had a dowdy rustic look to them. I reflected that it’s one thing to see the sights of the historic cities – it was like being on a first date – everyone was on their best behaviour and looking their best – but these towns and hamlets we passed looked, at least from what I could glimpse – dirty and unkempt and rather sad.
Because of the delay we didn’t have the time after checking in at our hotel to do a loop of the city by bus but will leave that joy for the morrow. Our plan is to do a loop – see the Capital building (a view of which we have from our hotel window) – and see as many of the memorials to the great Americans of the past as we can fit in – the Jefferson and Lincoln being top of the list. Sunday we plan to go to church at Church of the Epiphany at 8am – wander past the White House and visit the Smithsonian and other museums including the archives.