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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Washington, D.C. from above

Paul and I have wanted to go up the Washington Monument since we lived here between 1999 and 2002. For most of that time the Monument was getting a facelift, so it was closed for tourists but it re-opened shortly before we moved to Florida. We, of course, waited until the day before we moved to do it, so we went down at zero o’clock and waited patiently for our tickets. Our tickets were for 10 a.m. and “whaddaya know”, about 15 minutes before our time, a huge storm rolled in and they closed the Monument, so we couldn’t go up!!! We were so bummed out and have been talking about it ever since. Finally, we got to go last Sunday.

This time, I got our tickets from the Park Service website, which was not an option the last time we tried.  I am so glad they’ve added this option because if you live far from downtown (or out of town for that matter) and have kids, going to the Monument at 7 a.m. to get your timed tickets is just a pain. You do have to pay a $1.50 fee per ticket, if you get them online but the convenience is totally worth it. If you get your tickets at the Monument the morning of, they are free but you have to be there between 7 and 8 a.m.

Our tickets were for 6 p.m. and we got downtown about an hour and a half early. We found parking very close to the Old Post Office, which at 315 feet is the second tallest structure in DC after the Washington Monument (with its 515 feet) and which we had wanted to visit for years as well, so we were able to hit both in one trip – pretty awesome.

First, the Old Post Office. It’s a beautiful old building that now houses restaurants and souvenir stores in the first two stories (there may be offices on the higher floors). There was no line for the clock tower and you don’t need tickets, so we got to go right up. You take one elevator to the 9th floor and then another from the 9th to the observation deck of the clock tower and the Bells of Congress. We loved the views from the clock tower. Here you are closer to downtown and the Capitol and get to see the Washington Monument from up high as well. You can’t really see the White House from here because other buildings are in the way but I highly recommend it because the view is different from the Washington Monument and the Old Post Office is much easier to get into.  Here are a few pictures:

Looking down from the elevator to the lobby area, where the restaurants and souvenir stores are.IMG_8324

Pennsylvania Ave. with the Capitol at the endIMG_8313

Beautiful roof gardens on the buildings along Pennsylvania Ave.IMG_8315

Two shots of the Washington Monument with the Ronald Reagan Building in the foreground – they are a little hazy because I was shooting against the sun.

IMG_8316 IMG_8317 

A picture of the picture they took of Nia while we were eating and the fake newspaper cover they made out of it that they then broadcast on big screen TVs in the hope that we would buy it. We didn’t.IMG_8325  

We grabbed a quick dinner at the Post Office and headed to the Washington Monument. We got there 5 minutes before our time and went right in. The views from here are also gorgeous but you get to to look through small and not very clean windows (not ideal for picture taking), whereas at the Post Office, two of the sides have large open air windows with steel ropes, through which I was able to shoot pictures no problem. Here are a few of the pictures from the Washington Monument (the ones in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial didn’t work out because of the bright sun):

The National Mall with The Smithsonian Castle, the other museums and the Capitol.IMG_8328

A closer shot of the Capitol from the bottom of the Monument.IMG_8342

The Tidal Basin with Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Potomac and National Airport in the background.IMG_8330

The White House from afar. IMG_8338

The White House up closer. IMG_8339

The Old Post Office from the Washington MonumentIMG_8337

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