I absolutely love museums. I often call myself a cultural traveler and for me one of the best places to consume culture ,spanning from centuries in the past to the present, are museums. Now, Washington D.C.’s National Mall is a museum-lovers paradise with Smithsonian museums scattered across the Mall.
I had only two days to spend in D.C. and it was nowhere near enough. These museums are huge and busy and free, so you really need time to get around them. I believe there are 18 Smithsonian museums in the D.C. area and I was pitifully only able to visit 2 of them. I visited the Air and Space Museum, the National Archives (not a Smithsonian) and the American History Museum; and my highlights were seeing the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Magna Carta and Michelle Obama’s 2009 inauguration dress & Julia Child’s kitchen respectively.
As at my visit, the African American History and Culture Museum was still being built, I would have loved to see that. However, my greatest disappointment was not having the time to mooch around the African Art Museum. I went as far as the foyer of the Natural History Museum, at this point I had already done a few museums, but it was so crowded that I was immediately drained of energy and motivation, so I did an about turn and went home. Bear in mind that seeing the Mall’s delights involves a lot of walking, getting to and around the museums, sights and memorials. A warm memory was when I bought a gigantic pretzel and sat my tired self on a wall directly opposite the National Archives and munched away appreciating how blessed I was to be able to see this part of the world.
Asides, the Smithsonian, visiting other tourist magnets like the White House and Capitol Hill were almost dream-like for me with how surreal it felt. Seeing war memorials were more sobering but equally enjoyable. I was nearly euphoric standing at the Lincoln Memorial and in front of the Reflecting Pool where MLK gave his “I Have a Dream..” speech.
As I went sightseeing on my own, I got to make friends along the way and it was just a great couple of days.I must say, I found it really pleasant being in America, if you have read my two previous posts you won’t be surprised to know that one of the reasons America (at least the states I visited) was so much fun for me was because it had Nigerian vibes. In the sense that Americans, at least the ones I met, were quite chatty and loud, and the average Nigerian is quite chatty and loud and hence I felt quite at home. There was less stranger anxiety and it was much easier to get into conversations with random strangers, than in the UK. So, even though I was a solo tourist in D.C., I did not feel alone as I had free rein to chat with random people without much fear of being given a cold shoulder, in fact most people I got into conversations with initiated the chatting.
So, 3 states down in America, so much more to visit!