Tales from the Big Apple…(well Washington this week!)

This weekend I traveled with four others to Washington DC. The group was a cocktail of Scots, Australians and one New Zealander – all on exchange to Stony Brook and keen to see the sights of America.

So we caught a late train into Penn station. The trip started off a little funny/disastrous. On the second train I did something I will never do again- use the toilet. However desperate times come for desperate measures so I braved it- to my disgrace/loss of dignity. I was bursting for the toilet and found one, a queue formed behind me, however this door wouldn’t shut. I had men getting up to jam it closed- I didn’t want to be trapped in that awful bubble of germs so I decided to pull a lady from across the carriage to stand in front of the foot wide gap. While squatting ‘classyily’ infant of New Yorkers I thought to myself- I should have got my pals the Obamas to pick me up.

With toilet humor over we arrived in Manhattan and went straight to the diner for blueberry pancakes after all it was the morning! Re-fueled and ready to go we caught the 1am megabus to Washington DC- of course it was delayed in a horrible neighborhood that stunk of urine and of course it was the most uncomfortable trip of my life but I was about to spend the weekend in one of the most famous and important capitals in the world so there was no time to complain. I got no sleep – so the day ahead was coffee reliant, something students are no stranger too!

We booked a place to stay through a website where people can rent empty housing.  So we rolled up to the apartment block and it looks like something from gossip girl- the trip was looking up from the toilet disaster!
As it was 8am we had to wait in the lounging area for our room to be ready – we just chilled with the 50″ plasma TV and plush couches! “This is the life,” we all gasped. Once the keys were handed over we opened the door to luxury. With a NBA basketball player, Washington lawyers and congressmen in the block and Nicole Ritchie having stayed in this very apartment it was not a bad find! Fully content with our accommodation and after a little jump around and nosey through the windows at our neighbors we got changed- a big day ahead awaited us! And the Obamas were expecting us for lunch (In my dreams)…

We left the apartment and caught the open top tour bus. This took us around the main moments and buildings of Washington such as the white house, WW2 Memorial, The Trade Centre, numerous museums, the Washington Monument, the Pentagon, and many more. This was a great way to have a look at everything and to catch some great snaps! We hopped off the bus and made our way to Shake Shack for lunch- the most amazing burger restaurant, it is like a luxury McDonalds.

Walking around the streets of DC is such an experience in itself. The clean and quieter streets are far from Manhattan’s style. The Whitehouse was the next stop. It’s amazing how this is in the middle of the city; the president is everyone’s neighbor! Including the woman who has stayed in a tent outside for 25 years protesting! Photos were taken in abundance to say the least – look out for the action shots!

The next morning we made our way to the Newseum – a place where everyone interested in journalism and the media should go. From FBI sections to Pulitzer Prize photographs sections I can surely say that this place is the best museum I have been in and has made a huge impact on the way I view my role as a journalist. After visiting this museum dedicated to the news industry I am proud and also more excited than ever to dive into the journalism scene. Walking around I noticed how much courageous efforts made by journalists have changed the world forever. The museum also had a huge archive which dated back to one of the very first newspapers ever written. If you want to understand the world we live in today I very much feel that you need to understand the media and what’s going on and the Newseum does just that. We spent around three hours wandering around however I could have spent a week in the place!

“I can surely say that this place is the best museum I have been in”

Next on the list of must sees in Washington was Georgetown, the university town which is home to the top law students of the country. The atmosphere in this place was fantastic – everyone was so chilled and cool, dressed in the most fashionable clothes and riding around in Mustangs- what do you expect when the tuition is around $50,000 a year! The houses around Georgetown looked like little dolls houses, all of different shapes, sizes and colours. It really is the perfect little town with great shops, great restaurants and is also homely – it reminded me a lot of Europe as it did not have that commercial, typical Americanized feeling to it.

The day ended with a relaxing dip in our apartment’s roof top hot tub – bliss!

The next day we were sadly leaving Washington at 12 noon so we got up early and headed to Paul’s – a French cafe for breakfast. If there’s one thing I miss the most (of course apart from family, friends and pets of course) it is a good cup of breakfast tea – so this was a treat alongside a slice of apple tart!

We then visited the National Holocaust Museum. I was an emotional wreck to say the least, the pictures and footage and also content of the museum was hard hitting. A room full of concentration camp victims shoes was where I found it the most difficult – the smell of the damp leather was just chilling and brought a lump to my throat. The tour was so cleverly done that it took me back to this time. I took history as a class at school so therefore knew about the awful things that went on in concentration camps during WW2 however to see the shoes, to see actual striped clothing that people wore, the footage of people struggling, the nose measure the Nazi’s and the SS used to determine whether you were Jewish or not just made it crazy real. Although this museum was upsetting and real feeling it was a great experience and again a must visit – after all the war played a huge part of America’s history. Washington is full of history, its streets are like the pages of an Encyclopaedia, its buildings and monuments are the words in a history lesson, it is the place to go to understand America.

The trip to Washington was almost too good to be true. We covered a lot of ground in a couple of days however it also was a relaxing break from Stony Brook. Now its mid week and it’s back to work – reality check for myself as I am here to go to university!

Boston trip booked for the end of the month.

Hope all is well in Glasgow.

Hayley Parr

“It’s amazing how this is in the middle of the city; the president is everyone’s neighbor!”


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