Last year I spent a month travelling the States. It started with a bit of city hopping (LA, New York, DC) before picking up a car in Orlando and spending the next 3 weeks driving across the South to LA. Of all the cities I went to, my favourite by far is Washington DC. I know, I know! You thought it’d be New York right? Everyone loves New York! Well, my experience of the city was probably coloured by a few negative experiences, but I won’t let one trip define New York for me. I’ll give it another chance at some stage. But DC? Bloody Fantastic.

*Note – On this trip I travelled with only a smartphone as my camera, which didn’t work out as well as hoped so the photos aren’t too great. It was also winter and therefore overcast or raining much of the time.

Washington Memorial

View across the lake to the Washington Memorial

Arriving in DC off of a Bolt Bus with a new friend I had met in New York, we navigated the city subway and headed to the HI-Hostel, our home for the next four days. Dinner was first on the agenda, and we made our way to a burger joint with yet another new friend we picked up during the 5-minutes we were in the hostel dorm. I love how easy it is to meet people when you’re travelling!

Afterwards, we joined an evening walking tour of Georgetown which was run by the hostel – one of many free activities they put together for their guests. Our guide Marc took us around the historic neighbourhood, past high-end restaurants where you can often spot celebrities dining (no-one we recognised this time, sadly), stopping at former JFK residences and making our way to the prestigious Georgetown University, where the students were having some kind of dance performance. We invited ourselves in to take a look and wander the halls, before meeting up again and ending the night at local bar Third Edition, where we got to know our travel companions better. As it turned out, they were a great bunch of people and we spent the next few days exploring DC together.

A Chapel at Georgetown University.

A Chapel at Georgetown University. Smartphone cameras do not do well at night!

The next morning we all met up again for another walking tour – this time to explore Union Station and a number of parliamentary buildings, including the Capital Building, Library of Congress and Supreme Court. Afterwards, we all headed for a burger at Good Stuff Eatery. Apparently it’s a favourite of Barrack and Michelle Obama, so I had to have the “Michelle Melt” – a turkey and brie concoction.

At that point we said goodbye to a few of our travel companions who had to attend a conference. The rest of us decided to walk around the National Mall, visiting all the major memorials and getting our bearings for the next few days when we would return to check out the museums.

View Across the National Mall to the Capital Building

View Across the National Mall to the Capital Building

FDR Memorial

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt

Quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt

Squirrel!! Those of us from squirrel-less countries took ridiculous amounts of photos of this tenacious wee chap.

Squirrel!! Those of us from squirrel-less countries took ridiculous amounts of photos of this tenacious wee chap.

That night, we all headed out on the town together. We started at a bar that offered an all-you-could-drink happy-hour deal for $10. The bar was TINY! which you couldn’t tell until you’d paid your money and headed in. Still, it was fun. After happy-hour was over we started bar-hopping and the rest of the night was a blur of dancing, drinking, yelling, deep-and-meaningfuls, and hugging complete strangers. It was a great night out! Predictably though, the next morning was not! Oh well, it was worth it. The next day was spent resting up, and saying goodbye to our new friends.

My final day in DC was spent exploring the world-class museums, starting with the Air and Space Museum, followed by the Museum of the American Indian (which was surprising small – I kept thinking I was missing a turn-off somewhere as the museum seemed to take up only one end of the large building, but I think the rest of the building is dedicated to research), and lastly the National Museum of Natural History, which was my favourite of the three. Dinosaurs, hominids and giant sloths – what’s not to like?

Giant Sloths

Giant Sloths! So cool.

Finishing up with dinner at a local brewery, it was then back to the hostel to pack up my things, head to bed and reflect on the last few days. Washington DC was such a peaceful city compared with New York. Wandering its streets was a joy, with so much to see and without crowds of people all jostling for space. But probably the most important reason I loved DC so much, is because of the people I met there. Both locals and travellers alike, everyone I met in DC were so friendly and open that it was hard to leave the city with anything but positive feelings. I didn’t get to see everything I set out to, largely because of the sheer amount to see and do. But now I get to go back someday and discover all those things I missed.

Do you love DC as much as I do? What’s your favourite US city?