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Why I loved Washington D.C.

by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez  from Colombia

If somebody tells you that you can know Washington DC in two or three days, please be deaf, I was one week and I think I need to come back again.
Washington D.C., the reflecting pool on the National Mall by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

In a time when U.S.A is governed by one of the most unpopular Presidents that this country has had, to visit this capital could be the chance for a change of perspective.

I stayed for a week in this beautiful city and I had the chance of enjoying it with calm, without hurry and I discovered how the power of its past is reflected in the aesthetic, the architecture and the culture of this city. Taking a walk through the parks, the monuments and the museums allow you to have contact with history and modern life at the same time.

Washington D.C., the William Jefferson Clinton Building by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

My first advice is where to stay. If money is not a problem, then you can find very good hotels and apartments in the city. But, if like me you prefer spending money in food and experiences, I suggest to look for an option in one of the nearest states, as Maryland or Virginia, any case being sure that you have a Metro station nearby. I was on Germantown (in the house of a very dear friend of mine) and every day I took the Metro to downtown. That system is so organized, friendly, good priced and fast. To use it saving money you need to buy a Smartrip® card using your credit card in one of the machines located in any station. On its website you can find the price of your trips, then previously you can calculate an approximate value to reload your card.  And don´t do the rookie mistake I did: you need to pass your card both at the entrance and the exit of the system. I was several minutes watching how to get out because the turnstile blocked me, until I realized that I needed to pass the card again.

Washington D.C., MetroRail System by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

In downtown I chose bicycle as my mode of transport, because there´s a public system of renting bikes. In “Capital Bikeshare” you can rent one for 2 dollars, if you have one trip by less than 30 minutes. It means you take your bicycle and return it again in any station of the system, before 30 minutes. Or you can buy a one-day or a three-day pass. Download the Bikeshare map and keep it with you, so you can decide your route at the beginning of the day. Why did I choose a bicycle? Because if you need to go from a monument to other, or from a museum to other, you are going to see 2 or 3 blocks in a city map, then you think: it´s near, let´s walk. But when you start your adventure, you realize that they are so large, that you feel you have walked about 10 blocks! Distance is an important issue to consider. I suggest to go for a walk for one or two days, because that’s the best way to know, breathe and feel the city. But, if because of time, you need to visit at least 2 monuments a day, you need to save time, and a bicycle is the best option.

Washington D.C., Capital Bikeshare station by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

I chose fall like the season for my trip, because I dreamed with landcapes with colored trees in the city. The weather was perfect. Sun, blue sky and fresh wind. Mid-March to Mid-April could be a very good option too, because it is the period of time which the cherry blossoms bloom around the “Tidal Basin”. That´s one of the reasons I have to come back.

Washington D.C., the Tidal Basin by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

Once I was in downtown and had my bicycle, I was ready for my adventure. In Washington DC you can find museums and monuments for every person. It doesn´t matter if you like culture, history, science or technology, there is a perfect place for you, the very same thing happens if you want to walk, do exercise or have a very good food in a restaurant. And good news: all admissions to museums are free.

Washington D.C., taking a ride on the National Mall by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

My trip included the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and my favorites: the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and The National Gallery of Art. But, as I said before, it depends on your preferences.

Washington D.C., Library of Congress by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

Keep in mind that a must would be to visit the monuments and the government buildings, located at the National Mall. I mean this route: Library of Congress, The Capitol, The White House, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. I have taken 3 days visiting these amazing places. Much better if you take time to know the history, the reasons beyond these constructions, the past of the United States of America. I am not an American fan, but I have to recognize the momentum of these beautiful buildings and monuments.

Washington D.C., the World War II Memorial on the National Mall by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez

Finally my last advice: as I said before distances are large. I suggest to carry on a sandwich or meal in case you can´t find a place to have lunch or dinner. Maybe, if you are lucky and find one, it could be expensive or have limited assortment.  Use your meal in case of emergency until you find an adequate place to eat. Some buildings have food courts, Google Maps is a very good assistant in this situation.

I hope you enjoy Washington as much I did. Prepare your mind and your senses for an unforgettable trip. I promise, that like me, you are going to want come back again.


If you want see more by Ana María Bedoya-Vélez this is her Flickr Page

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