This post is a part of my last year culture travel experience in the USA. The only reason why I did not write it earlier is because – the fall-autumn came, and I the experience was something perfectly summer-related. I will be talking about a day in Washington DC in July.
It was one of the three days spent in the city, but this day I was free. There are many possibilities to walk and discover, but… it was hot. As a European, I will say that it was about 42 degrees Celsius, and I think it means about 100 American degrees Fahrenheit. Culture differences start on simple things. Museums come as a great idea for too hot (or too cold) days, isn’t it?
A funny morning situation
I went to this museum tour with two colleagues, one from China, and other from Georgia (country). Before visiting our first museum, we decided to have some coffee and snacks in a Starbucks – one of many in this city. I was even wondering why did they need to open so many Starbucks shops. Then I realized why – the offer-demand thing is real in that city. So, after arriving in front of the first Starbucks we saw, we noticed that it was – closed! Closed due to electricity failure.
It wasn’t much difficult to find another one – it was “a block away”. But, this Starbucks was devastated, no any single snack to eat, and a long queue to get a coffee! We asked why were they in such a rush, and what they answered was hilarious – because a Starbucks next to them had closed due to electrical failure. So funny to me, but maybe just because I’m a European and I live a different coffee and breakfast culture 🙂
Museum Choices in Washington DC
Washington DC is a city rich in museums. The whole Smithsonian “collection” would take me days to visit properly. Most are located within the National Mall area and apparently close to each other. However, the distances between the buildings are not heat-friendly, since you also need to cross the large streets. People who also visited the Belem district in Lisbon during the summer know what I’m talking about and this area is much larger than Belem.
So as we were three people, we just decided to visit museums we would all like to visit, with the focus on preferences of each one. I wanted to go to the National gallery of Art, the guy from Giorgia wanted to visit The National Space and Air Museum, and the Chinese girl wanted to go to the Museum of American History. We all wanted to go to the National Museum of Natural History. We still wanted to visit the Lincoln Memorial. How was it possible in one day? I will tell you.
So, we passed through a different area of human intellectual activities – arts, natural sciences, sociology/anthropology, technical sciences, and history.
I’m not sure if I would recommend you the same choices, because – it was too little time, maybe I would recommend my readers to try a more relaxed program. I wanted to spend more time in these museums. The most important thing – these museums have free admission 😀
The National Gallery of Art
The first place to visit was obvious to me – the National Gallery of Art. So bad we had only about 1 hour and a half, for this, because I could spend a day enjoying all these pieces of art. The Museum’s cafeteria is a dream. Unlike Philadelphia Museum of Art, this museum may be more interesting to experienced art fanciers, rather than “beginners” in arts.
So, for anyone who loves arts and art history, this museum is a must go. If you are a scientific or a technical mind – skip to the point 2 and point 4 of this article.
See also: Solomon Guggenheim Museum, NYC
The National Museum of Natural History
In my opinion, this is the most impressive museum of Washington DC, and it’s suitable for any audience – though I’m not a science person, I’m curious about seeing wonders of nature. A long queue to enter in this museum should not frighten you because it moves fast. We stood at the end of the line, and we were in after about 20 minutes.
The crowded large rooms of this museum hide much information and things to learn, so we needed to be careful to find the most interesting things. We stayed most of the time inside the geology section, because – wow, minerals! Curiously, back in 2015 I had a similar visit to the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.
Surely, after staying in the geology section, we also passed through large animals rooms, but it took us tiiiime…
The Museum of American History
This is a museum every country could have, to summarize what their culture is all about. I know, many countries are very small, like my country for instance, but… anyway. It has nothing to do with politics. It is just about lives of common people, and about popular culture. This is the museum where I took a few funny pictures and could imagine the real scenery. Sadly, we had only about an hour to visit it, because we stayed too much time in the previous one. Do you know about my theory that museums answer your questions about the destination(s) you visit? If you a non-American, and visiting the USA, Washington DC is a city you should not miss. You should also not miss this museum.
See also: Discover Zagreb in 7 easy steps
The National Air and Space Museum
This one is monumental! Real airplanes, rockets, any kind of “devices” able to fly around the Earth or Space… the history of technology at a glance. I could see so many families having fun, curious children and their delighted parents. This is a high-quality educational museum, where learning about aviation and space technology is a joy. The whole topic is even less familiar to me than the natural history, but, I totally enjoyed to visit this museum. Another important thing to mention is the Museum’s shop. As my dad is a fan of aviation, I bought a t-shirt as a gift for him, printed with the image of a vintage airplane.
After leaving the National Air and Space Museum, breathing a bit of this hot air, and realizing it’s one hour more than we expected to be at this point, we decided to take a cab – taxi. In 10 minutes we were right in front of the Lincoln memorial. It was about 5 pm, and the air was getting wet, apart from being hot. Crowds were standing inside and outside of the Memorial with the staircase full of people taking selfies. We exchanged a few photo sessions. I don’t know why, but this building didn’t impress me much, although I respect its historical value. A thing I really loved was the view over a part of Washington DC, which is wonderful.
So it was a crazy day, I got a little bit sunburnt, but just a little bit, since I spent most of the time indoors. For the next similar occasion, I will use some sunscreen even if I will be spending indoors most of the time.