Monday, January 19, 2009

Day Before Inauguration

Today was completely fun, full of adventure, and nice people from everywhere.

Our first task of the day was LEARN THE METRO. We hiked over to the Takoma station - took about 15 minutes from our hotel - and discovered that there is a terrific little coffee shop across from the station called the Drifting Nomad. We took a few minutes there to have hot tea and delectable filled croissants.

Then, we headed over to the Metro. We already had our pre-paid commemorative passes, which made everything so much easier. We also have to say - all of the staff we encountered anywhere today were soooooo nice and helpful, and didn't mind answering all of the touristy questions at all. We were a little nervous at first because we didn't know how it all worked, and it all seemed so HUGE. But, we just took our time and it all worked out.

The Metro really is pretty self-explanatory once you get the hang of it. But, boy are there a lot of people on it. And this wasn't even the busy day...we can only imagine what it will be like tomorrow. We went into Metro Center (very complex) and had to make a transfer, which took us a little time to figure out, but we did it. We also want to give a shout out to Sarah Herring of Palm Beach County, Florida, who generously gave us her copy of "Riding the Metro During the Presidential Inauguration Weekend" brochure. We also met a woman from Australia, who came all the way here just for Inauguration. She said that most of the people she knows back home are very excited about what's happening in our country, especially because so much of what we do affects the rest of the world.

We got off at the Smithsonian station and it turns out that's where all the action was! (We forgot that this stop will be closed tomorrow; we meant to test out the Federal Triangle stop, which is what we'll need to take tomorrow.) People were strolling all along the Mall. Huge TV screens and speakers are set along the Mall at intervals. And, various TV stations and other interviwers were everywhere.

We also saw the infamous 5,000 port-a-pottys! They're in endless rows along both sides of the Mall, and it looks like there are so many, but a news broadcast tonight mentioned that if one does the math, there is one potty to every 400 people (oh, dear). We also scoped out the bench we'd like to grab for the big event, but who knows if that will happen.

One of the loveliest moments of the day came while the live show at the Lincoln Memorial was being re-broadcast on the large TVs. At one point, was singing "One Love" and everyone was singing, smiling, and dancing, and the feeling was so wonderful. It feels so good to be surrounded by hundreds of happy and excited people.

We've been to DC before and have seen many of the sights, which meant today was just for relaxing, revisiting something if we wanted to, and basically getting our bearings. We stopped into the Smithsonian Castle and discovered a lovely cafe, where we got soup, cider, tea, and dessert. Many visitors from southern climes were also inside trying to get warm (they thought it was cold!).

We hiked down past the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, but discovered it was closed to visitors, even though it was teeming with people - must be staffers working on some type of staging. We also saw lots of troops in BDUs (battle dress uniforms)...they didn't mind posing at all with blondie! Everyone was taking photos with the troops, and they were having a hard time making it even a few steps before someone else wanted a photo. At one point, they were directed into formation, so we're guessing they will have some official duties at some point tomorrow.

After enjoying the crowds, the sights, and the good feelings for several hours, we then hopped back on the Metro (old pros at this point!) and zipped over to Chinatown. The Metro exit there is gorgeous - over the escalators is a huge fan shape with very colorful lights - couldn't stop taking pictures.

We had seen online photos of the Chinatown gate, and were thrilled to get to see it in person. It's huge and intricate - so exotic to look at. We also found a good gift shop with a very nice proprietress, and bought some gifts to take home.

Then, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant that had been recommended on the Internet - Chinatown Express. It was very intriguing on the outside, with a window showing the meats hanging inside. Inside, it was packed and bustling; we discovered a waiting line, but not too long and we were seated fairly quickly. I ordered the Chinese barbeque plate and my daughter ordered vegetable soup and sweet & sour shrimp. She liked her meal a lot, and mine was okay. Loved the ambience, liked the food. Very cool surroundings, and obviously very popular - every table was full and people were waiting to get in.

After dinner, it was getting really chilly and windy and we headed back to the Metro. Outside the entrance were very friendly people with official Inauguration signs that said "Do you have a question? Ask me." How very nice. We continue to be very impressed with the obvious planning, organization, and friendliness that are characterizing this event.

We made it back to Takoma, stopped at the Nomad for chamomile tea and a cookie, and walked back to the hotel. Now, it's time to decide just how early we want to get up in the am.

PS - Thank you to Brian, George & Nancy, Betsy, Jen and Eleanor for your thoughtful phone calls and emails! And thanks to "Ace Bissell" for the photography today!


Blair said...

Wow! I just read all of your inauguration posts and it seems like you and your daughter had an amazing time! That is such an unforgettable experience, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing it. I loved all the descriptions of how joyful, excited and *hopeful* everyone was!!

Loveanewidea said...

Thanks for visiting and reading! We had such a great time, and are really happy we were able to attend in person. We brought the great feelings home with us!


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