Indeed, it is. Who would forget their first? Let me share you my first, ehem, travel.
Well, technically, this wasn’t the first time I visited another country (I visited my relatives in Sharjah, UAE in ’03 and stayed mostly indoors or the nearest mall/City Center under supervision because the parentals are “old school” plus the desertland was empty back then). But this was the first time that I really got to feel what another place other than my home had to offer. That overwhelming, surreal feeling when you’re in a new place would always come back. Just like in Cat Stevens’ song, “First Cut is the Deepest”, but this was in a good way. 🙂
As someone who comes from a third world country, desire doesn’t immediately allow you to go places that you’ve always dreamed about. It’s a bit more complicated, but nothing is impossible. Possibly 80% of the time, you’d need to get a visa, and anyone who needs it would know how much of a hassle and possible risk (of rejection) it could be. Take it from me, I went through the process far more than half of the countries I’ve been to & each time, the anticipation is worse than the hassle, and this has made me paranoid!
One of those countries that has very strict visa rules and high chances of rejection (maybe for Filipinos) is the United States of America.
Although I have a few relatives in the east coast who’ve always invited me, I always let it pass up, waiting until I am confident enough to go through the process. Somehow, fate and will brought me to the US a few years earlier than my target (a different story that I will tell you about later), and voila! I am in the land of the free!
My closest relatives live in Virginia (near DC). With that, I had the opportunity to visit the capital of this country.
Washington DC, where do I begin?
Of course at the top of the Washington Monument, with the panoramic view of Washington DC. See for yourself.
The U.S. Capitol
Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin
National World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial
Here’s the rest of DC as viewed from the top of the Washington Monument.
You’d expect that I probably have tons of photos. Especially that this wasn’t a weekender kind of getaway. Well, that is correct. However, 95% of it has my face (or my companion’s face) embedded in it. 😀 I was once the “traditional first-timer visitor”. The extremely-excited-to-have-my-photo-taken kind of tourist.
Looking back at it right now, it’s quite annoying to see my face that often yet it’s really funny! What I must’ve felt back then, in dire need of a good photo of myself with almost every square meter of where I was at! 😀
I’ve managed to luckily have a few that are somewhat acceptable for public viewing. Here’s a photo of the White House where I removed my face and exerted extra effort to make it look Presidential.
The back of the White House
Washington DC is clean and not crowded (relatively compared). It has a lot of monuments and museums and one day isn’t enough to see them all, unless you just want a quick look at it. I got to visit particularly the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
I just have to mention, I still get a tingle everytime I see any familiar surrounding on TV or in the movies. Imagine how I would react like as if I know everything about DC when I saw the “Night at the Museum”, NCIS or Scandal. 🙂 Anyway…
Please enjoy the rest of DC.
Lincoln Memorial past the WWII Memorial
A view of the Washington Monument from the WWII Memorial
National World War II Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Some of my favorite moments are sitting in front of the Smithsonian while watching people jog (ehem), chilling out by the tidal basin while observing the sunset and having the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial disappear before my eyes (and at the same time, taking really ridiculous and embarrassing photos), getting refreshed by the brush of air while sitting in front of the WW2 Memorial (and again w/ wacky shots), and walking across the Capitol despite having a sprained ankle from a stairway fall 15 minutes prior.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial by the Tidal Basin
Yes, on my nth day at the Mall, I stupidly fell off the stairs at Hard Rock Cafe (during lunch) before talking my day walk. Because of this, I had to go home early so as not to further hurt myself (and because I was set to go to NY days after that).
The U.S. Capitol, taken after I sprained my ankle
This was in 2008 and it still feels fresh, like as if it was just yesterday. Maybe because this very first visit of mine to America was somewhat an awakening that it’s really great out there, far away from my hometown. Don’t get me wrong, eh? I love my country and growing up here is a very humbling experience that I will hold dearly for the rest of my life. What I’m trying to say is that visiting America is like a realization and being proven that something just as beautiful yet just as different as what I’ve been used to exists elsewhere.
I like how the people seems to mind their own business and you’re free to do what you want and just be yourself (and no one would judge you for that!). I also like the discipline and the respect for other people (and their personal space). I like a lot of things and I could go on until dawn.
It was a total culture shock for me–in a very good way! To say that I was overwhelmed is an understatement. And I like that I felt that too. Indeed, first
cut taste is the deepest sweetest. Hah!
“I am injured and I didn’t realize it was still on stop sign. Ooopsss!”
1. The National Mall and Memorial Parks is really worth a visit. Spend as much time as you can, especially if you enjoy going to museums. Wear comfortable walking shoes (as usual ;)).
2. I would suggest to go to the Washington Monument first, to get a panoramic view of DC. From there, you could plan the rest of your day, which area to visit first and then move around from there.
3. There’s so much to see here. Here are a few that I’ve seen, whether up close or just a view from afar. You could put this in your DC itinerary should you visit it anytme soon.
Washington Monument, Korean War Veterans Memorial, National WW II Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, US Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, and the White House, Smithsonian Museum, Holocaust Museum, International Spy Museum, and the National Gallery.
*Might do another set of post for Museums in DC. 😀
4. Additional places to visit (that I haven’t seen) is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
5. I heard the Cherry Blossoms are worth a visit during spring, so I guess there’s that.
6. You’d need to book a tour in advance if you want to go inside the White House.