Washington DC

I had been planning to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra in concert again this year after I saw them last year in Toronto.  They had no Canadian tour dates this year so I had to find another place to go see them.  Trans Siberian Orchestra is a unique group in a number of ways.  One of those ways is that there is actually two versions of the group.  One version tours the eastern US and the other tours the west.  After watching both versions on YouTube, I’ve formed the opinion that the eastern version is slightly better.

I chose to see them perform in Richmond, VA because that date and location fit best with my schedule and my wallet.  It was cheapest for me to fly into Washington DC a few days before and fly out of Richmond the day after the concert.  Thus, I spent a few days sightseeing around DC before heading down to Richmond.

National Mall

White House

As an unfortunate coincidence, I happened to be under the weather for the first couple days of the trip.  I first started feeling unwell the day before I flew out while I was still at work.  This is actually not the first(or second) time I’ve been under the weather while travelling.  Fortunately, even when sick, I’m still almost fully functional.  My tennis game would diminish, but other than that, I’m still pretty good.  I think the last time I was actually bedridden due to illness was the mid 1990s.

 

DAY 1

I arrived at Washington Dulles airport early in the morning and took the Metro to downtown.  Like in New York, you have to buy a refillable metro card to use public transit.  I walked to the hostel I was staying at after getting off at the station at McPherson Square.  Most hostels I’ve stayed at have a rule that you can’t check in until the afternoon, but Duo Housing Hostel let me check in early.  After I checked in, I took a much needed nap since I didn’t really get any sleep on the plane due to having a cold.

McPherson Square Station

Before noon, I set out to explore the city.  The weather was brisk, but in my opinion, not really cold.  Most historical monuments in Washington are in pretty close proximity to each other.  I first stopped at Ford’s Theater.  I wasn’t able to go in because it was closed on that day.  So I went across the street to the Peterson House.  The Peterson House is where Abraham Lincoln died the morning of April 15, 1865 after he was shot by John Wilkes Booth the night before.  The house is very well preserved.  Though I do wonder whether or not the artifacts in the house are original from the 1800s or if they have been recreated to show what the inside of the house looked like in 1865.

Peterson House

Lincoln’s death bed

After leaving the Peterson House, I walked to the White House since it wasn’t too far away.  Regardless of what anyone thinks of who is occupying the White House at the moment, it’s still the White House and still cool to be able to say that I went there.  There were no White House tours that I know of so I walked around the perimeter taking pictures.  The house is constantly guarded by secret servicemen.  I can’t imagine that being a fun job in the political climate we live in today.  In the picture below, you can see them on the roof in the center right.

White House

It was getting into the late afternoon and early evening, so I walked back to the hostel after the White House.  I thought about maybe going out to some of the bars, but I chose to stay in since I wasn’t feeling very well.  I spent most of the night coughing and sneezing in the room.  I hope I didn’t keep anyone awake.

 

DAY 2

I was feeling a little bit better, but still under the weather.  I didn’t want to spend too much time in the room, so I set out in the morning to explore more of the city.  Started out by going to Ford’s Theater again, since it was closed the day before.  To go in, you have to pick up a free ticket at the box office.  The theater has several stories.  At the bottom is a museum detailing the events surrounding Lincoln’s assassination and subsequent aftermath.   Afterwards, I sat down in one of the theater seats where a park ranger gave a twenty minute lecture on the events surrounding Lincoln’s death.  After the lecture, I walked up to the balcony and into the actual presidential box where Lincoln was sitting in and stood in the very spot where Booth stood when he shot Lincoln.  It was kinda cool.

Ford’s Theater

Presidential Box

After the theater, I walked to Pennsylvania Ave and then walked eastbound to the US Capitol Building.  Walking down Pennsylvania Ave toward the Capitol is kinda like walking on Congress Ave in Austin, TX.  Similar view.  Going inside the capitol wasn’t an option since most of these nationally significant buildings are heavily secured and only allow authorized personnel in.

Pennsylvania Ave

US Capitol Building
National Mall

After the Capitol, I walked westbound to the Lincoln Memorial via the National Mall.  The National mall is where all spectators gather during the inauguration of a new president.  It’s also been a major venue for other historical events, for example, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech was delivered from there.  On the way to the Lincoln Memorial is the Washington Monument.  The Washington Monument is a tall, pointed structure that was completed and opened to the public in 1888.  It was built to honor George Washington, the first president of the United States.  I believe you were once able to take an elevator to the top of the structure, but that elevator is permanently closed.  The White house is also visible due north from the monument.

Washington Monument

Just west of the Washington Monument is the Lincoln Memorial.  It looks a little bit like the Parthenon in Athens, and inside, it contains a large statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in an armchair.  It’s a nice view from up there.

Lincoln Memorial

View from the Lincoln Memorial

After leaving the Lincoln Memorial, I walked back to the hostel to rest.  I had been walking for about five hours and was beginning to get tired.  I, again, thought about going out at night but, again, decided to stay in and rest.

 

DAY 3

I was finally starting to feel normal again.  Still coughing and sneezing though.  I spent part of the day walking around again.  I was looking around to see if there was a mall or any shopping area.  There’s a mix residential and high-end shopping plaza called City Center DC near where I was staying but it didn’t have anything practical enough for me to buy.  Nice stores though.

City Center DC
Chinatown at dusk

 

DAY 4 – RICHMOND, VA

I woke up early and walked to Union Station to catch a Greyhound bus to Richmond, VA.  Union Station is located a short distance north of the US Capitol building on Massachusetts Ave.  The area between the neighborhood I stayed at and Union Station is definitely less affluent than the neighborhood I stayed in.   I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it looked like a bad area.  But I would be weary of walking around there at night by myself.

North Capitol St

Massachusetts Ave
Union Station

Via the bus, Richmond is about two and a half hours away from Washington DC.  I slept most of the way there.  From far away, downtown is ugly and unappealing.  It doesn’t look like anything special.  But for the fact that I was going to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Richmond never was and probably never would have been on my list of places to visit.

Richmond, VA

After arriving at the Greyhound station in Richmond, I took a cab to the Omni Hotel in downtown where my friend Jeff booked a room.  Jeff is a flight attendant for United Airlines who I met on a flight about a year and a half ago.  He agreed to go see the show with me.

After I dropped off my stuff at the hotel, I walked around downtown taking pictures.  Though Richmond looks ugly from far way, when you’re actually in downtown, there is a historic area that indeed does have a lot of character.

At night, Jeff and I went to the Richmond Coliseum to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra perform.  I got floor seats this year.  They were great seats but they were right by the aisle where other people kept walking to use the restroom.  Thus, people frequently walked in front of us on the way to the restroom.  It was still a good show nonetheless.  Of all the groups I’ve seen perform live, TSO, easily puts on the best show.  I would absolutely go see them again.

Though unfortunately, I never got around to getting a picture of Jeff.  At least not one that was worthy of posting on here.

 

DAY 5

Jeff and I both had early morning flights back to our respective homes.  Los Angeles for him, and Hawaii for me.  I had two connections before finally arriving in Hawaii.  Because I still wasn’t one hundred percent better, I was glad to be back home and sleep in my own bed.

I’ve done a lot of traveling this year that hasn’t been documented on here….especially between Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay Area.  So much so that it’s becoming very exhausting.  I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon though.  Life is too short and the world is too big to not travel.

Maybe one day I will be ready to settle down and lead a “normal” life…..but now is NOT that time.

Richmond International Airport

 

 

 

 

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