Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Washington D.C.

Going to D.C. has improved my sleeping arrangements for my stay abroad. Pepe, an Argentinian friend, organized a bus from New York (near Penn station) to D.C.. The bus was equipped with wireless internet and was actually the place I uploaded the last blogpost. We stayed in the apartment of Pepe's girlfriend Pili (short for Pilar), who lived only a few blocks away from the White House. As it turned out, a friend of Pepe and me is studying American law in New York and he contacted him immediately. Zapo, short for Ignacio Zapiola, was my host for the days when returning to New York (more about that in the next blogpost).

Appreciating D.C.

There were three things I wanted to do in D.C.: Walking down the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol, visiting the famous Smithsonian museum of American History and eat a burger where Obama had lunch with Medvedev. As I had only planed to stay in D.C for one and a half day, I had to figure out a way in order for all my plans to fit in.
In the first part you will encounter my activities and in the second part I will describe my impressions of the Museum of American History in more detail.

National Mall

I decided that in order to enjoy the famous burger at noon, I was going to need some workout. So I ran from the White House to the Washington Monument, to the Lincoln Memorial,d to the Capitol, and back to the White House (had I not not have taken so many pictures during the run, I would have had a better pace... all my friends are telling me that I was slow!). The National Mall is oriented from east to west and the total length from the steps of the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial is 1.9 miles (3.0 km).

- The Lincoln memorial was built to honor Abraham Lincoln who was the 16th President of the United States. (More about the famous presidents in the historical paragraph)
- The Washington Monument, which is a 555 feet (170 m) tall obelisk, was built to remember the first President (George Washington). The construction dured 36 years between 1848 and 1884. The obelisk was completed nearly 30 years after the architect's death. The delay was caused by a lack of funds and the American Civil War.
- The United States Capitol can be compared to the Federal Palace of Switzerland, and it is the place where the Congress holds its session. The Congress consists of the Senate (two senators per U.S. state) and the House of Representatives (435 voting representatives proportionally distributed to the 50 U.S. states) and is the legislative power.

Ray's Hell Burger

Coming home hungry from running, Pepe, Pili and I left D.C. for Ray's Hell Burger. Even if it is just a few Metro stations away, we were no longer in D.C. but in Virginia. This trip may seem very time-consuming just for having a burger, but it was totally worth it. On the menu were only burgers, but the variety was incredible. One was able to choose either one of the 13 burgers from the menu or customize his own choosing from many different ingredients. I chose the "B.I.G. Poppa" which contained a juicy "au Poivre Burger", aged Danish blue cheese, Cognac and Sherry sautéed mushrooms, and grilled onions.

The B.I.G. Poppa

Smithsonian Museum of American History

The most interesting exhibitions of the Museum of American History were in my opinion "America on the Move" where the evolution of transportation in the US was documented and "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" which was about the lives of the the 44 American Presidents of the United States of America.

America on the Move

The Museum's transportation exhibition consists of 26,000 square feet (over 2300 square meters) of history about the methods of transportation. Detailed documentaries about the Mississippi waterway telling the most impressive stories about the obstacles that the old paddle steamers encountered. Difficulties ranged from shoals due to moving sand banks to the Black Death (also known as pest) because of hygiene problems on the boat. Even today, the Mississippi River is very important for the transportation of corn, wheat, and cotton.

The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden

On most dollar bills in circulation are faces of one of the Presidents of the United States except for the 10$ and the 100$ Bill.

1$ George Washington
5$ Abraham Lincoln
20$ Andrew Jackson
50$ Ulysses Grant

But what did they do to deserve such honor? The exhibition about the American Presidents held a lot of information about who they were and their accomplishments as presidents.

George Washington (President from 1789-1797)
George Washington was commander in charge and considered to be responsible for the victory in the American Revolutionary War 1775 until 1783. He is regarded as the "Father of his country" initiating the Constitution from which the Swiss Federal Constitution is deviated.

Abraham Lincoln (President from 1861-1865)
Having led the country through the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was the first president being assassinated. He's most known quote is about the principles of nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.

Andrew Jackson (President from 1829-1837)
Although Jackson is praised as protector of democracy and liberty of the American citizens, he is criticized for his support for slavery and Indian removal. Jackson was the last president to have been a veteran of the American Revolution.

Ulysses Grand (President from 1769-1877)
Grand was military commander during the Civil War. After Grant left Office, he made a bid for a third presidential term which was unsuccessful. Even though Grant won many battles for the USA, he dyed being bankrupt.

After the assassination of Lincoln, there have been over 20 known attempts to kill Presidents of the United States. The most recent one who was killed was John F. Kennedy during a political trip in Dallas, Texas. The shortest time of presidency was 31 days by the 9th president William Harrison. Even though the weather was cold, Harrison held a long inauguration speech. He died 31 days after of pneumonia.

Eisenhower's Golfclubs

I left D.C. with Pepe to his home in Darien about which I will write in my next blogpost.
I uploaded all my photos here: http://gallery.me.com/maettu712#gallery

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