Arriving in Washington
Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 2 July 2012.
I am currently sat in Washngton DC on my third full day on my post-graduation, mid-life crisis aversion tour of the USA. My aims: get a tan, recover from the trauma that is a four year degree in Maths at Oxford and of course, explore America.
It took 19 hours door to door to get here. I can now recommend Hugo and Tin Tin as good aeroplane films, and was lucky enough to be sitting next to a Ryan Gosling fan on the Heathrow to JFK flight which made the whole experience more enjoyable. JFK was hectic, they seemed to have different flights leaving through the same gate every 5 minutes plus a flight that was delayed by about half an hour leading to the airport staple of a yelling sweaty man.
Once we got onto the plane I finally got my window seat and had an awesome view of the sun setting over Manhattan. Washington Dulles iwas an oasis of tranquility - mostly new built and empty, with our bags arriving as we did.
Despite booking my shuttle out of the airport for the 28th July, they were nice enough not to strand me and me and a few other travllers headed into town. It was here that I had my first taste of American hospitality, meeting a woman who lives half way between San Fransisco and Yosemite who was happy to put me up and take me to Yosemite when I'm in that part of the woods.
Masuma's apartment is fantastic. A good size, nice to look at, in a great area, close to the metro station, I'm very proud of her!
So on Friday Masuma abandoned me in the centre of Washington (i.e. went to work). I started my way around the tourist routes - the White House ("I know which one the White House is, it got blown up in Independence Day") and the Washington Memorial ("is that the big phallic one?") and optimistically set my sights on the US Capitol. I got half way down the mall ("I know the mall isn't a shopping centre but what is it?") and realized what a terrible mistake I'd made to walk for miles during one of the hottest and most humid days I have ever experienced.
Thank God for widespread air conditioning. After avoiding a complete breakdown I saw I had at least made it as far as the air and space museum. This is hardly breaking news but that place is amazing - I actually got sad that I haven't been into space.
After Masuma came back to pick me up after work we inevitably went shopping, and went to the "nearby" restaurant poets and busboys (my feet still haven't forgiven Masuma for that bit of misinformation). The restaurant was great though, and sweet potato fries are something I need to eat more.
We waited a good half an hour for the metro (for the second time that day) and had no idea how lucky we were it wasn't any longer. A few minutes after arriving back to the flat we heard a weird noise - like someone was playing with the AC, trying to murder us, or wash the windows, depends on your outlook on life. After 5 minutes of freaking out and refusing to look out the window the two Oxford graduates realized it was raining. But in America they have too one up everything England does, so it didn't just rain, we had a serious summer storm complete with 80mph winds and lightening like a paparazzi camera flash. I was excited, Masuma was justifiably terrified, although spent most of the storm watching it on TV and reading out witty tweets. We were lucky to not lose power, but the real devastation was that instagram went down.