Thursday was a day for the Metro and a scorching sun. I had an early morning as the rental car had to be in at eight. After I dropped the car I got on the Metro and got off at the Federal Triangle on my way to the National Museum of American History. I was standing at a map trying to orientate myself and find the right direction when a woman asked if I needed help and sent me on my way. I find the Americans are very helpful and friendly except those bag checking guards – they can be rude and give people attitude if your bag is not open already, if you do not stand behind the line, if you moved forward too quickly and they haven’t called you yet.
I arrived at the museum at nine but it only opened at ten so I decided to just sit in a park, have a cold drink and plan the rest of my day. I enjoyed the museum which tells the story of American History through exhibitions of transportation (with iconic models such as the Ford, Buick and Titanic), lighting (with the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison), the evolution of machinery, textiles, communication, religion, communities, music, photography and people that shaped the country with reference to slavery, democracy and the promise of freedom. There was also a section on American culture with a short film playing with clips of all the famous cars from movies which I enjoyed very much and other famous items such as Dorothy’s red shoes, the first outfit from the TV series Adventures of Superman, the first records, Apple computer and Mohammed Ali’s signed boxing gloves. Other areas told of all American wars and the American flag. It was an exciting and fun morning.
I was walking across The Mall to the Smithsonian castle but it was now extremely hot (38 degrees Celsius). It reminded me of summers in the Karoo. I stopped for American lemonade which was very refreshing and then went to the Freer Gallery of Art which celebrates Asian art and has a lovely courtyard with a little fountain.
The Smithsonian Institute building (aka The Castle) offers information and a place to eat but the most striking thing is the building itself which is build out of sandstone so it looks like red bricks which is in contrast to the other concrete buildings around The Mall. I was walking around outside on my way to another museum when I found this little garden path and habitat for butterflies. There seems to be a little hidden gem everywhere if you just keep your eyes open. I sat on a bench under a tree and enjoyed the scenery and saw something that looked like a bee but about 6-8 times the size of a regular bee so I am not sure what it was.
I went to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden which is essentially a park with art placed all over. There is also a big fountain in the middle of the garden and a lot of people were seeking refuge from the hot sun sitting with their feet in the water trying to cool down. I walked around to appreciate the art and had an ice cream under a tree. On my way back to the Metro I walked past the US Navy Memorial with the lone sailor statue and ended my day at Union station which has a whole mall inside with shops and restaurants but it is also has an interesting and beautiful building. It was a hot but awesome day.