Updated: Sep 15
What to do, sightseeing with a Washingtonian, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Reflecting pool, White House, Kings Dominion, Chihuahua race, free museums.
As I write these lines, I have already been to Washington DC once for the filming of NOMADES. I was about to go back there from May 5 to 10, 2023 to see my friend Cameron and his wife Elvira who had helped us with the shooting of my third film (AURORA on South America). Little mashup of my two visits!
A symbolic construction project
Running parallel to Constitution Ave., a huge 19-foot-tall statue of a seated man with a serious but compassionate gaze watches us from above. This is Abraham Lincoln, a man remembered and loved across the United States for lifting his people out of the Civil War and freeing 4 million people from slavery. The monument was built according to the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
Washington Monument, The Reflecting Pool and the United States Capitol
At the opposite, we marvel at this swimming pool before entering the Lincoln monument, The Reflecting Pool. It is probably the most filmed icon in American movies to represent Washington DC. From the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument reminds us of the “testimony of the American capacity to overcome exclusion” according to its artist. Behind it, the dome of the United States Capitol symbolizes the strength of American union.
Did you know that several governmental places in the world are imagined grandiosely like this, for example, in Canberra (Australia) or in Brasília (Brazil). Personally, I love this type of architecture and construction, which goes beyond our simple overview and where you have to look at a map to get a general idea of the scale of the work.
For example, three kilometers from the Lincoln Monument, stands the statue of General Ulysses S. Grant on his horse at the foot of Capitol Hill. The two important men look at each other. It's not random, as the two helped each other during the Civil War. The iconography continues like this, following the moments of American history.
White House and Pentagon: skip your turn
In 2016, I had only passed in front of the white house due to a lack of budget (and, I must admit, of interest). This year, visiting it was my intention. But we learn that international visitors are not allowed at the moment. The reason remains a mystery, but we imagine things. We keep reading. In the White House, it is forbidden to bring weapons and explosives, things that go without saying, but we had a good laugh when we got to the item: ''Forbidden to bring martial arts'' . I told Michaël that he couldn't go in because he did judo when he was young. (lol)
So, here is the same angle of view that I had seen and which had not impressed me. Ditto for the pentagon, in the films, we always see the architecture from above, seen with a drone. But down to earth, I don't even know if it's worth going to see, personally. You won't even be able to take pictures anyway. There are so many things to do in the area, that I would advise focusing your energies elsewhere!
Museums for all tastes
The city is loaded with all kinds of museums. It's up to you to choose the subject that interests you. No matter your age, the creators of the museums have made sure that they are suitable for everyone.
You can't get tired of going to the National Museum of Natural History, especially since it's free. You can see all the fauna, flora and an incredible collection of minerals, dinosaur models, life-size animals, etc. No wonder the museum is packed!
Super interesting day at the National Air and Space Museum, I love science fiction movies and everything related to space, I was really happy. Especially since it's free for everyone, it's even better. Only half of the museum was open, and despite everything, we spent a few hours inside. There was a large section devoted entirely to the first step on the moon. The authentic suit that Armstrong used to go to space was on display, spaceship parts fished out of the ocean, examples of freeze-dried food packets in space and type of diet, simulations in post piloting; I can't list everything here, it would be excessive! Speaking of the cockpit, the largest section is obviously for airplanes. We can observe the oldest plane that was flown in 1903, see what a captain's cabin looks like, observe different models hanging from the ceiling...again, there is so much to see, touch, feel, you can't get bored, that's guaranteed. The museum is obviously interactive, with short videos that attract our attention everywhere, video and arcade games, buttons with the inscription “press here”, other signs that say “look up”! One of the most interesting museums I have had the chance to visit so far.
And another free surprise awaited us in a museum of contemporary art at the Hirshhorn. To be one with eternity is the artist's goal, with this short and magnificent exhibition, which is very amusing.
Event: Chihuahua Race (around May 5)
In honor of the Mexican-themed ''Cinco de Mayo'' holiday, the highly anticipated Chihuahua Race event was held on the waterfront at the ''District Pier at The Wharf'' on this glorious Saturday of May. It was a good thing because our friend Elvira is of this nationality, we had obviously just come from a trip to Mexico and in addition, the mother of our host Cameron has a chihuahua named Chichi! Surprisingly, they even made us jerseys to make us feel part of the team. In all, 150 chihuahuas took part in this friendly race divided into 25 laps. In the meantime, there were free games available for spectators, dog costume contests and large giant screens to follow the progress of the challenge. Everyone was in a good mood, we danced to Latin music and simply enjoyed the beautiful sunshine that was given to us! Chichi participated in the semi-final. However afterwards she felt a little more tired and, with the noise of the delirious crowd, the poor thing was a little more distracted and she did not win any prizes, but we were very proud and caressed and congratulated her incessantly!
Kings Dominion Amusement Park
It had been over five years since I had been on a roller coaster! Our friend Cameron had generously offered us passes for the Kings Dominion amusement park, located about 1h30 from Washington. It was a day that we couldn't have afforded because the entrance to the park costs more than 50$ CAD, we were very grateful. We fell back into childhood, literally, because we also went with the little Scarlett who is two years old. Unlike La Ronde of Montréal, there was almost no waiting on the rides because the park is open year-round. Scarlett is very brave and loves thrills. We had a good laugh in the little spinning cups and the magnificent carousel. On the adult side, “the Intimidator” is so fast that I almost lost consciousness, I saw everything black for a moment. I wondered if I had become too old for this kind of ride…Cameron told us that I was not the only one. Imagine that before, it was going even faster than that. The creators had to slow it down because too many people were coming in at the end passed out!
Some bonus experiences
Walk into a Costco. Even if you are not a member, you will be amazed by the size of the food packets.
I leave you with two restaurants that I have tried (without listing the fast food chains obviously) in the United States and in the region, so you can experience the joy of eating like the Americans: with abundance and quality!
Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet, approximately $35 USD per person.
Restaurant in Washington DC's Chinatown, China Town Express, about $20 USD per person.
A big special thank you to Cameron, Elvira and Scarlett for their hospitality and generosity during our last stay in Washington DC!
Leave everything and travel, become a nomad. Many people dream of it, but many also fear doing it. Be inspired by the adventures of an independent travel filmmaker who challenged herself to make 10 travel films around the world and become a full-time nomad.
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