A couple of Twitter friends from here in Canberra asked me for my thoughts on Washington DC. To be honest, I only spent a few days there and most of that time was in a building for meetings. Whenever I got an opportunity though I walked around. A number of friends warned me about walking around the place given there is a high crime rate in certain parts of the city. I avoided anywhere I thought looked dangerous.
I was staying in a hotel on 16th Street NW in a safe part of town and my walking was mainly around there. Check out a couple of runkeeper.com recordings.
The last record was the most extensive.
I walked past many beautiful buildings and well known institutions like the Smithsonian institutions, the Capitol Building and the White House. The Washington Monument cannot be missed on the skyline.
I was really impressed at how well planned and developed the city is. The buildings are amazing and it really feels like you’re in the capital city of a great nation. Like all major cities there is a homelessness problem and I came across many homeless men in bus shelters and there also a significant occupy movement presence, especially in the Freedom Plaza. One thing I did notice was the smell of the streets. It wasn’t just the waste product of homeless men, it was coming out of the storm water drains I think. It wasn’t foul, but it wasn’t pleasant.
The weather is similar to Canberra, although I expect in most years it would get considerably colder. Snow is a problem and while I was there there was the threat of snow, so much so, the snow ploughs were out spreading salt on the roads. On the last walk I did it was around 0 °C and I really felt it. I’ve walked around Lake Ginninderra on mornings when it was –5 °C and didn’t feel as cold as what I felt the other morning in Washington DC.
I interacted with lots of people and aside from the language problem, everyone was friendly and helpful. I spoke with a colleague who is posted in Washington and he’s really enjoying his posting and living in Washington. I noticed a Starbucks on nearly every corner, virtually no McDonalds outlets and a seemingly small number of cigarette smokers.
I think from a professional perspective I’d happily take a posting there, although that will never happen. Personally I’d like to return on a holiday and see everything properly and spend some proper time enjoying the museums, institutes and monuments. I’d really like more time to explore the place.
- My early morning walk around the museums of Washington DC (garydavidlum.com)
- Washington DC is a beautiful city (garydavidlum.com)