It’s been a busy last few days for us in the USA; we finished our sightseeing in Washington, travelled more than 1,000 miles across the country and started exploring Miami in the sunshine. I’ll try to explain all (briefly) from the top…
Before leaving Washington DC we took another visit to the National Mall, where all the Smithsonian museums, which are free, are situated. After getting through the airport-like security, we finished off our visit to the Holocaust museum (which apparently helped design the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London). Even though it was still packed with school kids, it was very moving and helped explain how it all happened from Hitler’s rise to power to the liberation of the death camps. When one of the very friendly staff found out we were from the UK, he explained to us that his own parents had escaped to England during the War – which added an extra element of reality to our visit.
We then moved on to the National Air and Space Museum – an interesting place and full of interactive exhibits to teach children about physics in exciting ways – they’re fun for grown-ups too!
We were a little disappointed to find that, although the museum was free, a lot of the most interesting/exciting exhibitions charged $5 per person to enter. At least the real Wright brothers’ aeroplane – the first in the world – was free to see.
We finished off our trip to the capital with a visit to the Capitol – the meeting place of US congress – and queued for 40 minutes to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the National Archives. It was worth seeing the historic documents after hearing so much about them on our visit to Philadelphia, but the ink had become so faint it was hard to make out any of the words. Interestingly, a copy of the Magna Carta they had (which is nearly 500 years older) was as clear as day!
In the morning we were up bright and early to start a 26-hour coach trip that would take us more than 1,000 miles across the USA to Miami, Florida. Although it was relatively hassle-free (we got comfy reclining seats and wifi!), getting woken up every four hours so that the coach could be ‘cleaned’ for 40 minutes got a bit annoying after the first few times.
Eventually, we arrived in Miami to blue skies and temperatures in the high-20s, which was a relief after a full day of dark and stuffy conditions on the coach. When we managed to find our hostel on Miami Beach, we took full advantage of the free cheeseburgers for dinner, had a quick walk around the neighbourhood and then settled down for an early night in a real bed…
For our first day in Miami, we grabbed our beach towels and headed off to South Beach for our first real taste of the Sunshine State. The surf was too rough to have a swim, but in hindsight that was a good thing because – on arriving back to the hostel – we heard that 14ft Great White Shark ‘Katharine’ was visiting the coastline too…
To our amazement, we managed to keep sunburn to a minimum that first day, so for our second day we walked along the beach boardwalk and visited the famous Ocean Drive, which is full of lively bars and clubs.
Before we leave we’re hoping to take a tour of the Everglades and maybe see some alligators!