A Travellerspoint blog

August 2016

Day 17

Washington DC

We set out just after 8.30 this morning with the plan to do a Whitehouse tour. We had seen conflicting information about if we could or could not walk up and do a tour so we decided to go and see for ourselves. So we walked to a nearby stop on the hop on hop off route. We waited around 45 minutes for the bus to turn up. We were told the tours start at 8.30 but alas it was 9. We had two stops on the circuit to get to the Whitehouse. The conductor told us with certainty we could not get in and tour bookings need to be made 3 months ahead. So we changed our plans and took their "Yellow" tour to Georgetown, a historical shopping district on the fringe of the CBD. It was nice enough but didn't compare to old Montreal or Quebec City. If you have been to those places don't other with Georgetown.

We caught the next bus back to town and after a light lunch at the Willard hotel near the Whitehouse we went to the Whitehouse visitors centre. This I recommend. They have a large building full of Whitehouse artifacts and information. We watched a short video which consisted of interviews from former presidents, partners and their children talking about their experiences living there. I learned that there were 2 bowling lanes installed in the basement in the 1940s that were removed about 10 years later when a different President wanted the space for something else, and that Richard Nixon had one new lane installed during his term. I assume it is still there.

After we left Lance & I walked out into the adjacent park for our obligatory photo of the Whitehouse. We then caught the bus back to Union Station and bought some dinner to take with us and eat on the night bus tour. It was an escorted tour rather than a hop on hop off. It was good and our guide, Malaya, was excellent. It was still warm but much more pleasant with a cooler breeze and temperatures in the mid 20s. They dropped us off on the way back about 5 blocks from our apartment. This gave us a shorter walk back to our apartments.

A few final comments about the hop on hop off buses. The staff have been really good. The buses all open top double deckers. The trees and bridges low enough to worry about. Both of us were hit by small low hanging branches. They were small and didn't do damage but it was disconcerting.

Washington DC is a very green city. Lots of trees and open spaces. Very hot this time of year but very cold with snow and ice in the winter.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 06:08 Comments (0)

Day 16

29 August - Washington DC

We took our time this morning, eating our breakfast in our one bedroom apartment. We headed out just before 11 and walked in the heat (forecast 34 Celsius today) to Union Station. We purchased 2 day tickets to one of the hop on hop off bus and set off. We completed a full loop upstairs taking in the commentary whilst sitting upstairs in the hot sun snapping lots of photos as we passed landmarks. After completing a loop we hopped off and had a really good lunch in a cafe at the station.

Darlene and Karol remained behind and did some shopping at the adjacent shopping mall while Lance and I boarded a bus and hopped off at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. It is one of 19 Smithsonian establishments in and around Washington DC. I really enjoyed the NASA Space program section covering the moon missions and exploration of our solar system. They had Mercury, Gemini & Apollo space craft, a lunar lander, a lunar rover like the ones they drove on the moon. Lots of amazing photos, exhibits and so much more. They had a history of aviation with replica planes from the early 1900s on including the front of a 747 plane.

We left shortly before 4pm to rendezvous with the girls outside the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as we had arranged. Unfortunately we sat out in the heat for the next 45 minutes waiting for them. We went inside and Darlene and I had a bit of a look around. We saw maybe a third of the exhibits before it was time to catch the last bus back to the station.

We walked back to our apartment and I had a quick swim in the rooftop pool while Darlene had a cool shower. We returned to the bar downstairs for tea. They make the best burgers. Even Darlene had one and enjoyed it.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 04:29 Comments (0)

Day 15

August 28 - Niagara to Washington DC




We packed up and checked out of our hotel early at Niagara on the Lake. We drove the short distance to the 405 and onto the bridge to the USA. Being as early as we were there was no wait. We drove straight up to the booth. We got a nice person who quickly asked the right questions and sent us on our way.

Once over the border our next priorities were breakfast and petrol. We accidentally took a wrong turn past Buffalo so we found a diner for breakfast and they directed us to a service station. It was closed but Lance saw the sign for another at the next intersection and we were all set. Back on the freeway and on the right road we steadily made our way south. Along the way we drove state route 66. Not the famous route 66, but still photo worthy. Our lunch stop was at Punxutawney. You may remember it as the setting for the movie Groundhog Day.

We found a restaurant and they had "hoagies" on the menu. I didn't know what a hoagie was so I asked. It turned out to be a long bread roll with a variety of fillings. I had one. All our meals were served with a side of potato crisps, must be a local thing. The waitress asked where we were from and then what we were doing in Punxutawney. I honestly replied we were passing through. She told us about the park up the street with the library and the window where we could see Phil & Phyllis - the groundhogs. Of course I had to go and see them. The burrow was much darker than the natural light outside so it was hard to get a photo. You can just make him (?) out.

After lunch we resumed our long drive arriving in Washington DC after 5pm. I arrived at what I believed was the location of our apartment but the building was not there. After two phone calls we worked out we were at 300 Massachusetts Ave NE and we should have been at 300 Massachusetts Ave NW. Union Station is in the middle of Massachusetts Ave and the numbers start from 1 in both directions from there. Bloody confusing. The guy on the phone took pity on us and offered to come and find us so we could follow him to where we wanted to be. In the interim a Police car drove by and asked what I was doing standing on the corner there. I honestly replied I was lost and waiting for a person to come to me and guide me to our apartment. They pointed out the direction we needed to travel in and moved on but we decided to wait four our guide.

Our guy turned up shortly after and was very helpful. He got a good tip. The apartment is spacious but the standard of cleaning didn't meet Darlene's approval. We wen't downstairs to a bar and had a late bite to eat and called it a night.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 05:10 Comments (0)

Day 14

August 27 - Toronto to Niagara (and back, and back)

It's Saturday in Toronto and the cafe we used for the past two mornings is closed. We found a Tim Horton's on the way back to the Hotel. Good enough. After checking out we hit the road around 9.45 and made it most of the way to Niagara Falls before we realised we left our passports and US currency in the safe back in Toronto. D'oh!

We continued on and dropped Lance & Karol at the Falls so they could do their sightseeing. We then returned to Toronto to collect the things we left behind. In all the travelling we have done we have never done that before. We left Niagara to return to Toronto around 11.30 am and returned to Niagara around 5pm. We wasted virtually a whole day. The weather was very warm around 30 Celsius. On the way back we took a detour via Hamliton to try and avoid the heavy traffic on the QEW. That meant we had to cross the Wellard Canal - a waterway that includes a series of locks that allows ships to go around and upstream of the falls into Lake Erie and beyond. As luck would have it we had to wait for a ship to pass through (they raise the bridge to provide the ship clearance).

After collecting Lance & Karol we drove to our stop for the night at Niagara on the Lake. It is about 30 minutes drive downstream of the Falls where the Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario. It's a favourite spot of ours from when we lived in Mississauga. We did some shopping in the Christmas store there and later ate our evening meal at the Angel Inn, one of the oldest pubs in North America.

We had a lovely Spanish red wine in our room. We had a glass before dinner and finished it after tea. I'm posting a picture on the blog so I can look for it when we get home. Not a lot of photos today as most of the day was spent in the car.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 18:29 Comments (0)

Day 13

August 26 - Toronto

Sorry, was slack, no pictures today. Should have photographed our old town house.

The bad weather cleared overnight and after a minimum of 20 degrees it warmed up quickly to around 30 degrees. We returned to the same cafe for breakfast. After breakfast we drove to our old home away from home - Mississauga. Our first stop was Square One shopping mall. We had some lunch there in the food court.

After lunch we drove out to and past the townhouse we used to live in here 20 years ago. Then we returned to Toronto with the intention of doing a harbour cruise (that was included in hop on hop off ticket price). We arrived at a nearby bus stop only to learn that the next harbour cruise was 75 minutes away and that by the time that it returned the buses would no longer be running. We reluctantly skipped it and instead headed underground to the huge network of tunnels and shops in basements of CBD buildings. We covered around 4 city blocks under ground as we worked our way back to our hotel from the bus stop.

We drank some wine and played some cards in the room then headed out to a local Irish Pub for tea. We had 8 TV screens within eyesight and all were tuned to the next Blue Jays game. We left the pub about half way through the game with the Blue Jays well ahead. Hopefully they can win this one.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 17:55 Comments (0)

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