The Big Apple may be the most vibrant city in the US – the city that never sleeps, the city where “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” – but, personally, I think Washington is a more beautiful city. Not only do you have, naturally enough, the White House (home to the most powerful leader in the world and, no, I don’t mean Vladimir Putin!) but you also have such monuments as the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial and The Washington Monument. So choose the best Washington D.C. car rental and let’s start our tour of this great capital.
I well remember my first trip to the east coast. I saw the Statue of Liberty and got all gooey about that. But it’s nothing compared to the White House and the other historic buildings of Washington, not to mention the magnificence of The National Air and Space Museum which took me a whole day to tour.
I visited Washington in 1987 when Ronald Reagan was besieged by the Iran Contra affair. Somehow seeing the White House in the flesh is different from seeing it on TV. Those grand speeches over the years suddenly echo in your mind. LBJ in 1968: “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” Or Richard Nixon’s farewell speech to the White House press corps in 1974. “Only when you have been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. Always remember: Others may hate you. Those who hate you do not win unless you hate them. Then, you destroy yourself.”
Perhaps the most awe inspiring monument is the Lincoln Memorial. Unlike The White House, you can get up close and personal. The building contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln – The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. In fact, the memorial has been the site of many iconic addresses, most notably Martin Luther King‘s “I Have a Dream” speech of August 28, 1963. A visit here on the 50th anniversary of the speech would be really appropriate.
The most poignant monument, however, one that really stops you in your tracks, is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Located to the north of the Lincoln Memorial, it is free to visit and open 24 hours a day. The memorial includes the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died in the Vietnam Conflict, the event that divided America like no other and one that is carved forever on the country’ national consciousness. The memorial also includes “The Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Another place to pay your respects to the fallen is the Arlington National Cemetery, visited by more than four million people each year. Special graveside services and ceremonies commemorate veterans and historical figures. Among the famous people buried here are war heroes Lee Marvin (1924-1987) and Audie Murphy (1924-1971).
Washington is a beautiful city to look at any time of the year. In the spring it looks picture-postcard perfect thanks to the magnificent cherry blossom trees. Once the intense heat of the summer has evaporated, it’s a great time to explore. You can take a nice ride around Georgetown, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and one that served as a major port and commercial center during colonial times. Now it’s a vibrant community teeming with upscale shops, bars and restaurants.
If you’re a film fan, then this year’s AFI Latin America film festival, between September 19 and October 9 and just a short drive from downtown Washington, is for you. Highlights this year include: Viola, an Argentine spin on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; The Future (Il futuro), Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson’s adaptation of a novel by celebrated author Roberto Bolaño, set in Rome and starring blast from the past Dutch screen star Rutger Hauer. Remember him as the creepy psycho from The Hitcher? Then there’s The Dead Man and Being Happy (El Muerto y Ser Feliz), a road movie across the Argentine countryside.
You can see the whole program here.
Any visit to Washington will provide you with some unforgettable memories. Just remember to use the best Washington car rental firm.