Friday, September 21, 2007

September 19. We went and did a little more sight seeing today here in Washington, DC.

There’s just so much to see that you could easily spend a month here in town and have something different to do every day. We started off with a visit to the National Aquarium. The aquarium is actually a couple of hallways with oversized aquariums built into the wall. I guess we’re a little bit jaded by the quality and quantity of outstanding aquariums we’ve been fortunate to already see. Since it was the National Aquarium I was just expecting a lot more than I got so it was a little disappointing.

Next up was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The building itself is worth the trip. Marble and stonework everywhere. The stone treads on the steps are actually worn to the point that you can see where a million people before you placed their feet as they climbed the steps. It’s just an incredible place. The displays covered all of the wildlife that you could imagine. The Hall of Dinosaurs was a great display and the gemstone and minerals on display were fantastic. Also on display at this time in the museum were some of the most famous gemstones in the world including the Hope Diamond.

The Hope Diamond wasn’t as spectacular as I expected it to be. It was huge and a deep shade of blue. I thought the blue color muted the brilliance you usually expect to see in a diamond. It just wasn’t anything special. Some of the other stones, particularly the emeralds from India were so big and set in such garish settings that they looked ridiculous.

There were some beautiful examples of gems though, especially some formerly owned by Napoleon.

Next we were off to the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art. Wow, what a place. Once again the building tried to steal the show as it was just beautiful. Inside, was room after room of sculptures and paintings. We walked in just in time for a free guided tour that covered the evolution of painting through the Italian Renascence.

It was very interesting to go through the galleries with a knowledgeable guide who obviously loved the art on display. We learned about the transition from stacked painting to point of reference painting. It was interesting to see how art evolved over the course of a few hundred years. I learned more useful things about art in forty five minutes than I would have thought possible. If ever offered the opportunity to take a guided tour of one of these galleries it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Those 3 stops quickly ate up the entire day. A quick word about the bicycles. Yesterday we probably covered 15 miles and today there were another 6 or more. Without the bikes there would be no doing what we’ve already accomplished. I look at the faces of the thousands of tourists as they walk along the sidewalks as we ride past. Most of these people probably haven’t walked this much in years and nobody is enjoying the walking. You can see every place you want to go but the size of everything gives a false sense of how far things really are from one another. Washington is gorgeous but there is an incredible amount of walking to do. So wear comfy shoes or bring a bike,

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