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#928061 by whiterose
31 Oct 2016, 22:18
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Apologies for being so tardy with this TR. I’m awed by those who produce wondrous offerings within days or even hours of returning home. I’m always submerged and drowning under the foot-deep heap of mail, umpteen voicemails, reminders that I promised to do this or that as soon as I returned (“and you’ve been back two days now”), and the mountains of unpacking and washing.

After our anniversary in Antigua, we had a wonderful few weeks with our son, DIL and their daughters in NJ, great fun as ever if somewhat exhausting, visits to and from friends and as the finale to our anniversary tour, a long weekend in Washington. I give a few details about that at the end of this TR if anyone is interested.

Uber booked to take us to JFK for the rather odd sum of $80.01. Don’t you just love the 1 cent? He chose the northern route over George Washington bridge (we’ve also done the southern route via Verrazano bridge, nothing to choose between them, central route through Times Square is obviously a non-starter). Traffic was very light because we were going against the flow in late afternoon so we made very good time until the last few miles through Jamaica which was nose to tail and stop/start.

Eventually we arrived at JFK and made our way guided by the large Delta signs and the modestly discreet Virgin ones to check-in. OH had gritted his teeth and was using his white cane. Very helpful girl at check-in noticed cane and asked if we wanted assistance from the CH to the gate, explaining that she could arrange a wheelchair. We declined, no problem walking and we knew our way, more difficult was likely to be security screening. She promptly left the desk and escorted us through fast-track to passport control, explained to the officer there who dealt with us very promptly. She took us to security, helped OH unpack technology, put shoes and jacket in trays, etc., and then took him to the screening personnel. She offered to escort us to the CH but we declined as we knew our way but we were so grateful and thanked her very much and I have since written to Crawley with lots of praise for her. I fielded all the trays and was tapped on the shoulder by one of the security guys “Ma’am, I’ve brought your husband to you”. Another victory for the hated white cane! But I do sympathise, he hates advertising his disability and it really doesn’t sit well with his view of himself as the greying, distinguished man about town!

He wasn’t impressed by the malt whisky prices in duty-free so we made our way to the CH which was packed, struggled to find a seat but eventually managed two in the corner by the window and enjoyed fizz (of course). Within half an hour, everyone had vanished, we were just about the only people there. It did gradually fill up again but not as busy. I had a wonderful facial, the short freebie Dr Hauschka one, very much recommended. We ate, I had sea bass, OH had the CH burger and we both had a wonderful Eton Mess, tiny one in a cocktail glass with really mini meringues.

I quite enjoyed JFK CH as a change from our usual EWR. OH didn’t as he found the layout more confusing, particularly the vertical poles round the bar area which can be difficult for partially sighted folk.

Off to board, welcomed warmly, drinks offered and as ever I firmly rejected ghastly Gardet and requested and received Prosecco from PE and a refill before we took off. This was delayed when the Captain announced that one passenger had not turned up so his/her luggage had to be taken off and there were five cages of luggage to search. Eventually located and we took off only a little late. As usual we went to the bar and chatted to others but as soon as our drinks were poured, the seatbelt lights went on because of turbulence and they stayed on for most of the flight. We both tried to sleep but the movement made that difficult. Declined breakfast, just had juice and tea as we were going to Revivals.

Very smooth arrival at LHR, no stacking, just straight in and we were quickly off the plane and making our best speed to arrivals. To our astonishment the arrivals hall/passport control was utterly empty, never seen that before. The only people ahead of us were one or two who had made better speeds than us so we were through within minutes, collected our luggage and spent a little time in Revivals for shower and breakfast before being collected by their local airport run guy and driven to eldest son and DIL’s for an overnight stay before driving home to Yorkshire the next day.

***

We had never been to Washington before, son, DIL and the girls had been on several occasions but our son decided to take a couple of days leave and accompany us. We drove down, about 3.5 hours, traffic heavy only at the end of the journey on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental which we all preferred to the other possibility of the Ritz Carlton – more understated elegance, less in-your-face and OTT. Friday evening, recommended by the concierge, we dined at the Capital Grille which we all enjoyed very much, really good food, knowledgeable and friendly but professional staff. Saturday we went to Arlington, principally to the Kennedy Memorial. Lots of people there but amazingly quiet, everyone either silent or just whispering to each other. In front of the memorial stones and the eternal flame is a semi-circular low wall topped with granite on which are sentences from JFK’s most famous speeches – “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” for instance. As far as the eye can see in Arlington are masses, thousands, of white gravestones dating back to the Civil War. It’s so huge that there are little trolley buses which you hop on and off at various locations. It’s very affecting to realise the sacrifices made by so many.

Saturday and son suggested we should see some of the monuments. He said it was an easy walk to the Jefferson Memorial, and then we could walk along the waterway towards the Washington monument, take a left (he’s become so American!) and see the White House and that would be about 1.2 miles. Somewhat overcast so we dressed accordingly, hoped it wouldn’t rain and set off. And saw Jefferson. I’m not putting photos up, the structures are too large and need aerial footage which you can easily see online. Then says son “Oh look, there’s a sign to F D Roosevelt memorial, let’s just look”. And it was impressive, vast granite structures and lots of lovely waterfalls and I was so pleased to see an area dedicated to Eleanor Roosevelt, the first American delegate to the UN. On from there to Martin Luther King…..Korean War (very atmospheric, a very life-like patrol of soldiers including the radio operator, rifles at the ready, looking to the right or left, surrounded by low conifers simulating jungle, you really get the feeling of the menace there must have been)….Vietnam, World War II and the Washington monument which we didn’t ascend, didn’t have tickets but in any case we prefer to look at a monument (as with the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State) rather than go inside and look out. By this time OH and I were flagging, the overcast sky had cleared, sun was out and it was nearly 30C. Onward we tottered to the White House which was alas a disappointment. Think of the iconic bow-front view? Now screened off, presumably for security reasons. Masses of people queueing, lines and lines of them so you must be able to see something at some point but we didn’t bother to join the end of the queue. Half a block said indefatigable son and we’ll go to the other side of the White House. That was the longest half block in history. And when we got there, you can’t stand by the railings at that side either, huge security guys patrolling and another line of barriers to keep you away. But we did see something of it. By this time I had definitely walked as far as I needed. Gosh said son looking at his phone, 5.2 miles (so much for the 1.2 he’d promised!), I’ve done 8,000-odd steps. Maybe I said but my legs are shorter than yours (he’s 6’4”, I’m 5’4”) and I’ve done 11,000-odd steps. We retired to the Hay-Adams hotel just a few hundred yards away, very nice place, basement bar is brilliant, walls are lined with political caricatures, we spent ages working out who they were. Fabulous weekend, we really enjoyed it. What struck us very much was the stature of those statesmen commemorated on the Memorial Mall, people who wanted to serve their country. Rather a contrast to so many nowadays, in the UK as well as the US, who see a money-making opportunity.

Monday we drove back to New Jersey and Tuesday we flew home which is where this rather lengthy (sorry about that) TR started. As John Ebdon used to say many years ago on Radio 4, if you have been, thank you for listening.
#928064 by pjh
31 Oct 2016, 22:55
Glad to hear the final leg of the big tour went so well.

I'm interested to hear you comment about the FDR memorial, for we felt it was a little out of the way and forgotten which seems such a shame. He loomed large in the history books of my youth. I agree the Korean memorial was very atmospheric.
#928075 by hiljil
01 Nov 2016, 08:18
Thank you for an enjoyable and informative TR. So pleased that the visit to Washington helped to round off a special trip. A pity about the turbulence on the return flight. I always find it hits just when I have a cup of tea/coffee or other liquid in my hand .....
#928109 by jfenney
01 Nov 2016, 16:01
Great TR thank you :-D
#928237 by tomthumb
03 Nov 2016, 19:36
Yet another great TR - thanks for sharing
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