Joining a tour group to Philadelphia + Washington DC

American Flags! EVERYWHERE!

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And so it begins! The moment we stepped on that bus in the morning was the moment I could finally breathe. We’d made it onto the tour and I could now relax, enjoy and let the tour guide take us where we needed to go for the next 5 days. I actually enjoyed our time on the long bus rides as it was a completely unfamiliar landscape I had not witnessed and I could just sit and stare out the window and watch the world pass me by. Erica and I had some great conversations on these bus rides with topics ranging from things as light as television shows to deep talks about our lives and the future. We talked about how strange it was that we were here together and who would’ve known this would happen when we had met 7 years prior in a dance class. We were two best friends currently on the other side of the world from home on a great big adventure that we remember for the rest of our lives. We’d had these conversations before where we’d get quite deep and meaningful, they’re actually some of my favourite kinds of conversations because you can really open up and just… be. It was nice.

So off we went. Our first stop was the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  We drove right into the city and disembarked at the Independence Hall. We were given a short tour of the surrounding area and got explained to us what everything was, then were free to roam for about an hour. We learned that the independence hall featured in National Treasure (I secretly LOVE these movies) so of course we had to get photos in front of that. We also saw the Liberty Bell but it was hard to get a good picture. as it was behind glass and at a slightly weird angle. We had lunch inside a food court nearby which was essentially a tourist trap as I imagine tours like ours come through there by the busload literally every single day of the year. I had lots of fresh fruit to eat as it was just so hot and humid I couldn’t bare to have anything more filling! I was also suffering a bit of jet lag by this stage so wasn’t feeling like I could stomach much. I thought it was so cute that the surrounding streets were named things like Chestnut Street and Walnut Street, for some reason it seemed so… American.

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Then it was down to Washington DC for a dose of pure American history! I was SO excited to visit here and couldn’t wait to visit the Lincoln Memorial! We started off with the Smithsonian, something I was also eager to visit as I’d heard so much about it. We went to the Air and Space part which was awesome and I even touched some moon rock! Apparently it’s good luck!

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We then went outside to the national mall and took some photos facing either end. I kind of wanted to walk along it a bit but wow it was just so hot I actually struggled to be outside.

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Then it was a short bus ride up to the little pond in front of the United States Capitol which we did manage to walk around and a quick stop at the White House. We were really far away from the White House so didn’t actually manage to see a whole lot which was quite gutting.

From there it was off to the Lincoln Memorial! We arrived and got off the bus and I was just awestruck by the size of this thing. When you see it in photos and movies you have a certain idea of how it looks but to be there in person is just incredible. We walked up the steps and I happened to look down at my feet and I found a plaque dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. I was standing in the exact spot he gave his speech all those years ago. Having studied the Black Civil Rights movement at High School I was well aware of this speech and the effect it had on history. All of a sudden it all became a bit much and I actually started to cry. I was standing there in the middle of this giant monument just having a wee cry because I just couldn’t believe where I was. This was the first time I had ever been in a spot where so much had happened. I looked around me to see the bus loads of people wandering around, all from different corners of the globe, standing there with me, free. That was all because of the man that stood in the exact spot I was standing and what he chose to say to the world. Absolutely unreal.

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We then walked along the reflection pool to the Korean War Memorial as I’d heard that the sculptures were quite amazing. We also managed to find the “New Zealand” engraving along the list of countries that fought.

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It was here, whilst taking a rest on a bench that I happened upon my first squirrel! What a cutie!

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Following this we hopped on a river cruise where we were able to see everything we’d just seen but from a boat. We also managed to spot the Pentagon! After this we were SO exhausted and hot that we were glad to hop on the bus and get driven to the hotel. We needed our sleep because we had a big day ahead of us…

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