Friday, May 25, 2012

4:45

Yes, at 4:45 AM the alarms on our iPhones went off. We had a train to catch.

I love train rides. Great childhood memories come flooding back too. It was a lovely crisp morning. Actually, the weather was perfect the whole day.

The Richmond Staples Mill Station is just 3 miles down the road from us. Perfect. The train was waiting.

We were going only about 2 hours, but see where you could go from here.

I am sure you wonder about this photo. This is to remember how nice it is to sit comfortably and watch the beautiful world go by. The sun was coming up. The golden rays between the trees were lovely. 
From Union Station we took the Metro to Foggy Bottom changing once and then walked to the German Embassy.
We finally solved a problem which started a year and a half ago. Here you can see me with my new passport (and the old one for memory keeping). It is funny though that my brand-new passport is actually already 18 months old. They put the date in when I actually had applied for it. Oh well ...


By 10 am we had done what we had come for and could do whatever until the return train would leave close to 6 pm. We took the Metro to Smithsonian Station and popped up at the Mall.
We decided to start with the Museum of Natural History. 
Wow, there was a lot to see. Why I took this picture of the snake skeleton ... I have no idea. Somehow it fascinated me.
So much to see. So much diversity. From the skeletons of many different animals, a whole department about dinosaurs, explanation of the evolution of man and more trivial things like the 45.52 carats Hope Diamond.
Besides, we popped into the cafe there for a little snack.

 After that we walked into the Sculpture Garden "next door". This is a huge stainless steel tree called "Graft" (2008-9) by Roxy Paine.

There was a cafe too and we could sit outside with our salad lunches. Just excellent.
More Sculpture Garden. This is the fountain in the middle.

This is "Thinker on a Rock" (1997) by Barry Flanagan. All the outdoor sculptures were huge. We were not impressed with any of the others. They looked too much like scrap metal heaps.
James was not sure about it.
Right next to it the National Gallery of Arts. Wow. Many famous pieces to see. Here: another "Thinker". This one from Rodin.
At the information desk we received a sheet "West Building Sculpture Highlights" which made our visit more enjoyable because it pointed out some really special pieces and had nice explanations. I have no idea why I decided to take a picture of this Degas study and not of the others. I was just in awe and forgot.
Then we followed the sheet of the West Building Highlights of the paintings. I loved the Vermeer paintings the best, but so much to see by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, van Gogh, etc etc. Some I liked and some I wondered why in the world it was famous. This Monet on the left (Madame Monet and her son 1875) just fascinated me.

And the building itself was interesting. This fountain in front of the cafeteria window is called "Cascade" and very appropriately so. The photo doesn't do it justice. We passed the cafeteria this time but not the gift shop. Saw something William will enjoy in a couple of years. Seems silly to buy it now but I was sure we would not find it later when we wanted it.

And then we made our way back towards Union Station. We had some more time before our train left and stopped at an Irish Pub for refreshments. Sitting outside in a lovely warm breeze with city life buzzing by very much reminded me of Singapore.

The train back was not only on time but even arrived a little early.

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