Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC.

So this past week was my spring break from school and I got to take a much needed break from teaching and get away to two of my favorite places, New York City and Washington, DC.   I spent a quick two days in NYC before meeting my family in DC.    It also happened the famed National Cherry Blossom Festival was taking place, fulfilling one of my dreams to see the blossoms (and it didn’t disappoint!).

I hadn’t been to New York City in quite a few years, but I highly recommend the Broadway Hotel at Times Square.   I was able to find a really great rate and it was so centrally located.  I was able to see the new Freedom Tower and the 9-11 memorial fountains and museum.  I had decided to take the hop-on, hop-off because I normally like those type of things, but honestly, in NYC, the traffic is so bad that it takes so long to get around that I wouldn’t bother with it.  It also stops running fairly early in the day.  If you are planning on going out to the Statue of Liberty and/or Ellis Island it might still be worth it, as it comes with the Circle Line Cruise boat to take you there, but otherwise, it can be a waste of time.

 

9-11 Memorial Fountain

The 9-11 memorial fountains are an amazing, quite somber site to see.  There are two, in the exact same spot where the two twin towers stood that terrible morning in 2001.  What I love about the names of the victims that surround the fountain is that they aren’t alphabetical, but instead they kept co-workers and friends grouped together, immortalized in death how they lived and loved in life.   I think it is very appropriate.   For example, the names of firefighters that worked together in the same engine company are together, the names of those from Cantor-Fitzgerald (648 in total) are all together.  I found an article about the significance of the placement of the names which I highly recommend reading.    Cantor-Fitzgerald lost 2/3 of their workforce that day, as they were trapped when the plane crashed below the 101 to 105 floors where they were located.   The museum dedicated to memorializing the attacks is built up around a lot of artifacts from ground zero.  As you go in you don’t see much, but then you go down and there is a timeline of events, tons of artifacts and personal testimonies.  Very moving! The mangled front of the fire truck below use to be the engine, where the driver would sit.

Firetruck from 9-11 Memorial Museum

The new Freedom Tower that has replaced the twin towers is quite impressive and earns its name!

Can you spot the gnome?!

I did some running around with my friend Jenn, who I used to teach with in Spain. Since I couldn’t get tickets to Hamilton I had to content myself with having lunch at Fraunces Tavern, a historic tavern where Washington and many other founding fathers use to frequent.   While in that area, also went by the Charging Bull statue at Wall Street.  There is a new great statue that went up there just this month, Girl in Defiance, which is fantastic.  She is facing the bull, staring it down.  Love it!  It was originally placed there in honor of International Women’s Day but the Mayor of New York has said that the statue will remain there through 2018 due to popularity.   There are tons of people now coming to see it!
    
The new Apple Store at One World Trade Center, the M&M store, and two broadway shows were also on the agenda!  I definitely recommend checking out the ticket booth in Times Square at 46th Avenue to get half-priced tickets the day of.  We ended up getting really good seats for Cats and Kinky Boots.

5th Avenue Apple Store

Heading south down to Washington, DC my parents and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the brand new Museum of African American History and Culture.   Tickets are sold out for months, so you literally have to get online at 6:30 in the morning on the day you want to go to see if you can get same day passes.  It was an incredible museum that definitely requires a second visit!  Truly overwhelming.

I was underwhelmed by the Folgers Shakespeare Museum, except they did have a very cool first folio publication of his.  If you are a fan of Shakespeare, there is a great theater there that would be cool to see a show.

One of my favorite museums in DC which we specifically made time for this visit is the Newseum.  7 floors, it has an incredible overview of the history of media and free speech.  It was originally built up around a piece of the Berlin Wall.   There is also a great observatory from the top floor.  Every morning there are newspaper front pages from every state placed in the glass outside the museum, as well as front pages from around the world on the top floor.  There is a section on music media.  Everything you could possibly want!

Berlin Wall
Radio Tower from atop the twin towers in NYC
Greensboro Lunch Counter
Pennsylvania Avenue atop the Newseum

It so happened that while we were in DC my great-aunt Florence was buried in Arlington Cemetery. She had passed in February at the age of 92 but Arlington doesn’t bury people in the dead of winter.  Her husband had been military so she got to be buried next to her husband.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to witness a funeral at Arlington it is an extremely interesting experience to watch the soldiers.

One of the final highlights was getting to see the cherry blossoms!  In 1912 Japan gifted the city of Washington, DC with some 3,000 cherry blossom trees.  They don’t actually produce cherries but when they bloom they are the most spectacular things and it has turned into one of the largest spring time festivals in the nation.  It can be tricky with weather predicting when is the best day to see the trees.  The Cherry Blossom watch is a great place to keep up to date on the best times and places to see them.  When we first arrived on Wednesday we began to be concerned that the snow the week before had destroyed a large number of blossoms.  By Saturday the weather had warmed up to a high of 77, an absolutely gorgeous day, so there were tons of people that came out.  The blossoms just exploded with the warm weather!   Couldn’t have asked for better. So many great pictures so I will try to keep it to a few.

Have any adventures in NYC or pictures with the cherry blossoms in DC to share?  Let the gnome know!

Buen viajes, gnomies!

Colleen


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