Sorry to dump so many days at one time. I'm not sure why our last few postings haven't appeared.
7th & 8th October
After a quiet night in Harrisburg we headed for Gettysburg and our American History lesson. We started with a walking tour which gave us an insight into the workings of the very famous Battle of Gettysburg. We also visited a private museum which covered the civil war through to now. By now the weather turned damp and chilly (Only 50F) so we headed to a Diner for coffee and cake - we needed warming up!!!! G tried the famous Pumpkin Pie which is only made in fall (Very nice lots of spices and the texture of a baked cheese cake). A bit too much for R he ordered the apple pie.
Just in case we didn't have enough history yesterday, we tackled the guided bus tour through the battlefields. R Was desperate to do this tour by segway, (for those who aren't sure what a segway is it's a two wheel contraption for those who are not quite ready for their motorised gopher) thankfully for G the weather had not improved and the bus looked more comfortable. The amazing thing about this area is the way it has been preserved with local houses placed alongside monuments, a great tour which included a film and entry into a museum. We didn't end up leaving Gettysburg until late that afternoon so decided to spend the night in York before heading into Philadelphia. It is still freezing only 48F at least it has stopped drizzling, weather meant to improve, let's hope so!!!!
9th & 10th October
Philadelphia famous for being the Original Capital of the country, Independence Hall, Liberty bell, Sesame street (this is for Lily) and the famous steps in the Rocky Movie. An interesting city with lots of historic buildings and a nice feel, still not as good as Boston. We spent the first day touring the historic sights and learning more about American
history, also visited the famous Liberty Bell ironically made in Britain!!!!! America and Britain didn't have lot of love for one another in those days.
The next morning we set off early to explore the city sights, but first thing on the agenda was breakfast. We found a small cafe around the corner from the hotel and there it was !!!! .............The best coffee I've had in FOUR WEEKS and after covering 4500 MILES it was around the corner! We enjoyed breakfast walked a bit more then stumbled onto Rittenhouse Square gardens. A relatively small park where the locals play with their dogs and just sit to ponder life. Most of the seats throughout these gardens have been donated by families in memory of their loved ones who did just that regularly throughout their lives. It had the most peaceful feel and what a great way to remember your loved one. (I hope Sam & Kelly remember this ???).
Philadelphia has a noticeably large Afro- American population which is maybe why the shops down the famous South Street (similar to Brunswick Street) had a large range of bling in the shop windows. We voted the huge diamond clustered K on a long gold chain the most attractive???..... a lot of the pendants had rings to match as well !! We were expecting a big black Lincoln to pull up where a fur cladded dude jumps out. After meandering around the city for over 7 hours and a bit more shopping (not all G's) we headed back to our apartment for an early dinner and rest.
Started the day with another coffee and then a quick shop (R got a good bargain yesterday he was desperate to repeat). After another pair of Boss jeans we drove to the Philadelphia Museum of Arts, no, not to experience the culture but to run (perhaps walk) up the steps which appeared in the famous Rocky movie. We had a bit of fun, enjoyed the view back over the city and then headed towards Baltimore.
We drove through Wilmington Delaware, made famous by the DuPont Family, this city looked very depressing so decided to move on to the very pretty historical town of New Castle on the Delaware river. This town was originally founded by the Dutch in the early 1600s with a lot of the old houses still occupied. Some of the streets are still paved with the old cobblestones, the funny thing is if you stuck to the freeway you would miss this little gem. R stumbled upon it whilst reading a forum on Trip Advisor!!!!!. No hotels in New Castle so we decided to move on and spend the night at Newark.
As it turns out Wilmington also had a hidden gem......The Brandy Wine region. It appears we entered Wilmington on the wrong side of town. How easily you can miss a treasure if your research is not up to date. One of the USA TOP 10 scenic drives starts from Wilmington and winds its way through the Brandy Wine River Valley. The area was made famous because the river falls reasonably quick over a short distance so they were able to drive a number of industries from the power generated from the water flow. We decided to follow the track a few miles and then spent the rest of the day visiting the original site of the DuPont Gun Powder factory. The day was sunny, the site was picturesque and the working displays were really informative. R had a great time going through the Workshop and learning how the gun powder was made. I was surprised that DuPont, after all this time of being in Business (they supplied gun powder during the Civil War), still use their original Logo.
After a great day we headed an hour or so down the road to Baltimore for the night.
Baltimore is not an overly large city which can be easily navigated by foot so we decided to spend the morning walking the streets, literally!!!! It just happened to be the day of the Baltimore Marathon and a lot of the city had been blocked off for the runners or walkers. The variety of entrants was diverse with all shapes and sizes and levels of fitness, the highest entrants number we saw was 51,843. Not a bad effort considering the full marathon was 42km with runners being able to opt for the half marathon.
Baltimore is the home of George Washington who is buried there and not at Capital Hill,Washington DC in the crib that was originally built for him. The life of Baltimore is positioned by the waterside with apartment and dining areas being developed similar to Melbourne's Docklands. After wandering around we stumbled across a market place that is mainly frequented by Afro- Americans. I think that we were the only white people around, it least it felt that way! We could have sat there and people watched ALL day. We walked the food stall aisles and it was like strolling through a market place in Bangkok! After finding out what Hog Maws (pigs stomachs) and Chitterlings (chicken stomachs) were we headed to Washington (the land of the wailing sirens!!) that afternoon slowly via the traffic jammed freeway.
14 th October
Congratulations Dan on completing your very first Marathon (42kms in a very respectable time!!!!!). Sorry we weren't at the finish line with the rest of the family.
We are now staying in the U District. An area known as the soul centre of Washington. The area that the likes of Duke Ellington and Sarah Vaughn lived. We are experiencing life as a local as our apartment is in a lovely apartment block on T street between 14th & 15th Streets. While the apartment is on the small side, (we actually need to go outside to change our minds!) it is well appointed and in a great area. We have even discovered a supermarket called Whole Foods market that gives La Mannas a run for its money (I know thats a big statement!)
With the weather being so good 20 degrees and sunny we decided to walk the famous mall between Capital Hill and the Lincoln Memorial. A good walk which took, us most of the day. We spent the last few hours visiting the Amerian History Musuem (another Musuem, this place is full of them!!!!!) and then headed home so we could get ready to visit some more museums tomorrow!
15 th October
Up early and headed off to Capital Hill (parliament house). An interesting and historic building to go through but the security screening processes were actually longer then the tour (nearly)!
After the tour we walked around for the obligatory photos and then headed over to the National flight and aeronautical Musuem for the remainder of the day. We viewed some interesting exhibits including the Apollo 11 module, various launch rockets and planes and a replica of the Wright bros. original plane. We then left and headed back to U street for a lovely dinner (finally not the usual fare)
16 th October.
Had a lazy day today which started with a sleep in.
We left home around 11 and made our way to the White House. Somehow they weren't expecting us, so we just had to wander the boundary taking all of our photo's. We made our way to the front to take some more photos when a couple of ladies were quickly shuffled into the secret service cars that were waiting and in true Hollywood style the seven or eight cars sped off past us. A couple of the cars even had their windows down with the secret service guys with their machine guns at the ready .......quite impressive !
After leaving the White House and all the excitement we walked to Georgetown.
Georgetown is the historic part of Washington where a lot of famous people lived. Amongst other important things, It's where JFK purchased a house for Jackie after the birth of their first child, it's where Liz Taylor and the author of Little Women whose name I can't remember lived. The steps that appeared in the last scene of the excorsist movie are also located here, not to mentionn the historic Georgetown University.
The area is also a big shopping area for Washington and believe it or not we only went into a few of them. More importantly we didn't buy anything!!!!
We walked home from Georgetown through DuPont circle and past our favorite supermarket where we purchased a two inch thick New York rib- eye that we BBQ'd for dinner. Our first home cooked meal since we have been away, it was delicious. We deserved it after all the walking we did!!!!!!