Think of how long ago we split off from bananas!

This morning we began our tour of the Smithsonian Museums. The Smithsonian Institute was founded in 1846 for the “increase and fusion of knowledge.” Today it is a group of free museums funded by the US government. In Washington, DC you will find the largest complex of museums and research institutes in the world.

Today we explored the National Air and Space Museum. This museum houses the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. This museum is massive. In our short 4.5 hour whirwind through we did not have time to read and see everything we’d have liked. Kris spent 12 hours here when she visited last summer and Justine can easily see how. She can’t wait to return.
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Highlights included:
– Touching a moon rock…like an actual piece of the moon!
– Wearing a real astronaut glove (that was once on the hand of an astronaut in space) and trying to pick up a coin. As difficult as it was, we’re told the glove inflates in space to make all tasks even more difficult.
– Seeing the Wright Brothers first plane from 1903…Justine decided she would not trust flying in it.
– Seeing the command modules from the Apollo missions and parts & replicas of various other spacecraft.
– So Many Planes!
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It was raining when we left and made our way to The Castle or the Smithsonian Institute information building. Here we saw the tomb of James Smithson. James Smithson is the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institute even though he never visited the US. In the castle we stopped at the cafe for a quick lunch. We shared a chicken ceasar salad and pulled pork sandwich.
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Next we were off the the National Natural History Museum. Kris didn’t have time to walk these halls when she previously visited so it was completely new. This museum is the most visited natural history museum in the world and the most visited museum of any type in North America. Upon entering you were greeted by a massive elephant in the atrium. Cue Kris’ elephant impersonation. The museum had some great exhibits and one day we will spend more time reading about them all.
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Highlights included:
– The Hope Diamond: The most famous diamond in the world. The Hope Diamond has passed through history often resulting in death and
turmoil. It is famously believed to be cursed and interesting looks similar to The Heart of the Ocean in Titanic. It is believed they used the Hope Diamond as inspiration for the necklace in the movie.
– The Hall of Bones: This room housed skeletons of the different forms of life on the planet. It was amazing to see how intricate the skeletons are, especially for the tiny crestures. The large mammals were also impressive to see for their massive size. Also, turtles have very few bones inside theirvshells…its weird.
– Ocean Hall: Here you could find almost anything you wanted to know about the ocean. Justine loved it and wished she could have read everything; she passed a lot of information onto Kris. A highlight here was the giant squid. Gross.
– The Hall of Human Origins: The room showed the evolution of humans from our ape-like ancestors to our current form. There was a wide
assortment of skulls showing the evolutionary steps. We alao neanderthaled ourslves and made friends with an informative volunteer.
– Walking among Dinosaurs: Here we were in a room and got to walk with dinosaurs. Seriously, check out the photo.
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We left the museum and headed towards Georgetown. Georgetown predates Washington DC and became part of the city as DC grew & expanded. It is here you’ll find Georgetown University and the surrounding area remains the hip & trendy area of the city…where everyone uses words way cooler than hip…

This morning Justine spotted an add for a seafood restaurant in one of her brochures (which she loves to collect) and upon learning the restaurant was closed Kris could not shake the idea of seafood from her mind. Luckily we stumbled upon the perfect place in Georgetown. Pier 2934 was similar to The Crab Pot which Justine had visited in Seattle. We settled on the Chef’s Special. This included mussels, shrimp, crawfish and crab mixed with some corn, potatoes, and sausage. On top of it we also received fries & calamari. It all came in a large pan for us to devour, and we did. The waiters tied classy lobster bibs around our necks and gave us everything we needed to enjoy. We preceded to chow down and gobble up a meal that was probably (once again) meant for more than two.
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Being as it was Friday the 13th today we thought it was only fitting to fill our evening with a Ghosts of Georgetown walking tour. On the tour we heard a number of stories related to the presidents and those they knew, most specifically Robert Todd Lincoln (the son of everyone’s…especially Kris’…favorite president). You should totally look him up and read about the crazy & tragic coincidences that occurred throughout his life. We also saw the house from the film The Exorcist and even walked down the creepy “Exorcist stairs.”
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After the tour we were exhausted, had really sore feet and were way too far from our temporary home. Instead of complaining the entire walk we decided to catch a cab. Give our little feet a break!

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
– We are 60% genetically similar to bananas.
– We would not make the cut as flight attendants.
– Robert Todd Lincoln was linked to 3 (possibly 4) presidential assassinations.
– We do not own the Hope Diamond.

Love, Luck & Landing (…like the moon landing…),
Justine & Kris

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I’ve changed my mind…Javert is my spirit animal.

This morning we packed our bags to leave. But more on our next adventure to come. We had a few more hours in New York and a couple of things we still wanted to accomplish. Our first stop was the 9/11 Museum.
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We both felt the museum was very well done. Upon entering you descend below ground into what was once the below-ground floors of the World Trade Complex. In the large atrium you can find structural steel girders bent complete into horseshoe shapes, the remnants of the staircase that allowed thousands to descend, and the final column to be removed from the site, which served as a memorial as it remained standing. The area was next divided into two large exhibits.
The first contained a time line and detailed description of the events of September 11. There were a large number of recovered objects to make
it very effective. Throughout there were voice overs of people’s memories of that day (there is actually a recording studio where you can tell your own story). It was a reminder of the thousands who survived. But there were also reminders of those lost: transcipts of emergency calls from the hijacked planes, phone messages left by those trapped in the towers’ upper floors and heroic tales of rescue workers who gave their lives to save so many.

The second section was a continuation of the memorial above. Here were photos of those who lost their lives that fateful morning. The photos were accompanied by a number of personal stories and belongings. Suddenly the countless faces and names were people with their own story, it was quite moving.

Upon leaving the museum we needed a cheer up. We headed uptown to Herald Square for a little shopping. This is the area we had passed on our walk home the night before.
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For lunch we popped into Pret a Manger. This was a frequent stop in Europe and were excited to visit one state side. Kris had a buffalo chicken wrap while Justine’s was pulled pork. Both were delicious and warm, needed in the slightly chilly day.

For us, we decided shopping in the US isn’t that exciting anymore. The majority of stores can be found back home and if we’re going to buy something designer we’re going to buy it on sale or at least not when the exchange rate is not in our favour. Amidst this, we still bought a couple of treats & souvenirs.

Next it was off to Washington DC! Yup, our next activity was to move on to an entirely different city…how exciting. The east coast has a very convenient train network connecting anywhere you’d want to visit. Our Amtrak ride between NY & DC would be a quick 3.5 hours. We became well-versed with train travel during our Europe trip, but have not had the opportunity to ride the rails since. We arrived at the station with plenty of time to pick up various snacks: a grilled cheese sandwich, a Santa Fe wrap, a sprinkled Krispy Kreme donut, a NY-staple black & white cookie and a pair of Tim Hortons ice caps. Yup real Timmy’s there in Penn Station. Who knew? We tried to be one of the first through the turnstiles when our platform was announced so that we could get prime storage space for our luggage & forward-facing seats together.
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On the train we snacked and blogged and listened to a playlist of Aladdin: The Original Broadway Cast (aka our cast), Les Miserables: The Movie Soundtrack and Once: The Original Broadway Cast (some people we’ve never heard of). Such a vast array of show tunes. In the course of of our journey we passed through 5 different states…a crazy concept for us Western Canada girls.

Our DC hostel was a short walk (made slightly longer due to construction) from the train station. We arrived in the city at Union Station, which is a grand building with all the amenities one might expect in a modern, high-class station. Kris (who was in DC with her mom last summer) acted as tour guide, telling Justine about the nude soldier statues positioned around the roof. When the station first opened the dignified lady passengers found these quite disturbing and vulgar. Rather than take them down the architect instead had each hold a giant shield which blocked their nether-regions…much more modest.
The hostel is nice, although we’re in a 4-person room (as opposed to the 2-person private room we had in NYC). Our roommates have made us jealous with tales of multiple-month journeys we wish we were on.
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There were still a few good hours left in the day by the time we got settled so we took a wander through downtown to the Mall. When we refer to the Mall in DC we are not talking about a shopping mall but instead about a grand expanse of important buildings, monuments and museums. At one end sits the Capitol Building. Dead center is the iconic Washington Monument. And at the other end is the Lincoln Memorial. We approached at the Capitol end. Justine was amazed by its height & grandeur when she caught her first glimpse. Kris, again acting as tour guide, pointed out each of the Smithsonian Museums as we passed on our walk down the Mall. We can’t wait for a full day of museums tomorrow!

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
– We are not good shoppers.
– Train systems are pretty similar in the US to Europe.

FAVORITE PARTS:
– A 3.5 hour break on our feet.
– Learning to duet the entirety of One Day More.

Love, Luck & Louis Vuitton,
Justine & Kris