Baltic-American
Freedom Foundation

Participant Blog

From the Traveler’s diary: my time in the capital city of the US (Part II)

Before you read this story make sure you have read Part I where everything began…

When the highways started to be
more crowded and twisted, Washington DC was coming closer. The first thing I
needed to do when I arrived at the Union Station was so simple and again very
annoying – I required to charge my cell phone battery and to buy a prepaid for
the phone. It took hours all together and the funny thing is that I couldn’t
count anymore on my phone – I didn’t received the text messages from Ieva,
where I was going to stay and another friends message that he was ill and
couldn’t meet. So I went to Starbucks in front of the bright Chinatown gate,
sipped from the frappuccino, read the book Midnight
garden of good and evil
and waited for my phone to be enough charged.
Finally I could call Ieva and find out how to find her place. Ieva is also an
Intern of the Baltic American Freedom Foundation. She is a lawyer dealing with
international human rights laws.

Dupont Circle was the place where
I needed to go. I followed the advice of a man and took the metro. I have to admit
that the system for buying a ticket, if you are a visitor was, without
exxagerating, not easy in this city. People who didn’t had a refilling card yet,
had hard times to figure out how to get out a right ticket and I was not the
only one.

It was already dark outside when
I lastly met Ieva at a very nice looking building where she was staying while a friend who lived there was on holidays. She could stay there before she
finds her residence. It was a neighbourhood of many embassies, it had a little
bit the same charm of the famous Art Nouveau style in Albert Street in Riga. Ieva
was at that time only a week in DC and it was her first work day when I met her.
Although it was kind of a tough day for both of us, we went out the same
evening. We found ourselfes in the Adam Morgan district, which was in a
walkable distance. The Adam Morgan is called a culturally diverse neighbourhood
with many nice bars and restaurants. We went to one pub with a nice porch where
other guests were smoking waterpipes. We choose a beer, when the owner asked us
in what kind of language are we talking with each other.

„It’s Latvian,” we replyed.

Then he said something very interesting:

”Oh, of course, I used to know this
guy Kristaps who owned over there the Pharmacy bar”, he pointed to a place
across the street approx. 100 feet away and continued, „he moved with his family
to Riga and there he opened a pub with the same name”.

Ieva knew that the Pharmacy bar
started somewhere here in DC, but she was not aware that we were so close to
this place. The interesting thing was that we both have been to the bar in
Riga, so it was intriguing for both of us to go and check out this place. The place
looked very much like in Riga– the walls were dark blue and the table tops have
been decorated with pills of all different shapes and everywhere you could find
some signs in Latvian saying something about the health and pharmacy. As I
later read the owner Kristaps grandfather owned pharmacies in Latvia. So this
is the background story.

The barkeeper looked a bit bored
and for him it was nothing new to see some Latvians with shiney eyes entering
this place. He was an american, but he knew the Latvian gang. The pub has an
odd style, but it was cool to find out that on Wednesdays they order also some
Latvian beer. It was a Monday evening, so I had no other choise to drink an
American flavour. And hey, I’m in the US – I want the american experience!

On the next morning I followed
Ieva’s advice and took the Big bus tour around the city. The day started with a
rain, but it stopped at the same moment when we went out the apartment. It was
Ievas second day at the office, my first full day in DC. I loved the tour,
although there was an accident what happend some 40 minutes after I entered
the bus. After seeing Georgetown from the double-deck, one truck hit the bus
and smashed the wing mirror, so I had to wait with my fellows for another bus to switch to. I
felt a bit sorry that just before I was thinking with respect how the lady
managed to drive this huge bus and talk some interesting historic facts at the
same time. But this was definetely the trucks fault.

The first place I hopped off was
the Lincoln Memorial, which is an American national monument to honor the 16th
President of the United States. It is designed after Greek temples, and was
build from 1914-1922. Lincoln memorial is the site of many large public gatherings
and protests. This was the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his
famous „I have dream” speech to a crowd in 1963.

Dc1
Chinatown on the first evening in DC and Lincoln Memorial on the first full day

I
took again the bus and passed by the Washington Monument which is both the world's tallest stone structure
and the world's tallest obelisk. It was built to commemorate the first
US president, General George Washington.
Washington DC has no skyscrapers for a reason – in the Heights of Buildings Act
of 1910 they limited the height to be no higher than 110 feet. It was a response
to the construction of the 164-foot (50 m) high Cairo Hotel. I first thought it
was the Monument what made the limitation, but it’s not a building. Because of
the latest earthquakes in Virginia in 2011, the Monument remains closed to public.

Dc2
The Monument, at the Capitol with Jordan, the Archives and the White House

I went
closer also to the White House, but I choose to come back later. It was time to
go to the Capitol Hill where I had a meeting with an acquaintance who I got to
know on one of the first days in Birmingham. Jordan is a friend of Laura, my
rooomate, and now he is working for the congress in a building called Longworth
House. He had time to have a lunch with me. I was happy that I calculated the
time right and was on time there. It was great to see him again and the lunch
place was wonderful.

So back on the bus, the sun was
shining very bright. I passed by the museums and choose to go later to the Air
and Space museum to find out why it’s so popular. The bus made a circle around
the Tidal Basin, where is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano
Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King Memorial. I foun myself back at the
Lincoln Memorial where I waited for the blue loop bus which could take me for
another round to the Pentagon. After that I thought that it was not really that
interesting to see the building and it was funny to see that there were still
people who were taking photos of the Pentagon building although it was said
that it is strictly forbidden. After the bus tour I went to the Air and Space
Museum,
took a lot of photos there, and started to feel the sunburn on my skin.

Dc3
The Air and Space Museum and me after

On the next and last day I went
with Andrew, who made it also to come to Washington DC, to the Museum
of Natural History. Then we went to meet Ieva for lunch at the Adam Morgan
district.

Dc4
The lunch with Ieva and Andrew and the Museum of Natural History

After that I still had some time
before my flight so I suggested canoeing the Potomac River. That was a fun
experience!

Dc5Canoeing the Potomac River

It was a bittersweet feeling when I needed to leave from the Reagan Airport to go back to Birmingham. I had the feeling that there is so much more to discover in this place. But I knew that the heart
of Dixie with the warmness will welcome me home. As they say: „Sweet home
Alabama!”