Tag Archives: sightseeing

Getting Away from The Hustle and Bustle (2)

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  In addition to Old Town Alexandria and the Botanical Garden, there are two more places in my pocket list where I recommend you to go if you want to get away from the city life for a while.

  1. Arlington National Cemetery:

  Arlington National Cemetery is a place to honor American soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save their nation. Instead of horror, I felt a sense of tranquility and also a bit of sadness when thinking of so many families that were torn apart during wars. If you go there, you are recommended either to climb up the mountain on foot to visit the famous spots like Tomb of the Unknowns or John F. Kennedy Grave Site, or hopping on a trolley and listen to the tour guide’s introduction of the cemetery’s history. Remember to be quite and pay respect to others because it is a place for people to honor the dead and memorize the past.

  1. Washington National Cathedral:

    Washington National Cathedral is the sixth largest in the world and it is a Gothic style Cathedral built of Indiana limestone. The gorgeous architecture, beautiful stained glasses, chapels, and many others are worth visiting. I was really amazed by how huge and beautiful it is when I stepped in the building. No matter you have a religious background or not, it is a great option to sign up in the tour and listen carefully to the history and stories of the Cathedral. Although I paid the admission fee to enter the Cathedral, I feel no regret because it is really a must visit. The breath-taking decorations and architecture along with the religious atmosphere gave me a sense of peacefulness. I felt it was a pity that I could not share more pictures with you because it is not allowed to take photos in the Cathedral.

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Getting Away from The Hustle and Bustle (1)

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  Washington DC is really a great place where I can enjoy myself exploring around. During most of my free time, I will visit museums or galleries to admire the works in exhibitions and learn American history. I feel excited doing so, but sometimes just want to get away from all those urbanized areas and “artificial things.” Therefore, I gradually collect some places in my pocket lists where I can get away from the city’s hustle and bustle for a second.

1.Old Town Alexandria:

  Old Town Alexandria is a lovely and beautiful place. Hopping on a free tourist trolley is a great way to explore the place because you can admire the streets and scenery there while listening to the radio on the trolley which explains the history of the place and introduces every tourist spot at the same time. After the tour, you can walk along the street and do some shopping in some exquisite stores until dusk. Just remember not to miss the extraordinary sunset at the waterfront! I believe you will feel refreshed after a day in Old Town Alexandria.

2.Botanical Garden:

  If you are a nature lover, I believe you will like the botanical garden near the capitol. There is a wide array of plants and flowers in the garden where you can get immersed in the nature and learn about some fun facts about the plants at the same time. It is a well-organized garden because every area has its own topic such as endangered species, tropical species, and so on. When you feel tired and want to grab something to eat, you can bring your meal to a huge area near the entrance with tables and seats. It might be a memorable experience to have your meal in the garden surrounded by a variety of plants!

National Cherry Blossom Festival

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   Since I heard that there is a cherry blossom festival at D.C every spring, I have been looking forward to attending it. As a result, I have paid really close attention to the weather and any information about the time when cherry trees would probably blossom since March. It was still chilly these few weeks, so I was worried about whether I could successfully view the blossoms. Fortunately, this Sunday, I was able to spend a great afternoon with my friends walking to Thomas Jefferson Memorial to view the cherry blossom during peak bloom.

    It was my first time in life to view cherry blossoms, so I was astonished at the amazingly beautiful scenery. The pathways were covered by the pinkish and whitish cherry blossoms. I felt so relaxed strolling under those trees, taking photos of the cherry blossoms, and capturing all those precious moments. Although it was a little bit too crowded there, for the place was overwhelmed by hundreds of people, including American citizens and tourists around the world, I still believed that the cherry blossom festival was worth visiting.

    In addition to viewing the cherry blossoms, one can also buy some souvenirs at the shops there and perhaps get some food at the vendors nearby. That is, for those who are planning to go to the festival, you definitely will not feel bored at all. It is better to attend the festival before next week, or the blossoms might start to wither and fall. I guarantee that you will not regret attending this natural banquet, for the beauty is indeed beyond descriptions.

March for Our Lives

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When I decided to come to D.C as part of my degree, I had also taken into account my passion for American politics. D.C doesn’t deserve its reputation as a heartless capital, filled with greedy corporations and stern-looking institutions. Not only is D.C home to congress, the White House and the Supreme Court, it also contains a vibrant civil society, which is the beating heart of the nation’s capital. This is what I witnessed last Sunday at the “march for our lives” event.

As an external observer, I took part in the march. And I did it gladly, even though it is not my fight. Coming from Europe, guns are seen in a completely different. Or they are literally not seen at all by people who can’t use them: no concealed or open carry of any sort. No second amendment. Arguably, no school or mass shootings of any sort, as a result of no guns given to civilians. But this is another story.

I slept in and woke up around 11. I grabbed a quick breakfast and was soon out of my place. After a week of bad weather, finally a sunny day. Cherry blossoms, rays of sun, and the city is completely revamped.

I went to the Lincoln memorial, thinking I was going to find a protesting crowd. But there were sparse groups of people, some with signs, but mostly tourist. I asked for information and was directed to freedom plaza, close to 13th and E street. Where the march was happening. Turns out, the March wasn’t a March, it was a huge gathering. I made my way through the mass of people, took pictures of signs, laughed at the spelling mistakes and shuddered at the death related statistics. The testimonies of the activists on the stage were powerful, to say the least. It was a very emotionally charged march.

More than 500.000 people attended the march, according to reports. On top of that, similar marches were organized all across the US, elevating the march to being the biggest for gun control.

America is so alive politically. The citizenry does care. And I know it’s not only DC.

People voice their approval, as much as their disapproval for their political leaders. In comparison, Italians passively accept what happens. More often than not, the majority adopts a resigned posture with regards to politics. They don’t happen to think that they can use their voice.

In a capital like Rome, it would be hard to be dragged into a nation-wide demonstration.

That’s the beauty of D.C. You can wake up on a mid-semester Sunday morning, decide to go for a walk to end up being part of a historic moment.

Preserving the Past

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    One thing I was really impressed by the United States when I came here was its strong protection and preservation of its historical heritage and history. Also, the guide tours in most national museums, cemeteries, and historical sites which are made to teach or introduce their stories are well-organized. Therefore, it is not rare to see teachers bringing their students to these places to learn. As an English major, I appreciate it so much because I can learn American history vividly on the spot rather than reading all those tedious materials only based on textbooks. In addition, I believe preserving history is the only way for people to remember what efforts their ancestors made and try not to make the same mistakes that will bring disasters such as WWⅠ and WWⅡ.

    Among those places where historical sites are preserved and organized in a great condition, Philadelphia is my favorite one until now, and I strongly recommend those who want to dig into the 18th and 19th American history to go there. Philadelphia used to be the temporary capital of United States where declaration of independence and the constitution were signed. Hence, Philadelphia can be viewed as the starting point of America’s democracy. There are a lot of historical sites worth visiting like Penn’s Landing, Independence Hall, Old City Hall, Congress Hall, Betsy Ross House, Benjamin Franklin Museum, Liberty Bell, and so on. In brief, Philadelphia is a place best for a few day trip to get immersed in its historical atmosphere and admire the beautiful architectures.

    If you crave for some delicious food, do not forget to try the famous cheesesteaks there! (Franklin Fountain should also be in your list if you also want to try some ice cream for your dessert.)

  

Dad’s surprise visit

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Surprise visit with my dad.

My dad’s here, again. He’s stopped by D.C before leaving to go back to Italy. He’s scheduled to leave next Wednesday.

This time he came with his girlfriend, Erica, that I met for the first time. They met back in August in New York, when my dad came to help me move in. They met in a Starbucks. My Dad was in line to the cashier and could not understand a word of what the employee was saying. Not being able to speak English, he was just standing there trying to figure out what the cashier was asking.

Erica was the next in line. She was in a hurry, and paid for his coffee. And here they are, coming to visit in D.C.

They are funny together, they have their own way to communicate as they have no shared language to speak in.

So once again, despite my fast approaching midterms, I spent the weekend doing touristy activities. We went to see the Smithsonian American Art museums, where the portraits of President Obama and Michelle are exposed.

I have finally been fed good food for the entire weekend: we tried Ethiopian, Thai, Japanese and Indian cuisine.

We concluded the weekend watching the Italian elections that took place on Sunday, march 4th. I’d say this is the lowest note of the weekend. As I write, the votes have been counted, and the situation looks particularly dire. A center right, populist coalition has won a clear majority. The anti E.U 5 Star Movement comes second.

I find solace in the fact that I don’t live in Italy. My dad is leaving tomorrow, and flying back home on March 7th. I’m not envious.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts

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    One of the reasons why I chose GWU as my exchange university is that its location makes it a perfect place for students to have access to rich resources. Among them, the great number of museums allow me to get immersed in the world of arts and acquire knowledge related to those artistic products. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is one of the famous museums on my wish list that I would like to visit once.

    NMWA, according to the introductory information on the website, is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. Inside the museum, there are abundant masterpieces from female artists on display. The museum itself is just like a huge palace, creating a tranquil space for the visitors to admire those works of art.

    Among the art works, “Sleeping Mask, 2014” by Gillian Wearing impressed me the most. The caption beside says, “Recognizing that self-presentation-in public, on the internet, or in written communication-is a form of masking.” Indeed, including men and women, most people in the world wear a mask in front of others for fear of social norms and regulations.

    Another work that impressed me a lot is “4 Seated Figures, 2002” by Magdalena Abakanowicz. I was not able to understand what the artist wanted to convey until I read the illustration beside. “These handless figures relate to the artist’s personal experiences: she witnessed her mother being shot in the hands as soldiers stormed their home in Poland during WWⅡ.” The story behind these figures made me feel sad about how cruel wars were and how people suffered during that period.

    I have also been to other museums in D.C until now, so I still have a lot to share with you. I might update them in the near future anyway. For those who are interested in women’s arts and how they fight for gender equality, NWMA must be the right place.