Anyone who knows me knows I like my detective crime novels, knows I like a good secret, spy story, and knows I like to visit places that are a bit hush hush, and I feel nowhere comes under that bracket quite like the Pentagon. I had excitedly applied and waited to hear if we had been cleared to visit for a tour for months, and thankfully it came in with a few days to spare. So, on a particularly rainy and miserable Washington DC day, we set out for some iconic buildings and to tour one of the most secure buildings in the world.
I have wanted to visit places like the Pentagon for years. It’s exciting to visit and see places that are usually kept secret and under lock and key. The Pentagon was somewhere I visited when I want to Washington DC last time, but a broken foot combined with a huge building and extreme security stopped us from staying long, so this time I found out we could apply to do a FREE tour in advance. We were cleared a couple of days before and were super excited. The building itself is colossal, and from the side is nigh on impossible to detect it is a Pentagon shape. It’s the home of the US Department of Defence and was a victim of the 9/11 atrocity, so the security is understandably high, so we were scanned and told we couldn’t have phones and devices out. I didn’t mind, we managed to get some photos in the ‘safe to take photos’ and ‘staged photo’ area, and had an amazing guide. The most incredible thing, other than the building and the services inside (there was shops, banks, post office, restaurants, hair dressers, a green park area… I mean everything), was how the guide managed to navigate the tour and tell us all this amazing information WHILE WALKING BACKWARDS!!
After the tour we spent a little time looking at the memorials set up and taking in the building once again before making our way back over the river to the Smithsonian Museums. The weather was shocking, the rain and the wind was seriously affecting our day, so we decided that instead of spending time on the mall and in a couple of museums, we would museum hop down the mall and see more than we were planning in the exhibits itself, and stop for coffee in between to ease the amount of time in the rain. I was soaked, and had a major panic at one point when I realised I had left my purse in a Starbucks, but other than that, the day was great.
The Smithsonian Museum is less a building, more an institute and series of 19 themed/categorised buildings that showcases some of the most impressive collections throughout history (it even stretches to include the Zoo we visited earlier on our trip). The Museum of Natural History is one of the most well known, and is the site of the second Night at the Museum films. I love dinosaurs and wanted to see the Hope Diamond, and we both enjoy a good museum, so we headed there first to take in the sights and sounds and all things impressive. The shop was amazing too and was the source of the majority of gifts we acquired for friends, family, and ourselves, and was a pretty awesome start.
Once we left, we carried on in the rain and popped in and out of different building, checking the ‘Castle’ and the more impressive architecture, and made our way to the National Air and Space Museum. I love space, and rockets, and planes, and all things NASA, so it was like a kids playground. There were models everywhere from throughout history, moon rock to touch, the landing capsule from the first moon landing, everything to cap a great day of fact finding.
By the time we had eaten and made it back to the hotel room, I was cold and wet. Throughout the day I had been able to ring my clothes out because the rain had made them that wet, so I was ready to get in bed and think about getting warm. Instead, we had to pack ready for an early morning start and trip to New York on the Amtrak, so we got into our pyjamas, stuck Catfish on the TV and prepared ourselves for the Big Apple.