This morning we dragged ourselves out of bed to finalise packing and head for Penn (Pennsylvania) Station. Luckily that was only on w31st street and about 3 or 4 blocks west. I was wondering how we would go dragging all of our suitcases there but it wasn’t too bad. It was quite manageable and the train left on time!
It was 3.5 hour train trip and the first stop outside of New York at Newark already put us in the country zone. You could live pretty close to New York and commute fairly easily from the country.
The style of houses immediately changed once we left Manhattan and we started to see a few bridges over rivers.
We passed a few towns that we have heard of in films and books (and not always in a good way…). Philadelphia being one and also Baltimore. Qantico was also listed after Washington. Read lots of books and seen lots of films and TV series about that one. Baltimore did not look pleasant, but then a lot of towns don’t look pleasant from the railway end of town.
The trip just flew and not enough snoozing was had. I worked on this blog and battled with the erratic WiFi provided by Amtrak….
The train had been quiet (well quietish if you don’t count the snorting lady and screaming baby…) but I had been busy on the laptop and hadn’t really had time to think about the transition from Manhattan to Washington.
OMG! We got off the train and one of the porters helped me with my very heavy suitcase as the platform was a lot lower than when we left New York… We found our way to the taxi rank which had just a few people in it. There was sunshine and warmth! Even though the weather app said that it was only 13 deg. C. We were basking! Positively basking! Even better, it was so quiet!! It was like someone had sucked all of the New York noise out of the air. I hadn’t even realised that New York was that noisy. Although having said that, on my previous trip, I flew home from New York and for 3 nights after I got home my head was spinning every time I went to sleep and I dreamt that I was battling my way walking up the grid streets with yellow taxi cabs hurtling past and shrieking traffic noise. It was like being sucked into a hurricane. So maybe New York is a little noisy… You just get used to it which probably means that you are damaging your hearing… Anyway, Washington as instantly quiet and civilised. A pleasure but I wasn’t quite ready to forget the chaos of New York.
The taxi manager was so courteous and organised. He found us a minivan and looked for ‘Mum’ to help me with my luggage. Then he helped Poppy. We dropped him a tip and we were our way for the whole 10 minutes that it took us to drive to 20 8th Street, Southeast Washington. The roads were wide and the traffic was civilised. The neighbourhood was delightful. Like Battery Point in Hobart. Very gentrified.
By the time the cab parked outside our rental and we got out and immediately got a nose full of Lilac from the garden in the house next door, we were reeling sideways with the sense of space, quietness and warmth. It was like we had been sucked up into a tornado like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and planted in some strange land. We were only hours out of Manhattan and raving like some lunatics released from prison. And we had loved New York!
We couldn’t stop talking about how spacious it was. The house was a duplex and triple level (including a basement). It immediately became obvious that the owners normally lived there as their belongings were scattered everywhere.
2nd bedroom baggsed by the 12 year old…
3rd bedroom – for Poppy and the 16 year old to share…
We hadn’t been here long when the owner, Chantal (Shantall, not Shontell…), popped up outside. She said that the she was always close by but I assumed that was in another house nearby (she had said they had 3 other rentals), not in the basement under our house… Apparently they live in the house and when they have bookings they move into their basement which has virtually no windows… They also have a rental in the South Hamptons…
The house is crammed full of ‘things’. There are no bare surfaces and certainly no spare drawers to put anything in or hanging space. The kitchen is quite large and is chock a block full in every cupboard with gadgets.
Anyway, we dropped our bags and headed off on our first walk to scope out the local markets (fruit and veg as well as shops and cafes). We just could not help exclaiming over how spacious, warm and quiet it all was. So civilised! The suburb of Capitol Hill is so quaint! Full of old town houses with cute Spring gardens and adorable squirrels. The streets are wide and the traffic is so quiet and sparse in comparison to the lunacy of New York! The shops and cafes are quaint and not a skyscraper in sight. We started to relax. Our shoulders started to drop as they unhunched. We peeled off layers of clothes and I even went sleeveless!! It felt so much warmer than 13 deg. We didn’t have to dodge traffic. The traffic signals gave us up to 60 seconds to cross the road, not the New York 19 seconds (well plus 5 if you are a New Yorker)… We didn’t have to look over our shoulders, right, left and right again (and left again). It was safe to cross the roads with the lights…
We missed the Eastern Markets which are only a couple of blocks of away but wandered freely through the Capitol Hill shops and cafes. We were looking desperately for a decent sized supermarkets to stop up on some basics. But still no luck! We could only find small, organic markets… Expensive!
We went out again to check out the United States Capitol Building (equivalent of Parliament House) which is 8 small blocks away. Looks a bit unkempt in the surrounding grounds but the building is very grand. We wandered as far as the Air and Space Smithsonian then limped home to our customary drinks and nibbles.
22 000 steps (despite half a day on the train).