19.07.2012 - 20.07.2012 33 °C
At the start of day 4 I was ready to leave new York- not that there's anything wrong with the city, I like it a lot; it's 24 hour, you can buy anything, do anything it's great- its just that I'd done so much of it before and I wanted to see something new. I love going away by myself but after a few days I wanted to talk to someone, not even about my experiences, just to shoot the breeze as they say. I got my wish quicker than I expected as I began my journey to Washington Dc-the nations capital. I was travelling by train from penn station and when I was waiting found it amazing quite how far you could go by train in the USA. Most routes were going down the east coast but there were some being advertised to the other side of the country. Even though I'm going to be on one of those trains soon it was still weird to see them being advertised so casually.
Anyway I boarded my train with the crowds, mostly American tourists, day trippers and a few early commuters from what I could hear and see. I had my ticket checked at least 3 times before I even sat down. Very unlikely you could just push through the barrier on these trains. There are attendants everywhere. The conductor was this very short native American woman (from what I could guess) who had the highest voiceive ever heard- it wasn't shrill, just very high like she had inhaled a lot of helium before she came to work. So I settled down with my iPad, a 3 hour journey which I intended to spend watching Videos and looking at the major cities as we passed them. But as fate would have it, that was not to be as I found myself talking to mrs dingle from Philadelphia ( I really wanted to ask whether it was west Philadelphia and had she been born and raised there but I held my tongue)
Mrs dingle was a grandmotherly black woman who was returning from new York after seeing her grandchildren. She bustled to her seat and after making some niceties with me about people rushing around etc she went quiet and I thought she was just going to read or knit or whatever grandmothers do on the train. But noo, after about 5 minutes, mrs dingle ( and by the way when we exchanged names I said I'm Wavell and she introduced herself as mrs dingle which is just pretty awesome by itself, first name mrs, last name dingle?) launched into a story about how she used to drive to new York but got into a terrible accident a couple of years ago and affording a new car would have left her in debt and she has just fully paid off her debts and anyway her son lives in Boston and that would have been too long a drive and he might be getting a divorce but she thinks the woman is to blame for the end of the marriage and so on and so on. And this was just all in the first 20 minutes! As I said before though, I was pretty keen on some conversation so I went along with her stories and added a few of my own. She now knows that I'm a teacher, my family history and their current doings (ESP my brother ) , where I live, medical history etc. although I'm not quite sure she understood the geography of England since she proceeded to ask me if she visited the uk, should she visit London or England? I was temporarily nonplussed by this question and my response made no sense but then neither did the question and she didn't seem to care much anyway.
Before she left the train, she compared me to designer oswald boateng completely out of the blue and that was the last I shall ever see or hear of her. Mrs dingle...
Coming out of union station in DC has much the same effect as arriving in trafalgar square for the first time except its cleaner and the buildings are whiter. There is history everywhere and you can see the Capitol building (where congress meets) from the station. I was looking forward to exploring the next day. But I had to find my hostel first. This wasn't too difficult and it's located fairly close to downtown which is helpful. It looked dilapidated from outside and I thought it had been a scam to get money from me but it was there and I got myself checked in fairly quickly. The first couple of hours are always the hardest in a hostel- either there's lots of solo travellers, the drinks are flowing and it's easy to join OR there's lots of little groups tapping away at laptops ( like I'm doing now but it's different because theres only 1 other person in here) and when I got here it was the latter. The we're like 7 people sitting the talking quietly in foreign languages and I felt like an idiot. But to paraphrase rick James, alcohol is a helluva drug and it wasn't long before I was getting steadily *involved*. A couple of us went to a bar nearby and had the American version of a lock in with the manager who was a bit of an Anglophile and enjoyed winding us up. Was a great end to a good day-my best so far in the states.