Sunday, 9 August 2015

Giant pandas and a full moon.

Last week my friends and I ventured out of the small, fireball-whisky drinking town that we've been staying in and headed to Washington D.C. It was definitely more educational than any organised school trip.

I've finally learnt that I should not be given the responsibility to book accommodation for other people. A few years ago, my sister and I were interrailing around Europe and  I had been trusted to book the first night of accommodation. The hostel ended up being located in the outer Bronx of Paris and the owner had no recollection of our reservation. This resulted in her putting us up in a room that required my sister and I to get way too close to an Italian Stallion who refused to acknowledge either of us. Seriously, Freddy Krueger would've been more approachable. In D.C, the hostel I dragged my friends to also had no record of our reservation. Although unlike Paris, I awkwardly realised (after insisting that I had made the reservation through the hostel's own website) that I was actually causing a scene in the wrong hostel.

Once we reached the correct hostel, my friends and I decided to spend our first day exploring the National Mall. This highlighted how important it can be to think through your clothing choices. Wearing your bumbag with true tourist pride might make you feel like the King of the Mall but nothing will take the edge off like wearing a thin shirt in over 30 degree heat when you have very heavy hair. My back was so sweaty it was like Niagara Falls and everyone in D.C could see it. Although unlike Niagara Falls, I highly doubt my back will become a tourist destination anytime soon.

I've also realised that tourist attractions can very disappointing. Visiting the White House was incredibly underwhelming and in my opinion, borderline creepy. I'm not sure when it became socially acceptable to stand outside an attractive man's house and take pictures through an iron gate. There are a lot of tourists out there, myself included, who are probably now due a restraining order.

Visiting the National Mall also reinforced the brutal fact that dreams rarely come true. Before visiting Washington, I'd always dreamed of re-enacting the scene from Forest Gump where Jenny runs through the reflecting pool. When we finally reached the reflecting pool, that dream quickly vanished. The only thing I would've gained from getting in that grotty water would've been genuine sick days off work. Although Lincoln's memorial must have provided some inspiration as I decided to try and overcome my fear of birds by taking a selfie with a duck. Okay, it might not be as impressive as issuing the Emancipation Proclamation but everyone has to start somewhere. 

When you're exploring the night life of a city, it probably is better to visit that city on a weekend. It turns out that on a Tuesday Night, Washington D.C. can provide nothing but karaoke (I obviously wan't complaining). Although a few guys in Nellie's Sports Bar (a gay bar) did apparently have something to complain about when my friend and I got on stage. Nothing puts you off your Dirrty by Christina Agularia rendition quite like people trying to hustle you off stage for not being gay. All I wanted to do was entertain the bar whilst showing them that I'm too dirrty to clean my act up, jeez.

For our second day in D.C., my friends and I decided to take advantage of the free activities on offer and visit the Smithsonian Zoo. The Zoo is where I learnt that no matter how excited you are to see giant pandas for the first time, it is not acceptable to push small children out of the way to gain a better vantage point. I still maintain the fact that the judgemental looks from the parents were worth it because I was able to witness a giant panda re-enacting an 80's workout video. The panda had an impeccable crunch technique so all he was really missing was the fluorescent socks and a high-waisted workout thong.

My friends had to leave D.C a couple of days earlier than I did and that is when I began to learn more about hostels and exploring a city on your own. It's true that hostels really are a great place for meeting new people, although not all of them will be the greatest people you'll ever meet. After forgetting to pack my pyjama bottoms, I obviously include myself in this category. When people say that full moons are beautiful I sincerely doubt that they're referring to my bottom as I'm climbing up and down a bunk bed ladder. Unsurprisingly, the guy sleeping in the bed underneath me refused to say a word to me throughout the entire duration of my stay.

On the other hand, you can also meet the greatest people in a hostel. A few guys I met actually encouraged my love for organised fun and even let me create the rules for a bar game we found. Yet this could've only been because they'd already had a few cocktails and the actual rules took a long time to read. Even if that is the case, they still seemed to enjoy some of my museum puns the next day and trust me, that's rare. Although, I don't think we quite reached the stage where it would've been perfectly normal for me to have asked them to photograph me whilst I pretended that a replica dinosaur was eating my face. That requires true friendship.

Even though my toes may have been crippled from walking so much and my skin may have literally been fried (I wouldn't recommend putting baby oil on instead of moisturiser), I loved D.C. and all of its lessons.