Sunday, 24 June 2012

DC & New York: IV

David and I had grand plans for our last day in DC, but ended up having to scale them back. Dave needed to catch up on some rest, and I suffering from a sort of traveling muscle pain that was making walking a bit uncomfortable. As we had all our luggage to cart around that day it seemed prudent to just take it slow.

We decided to go to Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is located at the Catholic University of America in the far North-East of the city (so far east that my guidebook assured us that even the criminals don’t get out that far!). So eventually we got up, ate our last hotel breakfast, settled our bill, and then sprinted across four lanes of traffic (that I managed this with a pulled muscle, my suit case, and my big ol' pregnant belly should impress everyone...that and David helped me) to the side of the road with an actual sidewalk. I was a little anxious about making it through dodgy neighbourhood that was en route to the metro stop with all our luggage. Obviously we wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t safe, but it’s certainly not an area that I would want to linger in and it made me glad that we had stayed at the place we did, safely on the side of the highway.

We got to the basilica quite early, because we did not want to have to worry about organising our bags right before Mass started. This meant we had ample time to sit in the downstairs cafeteria and get caffeinated, and I was able to go browse in the basilica shop. I was hoping to buy an icon, but they only seemed to have proper icons on sale, meaning that the prices were upwards of one hundred dollars. So I bought myself a pretty gilt picture of the Virgin, with the memorare prayer at the bottom, and ended up being quite glad I had since the picture was closer to the decoration in the basilica than an icon would have been.

Mass was what I have come to expect from large formal churches—difficult to hear with a choir that was too elaborate to follow. After Mass we wandered around the basilica looking at all the different side chapels. It is a very beautiful church and the side chapels were all very individual in their styles of decoration. Nothing seemed too out of place or modern, which was impressive as it is often difficult to find churches with good modern decoration. I suppose it depends on the grandeur of the building, as Ely Cathedral is another place that I can think of where the modern pieces work alongside the older ones.

Instead of walking from Foggy Bottom to the Capitol, as had been our original plan, we got off the metro in central DC and went for lunch at the Tram Spot (or something like) where we feasted on pulled pork and bbq burgers. Then it was off to Barnes & Noble for a comfort break and David’s run-in with security. Apparently they are so unaccustomed to people buying books in their stores that they assume browsers are there to blow up the place. Fortunately I emerged from the ladies just in time to rescue my Unidentified Male and our Abandoned Luggage from the overzealous security guard. We bought some locally made pies from the cafe before making our escape to the street and heading towards our train to New York.

David tried to befriend a squirrel, but it did not much fancy the coated peanut we fed it.
I actually managed to stay awake for our journey this time. It was neat watching the countryside fly past, and I found it quite exciting to cross a few states in three hours. We made it to New York just as the daylight faded but the area around Penn Station is quite used to traveler traffic so it was easy to find our way to a taxi, and thence to mid-town East.

David’s mum has a very kind friend who lives in New York and who let us use her downtown apartment for four days. She was even thoughtful enough to stock up the fridge with some breakfast foods and give us a couple of subway cards to get us started. After a brief visit with her, Dave and I went out to locate some cheap and quick pizza. Fortunately there was a place just around the corner, and I finally managed to cure my chicken wing cravings with a slice of buffalo wing pizza (it even had ranch dressing drizzle). Then it was back to the flat for some brief unpacking and a chance to put our feet up. 

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