Washington DC, the lucky layover

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I had a business trip to Philadelphia a while back.  Since the flight was needed on short notice I had to pick a flight with a five hour layover in Washington DC. I originally was perturbed that I would be stuck at the airport for such a long time. After doing some research I found out the airport I was going to be at ( Reagan National) was only a short train ride to the center of the city.  And with good mass transit, I could have a mini vacation in the nation’s capital.

The Lincoln memorial, where a statue of our sixteenth president has a commanding view over the national mall.

The last time I had visited Washington was back in 1979 on a vacation with my family. So much was different and new. The war memorials (WWII, Korea and Vietnam) and the FDR and MLK memorials were all new to me. I had to rush but I was certain I could at the very least get some pictures.

The view from the Lincoln Memorial

Nothing is ever as real as when you actually experience it. I had seen countless pictures and documentaries about the Vietnam wall. But much like the war itself, reading and seeing pictures is never the same as actually being there.

A family  remembers. For every name there was a face, a life and a dream extinguished.
A memorial honoring the women who served and died at Vietnam.
Statues honoring those who served

I was reminded again that our country is an ongoing experiment. Sometimes we fail badly. Sometimes We succeed beyond what anyone can imagine. But it is a struggle that doesn’t end. And we should all play a part.

The chillingly lifelike faces of the Korean war memorial.

Before this particular trip I had forgotten just how wonderful a layover can be. Now when i fly i often look specifically for flights that offer a layover. Just follow a few guidelines: Allow a minimal four hours on a domestic flight and at least six on an international. Make sure there is reliable mass transit to and from the airport. Also on international flights make sure that leaving the airport is allowed. That really does vary from country to country. But if carefully planned a layover can be almost a bonus vacation.dcw

What are your thoughts? Have you ever had a layover where you got to leave the airport and explore? Would love to hear your comments!

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