a Capitol adventure - The Jefferson, Washington DC


a Capitol adventure - The Jefferson, Washington DC
Following the route of the next presidential inauguration in Washington DC
by Segway was fantastic, then visiting the museums drenched me in history.
neil murray
A Capitol adventure
wheely good Ready for the off on the Segway
pretty Tulip bed near the Capitol building
bonnie and died Famous shot-up car
”Most of DC’s
famous sights
came into view
on a glorious
sunny day”
When the next US
President is inaugurated in
January 2017, he (or she)
will drive in convoy from
the Capitol building in
Washington DC along
Pennsylvania Avenue to
the White House.
Which is why I was so knocked out
to make the same journey, right down
the middle of the avenue (in a cycle
lane), during a Segway tour of the city.
I was a bit apprehensive at first
about keeping my balance but, after a
comprehensive briefing session with
guide Quilla, I soon got the hang of it.
And what a tour it was, with most
of DC’s famous sights coming into
view on a glorious sunny day in the
US capital – the National Mall, the
Smithsonian museums, the White
House, the Washington Monument
and the Lincoln Memorial.
At the Newseum, my first stop after
the tour, I marvelled at the giant
(22ft X 40ft) Hall of News screen and
took the largest glass elevator in the
world to the sixth floor to work my
way through the museum.
From the Reporting Vietnam
exhibit to the front pages of that day’s
US and world papers; from news
history through five centuries to the
Civil Rights at 50 exhibit; and from
the seven editions on one day of the
New York Herald covering the
Lincoln assassination to the moving
911 Gallery, the Newseum is a riveting
place for anyone interested in how
news is gathered and reported.
Having called in at most of the
Smithsonian’s collection of museums
on the National Mall during a
previous visit, I settled for a look at
the Museum of American History,
where the 30ft x 34ft original Star
Spangled Banner is on display.
It was raised over Baltimore in
1814 to mark a crucial victory over the
I was unfortunate enough to hit the
museum on a day when all
Washington’s schoolchildren seemed
to be visiting, so, after checking out
Muhammad Ali’s boxing glove, Judy
Garland’s ruby slippers from The
Wizard of Oz and Abe Lincoln’s life
mask – as well as listening to
Alexander Graham Bell’s voice from
1885 – I headed for my next stop, the
International Spy Museum.
There, I took on a false identity in a
Mission: Impossible adventure,
discovered that Mary Queen of Scots’
secret messages were revealed when
they were decoded, and explored a
world of dead drops, microdots and
lipstick pistols.
A current exhibition, 50 Years of
Bond Villains, marks a half-century
of 007 films and includes various
props and costumes.
The following day, I took the Metro
to the Crime Museum, which,
coincidentally, is close to both FBI HQ
and the Spy Museum. With Bonnie
and Clyde’s shot-up death car, a
“comfortable” Al Capone jail cell and
a Nashville electric chair, the exhibits
highlight crime – and punishment –
through the ages.
One gallery shows the police mug
shots of Frank Sinatra, Michael
Jackson and Mel Gibson, another tells
how you could be punished for
“wandering aimlessly” or “kissing on
the sabbath”, and a third gives you the
opportunity to test your powers of
observation at a crime scene.
As my hotel, the Embassy Row, was
close to the Dupont Circle station, I
was able to get to these various
attractions quite easily by Metro, but
I just walked to the Heurich House
Museum – or Brewmaster’s Castle – a
couple of blocks away.
Built between 1892 and 1894 by
self-made German immigrant
Christian Heurich, the “castle” was
the home of a man who, at 102,
became the world’s oldest brewer.
My final evening proved one to
remember. My (early) dinner was
at Plume restaurant in the
multi-award-winning Jefferson Hotel.
This was American fine-dining at its
very best, with exotic dishes (such as
beeswax-poached Skuna Bay salmon
and bison strip loin) served in classy,
tasteful surroundings.
Not being that knowledgeable
about wine, I was guided through the
meal by wine director Jennifer
Knowles, who oversees the largest
wine collection in Washington.
Then, as a football fan, it was on to
see the touring play Jumpers for
Goalposts at the Studio Theatre.
It features the sometimes sad,
sometimes comic struggles of a
mixed-sex, five-a-side team of three
gays, a lesbian and one straight guy
whose team, Barely Athletic, play in
an LGBT league in Hull. Wonder what
Jock Stein would have made of that?
■ United
Airlines (www.
08458 444 777)
fly from
Glasgow to
DC (via New
in September
from £606 (incl
■ One night
package at the
Embassy Row
Hotel (www.
001 202 265
1600) costs
from £90,
breakfast and
■ Check out
and www.
magnificent The Lincoln

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