Saturday, September 16, 2006

New York Tour - Day 1

Today we start our official tour of New York. After returning the Pontiac G6 to Alamo, we got ourselves an all-day Metro pass. First thing I wanted to visit is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yeah, that's me all right. Dad and I went in the museum, while my brother waited for his friend at the steps. Now, the Met is one of those museums where you can easily spend a whole day in. Unfortunately, I have only two hours, and I'm not paying 20 bucks "suggested admission fee" for only two hours to see two million works of art across two million square feet of exhibition space. I was told by a little bird that if you're too cheapo to pay full price, you can opt to make a "donation" to the musuem, and you still get the entry sticker. Yup, that's me again. The Met has quite a bit of history. It first opened in 1820 along Fifth Avenue, then moved to West 14th Street in 1873. It later acquired some land on the east side of Central Park, and that became its home till the present. The museum's permanent collection ranges from paintings and sculptures from European masters and American artists alike, special sections for Greek and Roman art, Asian art, Islamic art, medieval art, Egyptian art, extensive collection of arms and armour, musical instruments, etc. Currently on special exhibit is Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument - the "roof" being the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Personally, I think Chinese artists in general are getting quite a bit of exposure these days simply because of the novelty of it all. Anyway, the installation consists of four works:

  • Clear Sky Black Cloud - This seems to be the highlight of the exhibit. Every day at noon (except Mondays), a suite of three black-smoke shells are fired off, creating a black cloud in the city sky.
  • Transparent Monument - This one's my favourite. The work is simply a 15-foot-tall unframed glass pane, at the base of which lie some dead pigeons, obviously hitting the clear glass in mid-flight and causing their own deaths. Well, the only thing real about them are the feathers.
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here - This pair of open-mouthed crocodiles are obviously fakes, too. The life-sized crocs are skewered and propped up by bamboo poles, and their whole bodies bristling with hundred of sharp, dangerous items allegedly confiscated from airport security checkpoints - knives, screwdrivers, forks, switchblades, etc.
  • Nontransparent Monument - This is a 32-foot-long limestone relief with vignettes depicting life after 9/11, including scenes of bird flu, international festivals, same-sex marriage, terrorist hits, etc.
From Central Park, we took the subway to Grand Central Terminal (not to be confused with Chicago's Grand Central Station), where we had lunch at the food court (dining concourse) downstairs. Reminds me of the lunch we had recently at the food court of the Washington Union Station. The GCT is a tourist destination in itself. The main concourse is just cavernous - 120 feet wide, 375 feet long and 125 feet high. Those of you who have seen the movies Madagascar and Hackers would know how big it is. The ceiling is so high they were able to fit in a Redstone missle (vertically) in 1957. In erecting that missile, they had to cut a hole near Pisces, and that hole remained there ever since. If you're confused by the reference to Pisces, that was because I forgot to mention that on the ceiling of the main concourse is a mural of the New York sky with gilded stars and constellations. It was originally painted by French artist Paul César Helleu in 1912, and recently restored by cleaning away the years of grime and soot and smoke and plaster that accumulated. The cleaners apparently didn't do a good job because there's still an uncleaned patch above Michael Jordan's Steak House. Kidding aside, that's to remind people how bad the grime was.

More trivia for you: if you look at the constellations, you'll notice that they're painted backwards. It's possible that the painter's no good at reading sketches. A more plausible explanation is that the painting is based on a medieval manuscript that shows the sky as seen from outer space. Near the Oyster Bar & Restaurant at the dining concourse is the "whispering gallery". Due to the physics/acoustics of the low arched ceilings, people at either ends of the gallery entryway can hear each other perfectly, even if they're only whispering. It is also rumoured that underneath the GCT is a network of underground tunnels and tracks. By entering a secret entrance you gain access to a train platform and an elevator that goes straight up to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Our next subway stop takes us to the Wall Street area. Along Broad Street, we find the the neoclassical New York Stock Exchange building. Atop the six Corinthian columns is the pediment with John Quincy Adams Ward's sculpture called “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man”. Draped across the columns is a giant American flag. Along Wall Street, we find the Federal Hall National Monument with the bronze statue of Washington in front. The classical structure with its Doric columns and domed ceiling started life as New York City Hall in 1700. In 1789, it became the First Capitol of the United States. It later served as US' first Customs House, then a Federal Reserve Bank. In 1939, it was designated as Federal Hall Memorial, currently operating as a museum. Incidentally, this is where Washington was inaugurated as the first President.

At the end of Wall Street is the Trinity Church. Too bad I didn't even get the chance to take a glimpse of its interior, as our guide is walking quickly down Broadway. Down at the Bowling Green Park is the famous Charging Bull a.k.a. the Wall Street Bull. One caress of its bronze horns and you're sure to make a killing at the stock market. (That's not the only part of the bull that has become shiny with too much caressing, but we won't go into that.) Story goes that Arturo Di Modica created the 7000-lb. sculpture after the 1987 crash (at his own expense) and left it at the doors of NYSE building as a Christmas gift. The police wasn't happy with his "littering" and impounded the bull. The public wasn't happy with the police impounding the bull and raised a ruckus. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation had no choice but to re-install it at the Bowling Green Park. But now, time for more trivia. Turning right at Battery Place at the end of Broadway, you'll see a short, nondescript building along Greenwich Street. On the face of the building it says "BROOKLYN BATTERY TUNNEL - TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE & TUNNEL AUTHORITY". It's supposed to be the ventilation building for the tunnel, but (sotto voce) it's actually the MIB headquarters.

Going through the 21-acre (8.5 ha) Battery Park, we pass by Fritz Koenig's The Sphere. The metallic sculpture used to be located in the Austin Tobin Plaza between the World Trade Center towers. After the Sept. 11 attacks, it was recovered relatively unscathed, and now temporarily relocated along Eisenhower Mall in the northern section of The Battery. Just beside it is an eternal flame to commemmorate the victims of 9/11. Further on, we reach Castle Clinton where ferry tickets to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are sold. (For those who are interested to know, Castle Clinton is a low, circular sandstone fort built prior to the War of 1812 to protect the harbour from attacks.) The queue to the ferry dock is long and winding, but I'm not about to miss my date with Lady Liberty. After the requisite full security check, we're on our way to Liberty Island.

So this is how the immigrants felt when they first saw the Statue of Liberty looming closer in the distance. (I seriously have to go NOW! :-)) The moment we docked, everybody spilled out and rushed over to the statue to take pictures. Commonly known as the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Enlightening the World is a gift from the Paris-based Union Franco-Américaine (Franco-American Union) in 1886. Visitors to the island have a choice of a museum tour at the base of the monument or an observatory tour for the best views of the NY harbour. I did neither because half an hour later, I was already on the ferry to Ellis Island. Main attraction of the island is the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. If you've seen the movie Hitch, this is where the man took the girl after a day of jetskiing for some ancestor-hunting. Outside the building is an "American Immigrant Wall of Honor". You would think this is where they list all the immigrants that passed through Ellis Island. Wrong, because for as little as $150, you could put your family name on the wall as well.

Back at Battery Park, it's a short walk to the World Trade Center Ground Zero. Five years after the event, I'm a bit saddened to see people walking around the site holding placards, still looking for their missing loved ones. Attached to the metal fences surrounding the contruction area are flags, flowers, pictures, baseball caps, and other memorabilia. At the entrance of the WTC PATH Subway Station is a photo exhibit chronicling the events on that fateful day. There's even a guy there giving a very detailed narrative of what happened, complete with facts and figures. That guy sure knows how to tell a good story - everyone was bunched around him, hanging to his every word. Pressed for time, we moved on to St. Paul's Chapel, which is just across the east side of the World Trade Center. The little chapel's claim to fame is that it didn't suffer any damage during the 9/11 attack, not even a broken window. (Some say it's a miracle.) Due to its proximity to the disaster site, the chapel became a place of rest for the recovery crew, who were working shifts non-stop. Volunteers also used the place as a relief center, working 12-hour shifts to make beds, serve meals, offer prayers and counseling, etc. The chapel is now back to its regular religious duties, although it's now also a tourist attraction. It still retains most of the memorial banners and memorabilia people left behind. There's an extensive audio/video history of the inspiring event, and even a huge roll of paper where visitors could write down their dedication. I spied a few people sobbing quietly in the pews, and I knew it was time to leave.

Taking the subway to Times Square, we spent most of the late afternoon gawking at the billboards ads of upcoming TV shows and theater plays and scrolling displays of text ads and stock quotes. I don't mind having a bit of art and culture, but I really don't have time to watch a Broadway hit even if it's at half-price. Too bad. Dinner is at Ollie's Noodle Shop. Despite the prime location and trendy interiors, I can assure you this is an authentic Chinese restaurant. For one, the staff doesn't care about customer service. You sit down at the table, and the waitress slams plates, chopsticks, and teacup in front of you, without much of an excuse me. Just the way I like it. Table too big? No problem. Before you can say yes, please do join us, there's already another party of four seated across the table. For our after-dinner entertainment, we walked over to the Rockefeller Center. The Rockefeller Plaza is such a nice place to simply hang out. Sitting on the steps of the plaza, you can see the outdoor dining area at the Lower Plaza. There's the colorful water fountains with Paul Manship's sculpture of Prometheus. Behind him is the white 70-storey 266-meter GE Building rising all the way up to the night sky. At the plaza is a stone plaque with this long quote, which my brother liked a lot:

  • I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty
  • I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master.
  • I believe in the Dignity of labour, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a liking but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
  • I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs.
  • I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.
  • I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a mans word should be as good as his bond; that character not wealth or power or position - is of supreme worth.
  • I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
  • I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individuals highest fulfilment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His Will.
  • I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.
After digesting our food, we walked back to Times Square. Passed by Toys "R" Us, and we just had to go in and take a look. This flagship store is the biggest toy store in the whole world (multi-level, 110,000 square feet). Highlights include a 60-ft working indoor Ferris wheel and a 20-ft high, 34-ft long animatronic T-Rex. With that, we end the day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Albert Goes to New York

Out of habit, we woke up late again. As usual, we have our late breakfast of cereals, donuts, and fruit juices. Ah, breakfast of champions. Went down to Alamo Union Square to pick up a rental car for our trip to New York. For $40, we have a choice between the PT Cruiser and the Pontiac G6 GT coupe. If you've seen a PT Cruiser before, you would know that this is an easy decision.

Drove down to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial for a quick visit. It's a nice, quiet little place with lots of sculptures, engravings on walls, and water features. The 7.4-acre park is dedicated to the memory of FDR, who served four terms as President from 1933 - 1945. Those are not easy years to be a President - what with the Great Depression and the Second World War, but I guess FDR did ok. I quite like the sculpture of a caped FDR with his dog Fala. And also the sculpture of 4 guys depicting a Great Depression bread line. People would fall in line and have their pictures taken.

With no time to lose, we drove to the other side of the Tidal Basin to visit Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Designed by John Russell Pope, and dedicated on April 13, 1943 (Jefferson's 200th birthday), the neoclassical building is defined by some marble steps, a portico, and a dome. Inside the open-air memorial is a 19-foot tall, 5-ton bronze sculpture of Thomas Jefferson done by Rudulph Evans. On the walls, are selected passages from Jefferson's writings. From the memorial, one gets a nice view of the Washington Monument.

Again, due to lack of time, we have to content ourselves with a drive-by of the National Mall, and off to NY we go. It's a good thing the state highways are wide, and there are not too many cars on the road. Having left Manila for almost three years, I've grown accustomed to Sydney's right-hand drive on the left side of the street. It's not really a big problem, just that I tend to drift over to the right side of the lane. After an hour's driving, I'm doing 80-90 mph and straight as an arrow. The drive is long and boring. Even with my shades and the sun visor down, the glare is still too much, making me tired and sleepy. Good thing the Pontiac G6 has wheel-mounted radio controls, so I was switching stations every 5 minutes to keep me awake.

As we were nearing New York, it started raining cats and dogs. By the time we reached Lincoln Tunnel around 5pm, traffic is at a standstill. By the time we hit 42nd Street at 6pm, all the cars and cabs are out (and stuck), horns are blaring, and people with umbrellas are jaywalking everywhere. The traffic police in their orange raincoats are out in force, but it's not helping much. For some crazy reason, this chaotic scene has a calming effect on me. Ah, reminds me what I have to go through every night in Manila. The only difference is that here, people actually use the turn signal (for a couple of seconds) before cutting in front of you. Despite the music halls, the theaters, and Times Square, all we want is a cheap place to park the car. We would've spent a few more minutes joyriding if not for the fact that one of us really have to go after being stuck in the car for one whole afternoon. So the next blue P sign we saw, we just swung the car in. Judging by the cars already parked, this is not a cheapo place. Yup, $15 for half an hour, $25 for an hour, and $30 for 2 hours. To add insult to injury, its washroom is not as clean was we wanted. We grabbed some quick bite from a nearby coffee shop, and away we go. Going north to south and back, we travelled along First, Second, and Third Streets, checking out New York's nightscapes. As it is still drizzling, we decided to head back for Flushing and check in Comfort Inn. Given its distance from New York central, I'm surprised we're still paying $170 per night. You get free off-street parking though. Fortunately for us, it's off-season for the nearby Flushing Meadows, or else. At this time of night, our only food choices are the Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants down the road. As I've mentioned before, if you're hungry, everything tastes superb.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Washington, DC Tour - Day 2

We were so tired from yesterday's tour we woke up quite late. By the time we went to the breakfast area, the staff is already cleaning the tables and packing the food away. Good thing there's a box of donuts left. Yum! To get to the National Mall, again it's a bus ride from Arlington to Pentagon, then take the Metro to Union Station. It was raining the whole morning, so I didn't get the chance to take some outdoor shots of the Union Station. First landmark we visited is the Supreme Court building. The Supreme Court has quite a bit of history. The first session of the Supreme Court convened on February 1, 1790, but it was not until 146 years later when it was provided with its own building. Architech Gilbert Cass chose to give the building a Neoclassical look from ancient Rome. The cornerstone was laid on October 13, 1932 and construction completed in 1935. Out of $9,740,000 allotted by Congress, $94,000 was returned to the Treasury. Now that's a miracle!

The main entrance of the Supreme Court building is on the west side, facing the Capitol Building. Flanking the main steps to the entrance are two seated figures by sculptor James Earle Fraser. On the left is the Contemplation of Justice. On the right is the Guardian or Authority of Law. The facade of the building uses marble quarried from Vermont. Sixteen Corinthian columns support the western pediment or portico. If you look closely, you'll see words "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW" engraved on the architrave. You'll also see a sculpture set done by Robert Aiken representing Liberty seated in a throne and guarded by figures who represent Order and Authority. On either side are groups of three figures representing Council and Research.

What most people don't know and don't see is the east side of the Supreme Court building. Above the columns are the words "JUSTICE THE GUARDIAN OF LIBERTY" inscribed on the architrave. The sculptures on the eastern pediment are done by Herman A. McNeil, representing three great lawmakers: Moses, Confucius, and Solon, flanked by symbolic groups representing Means of Enforcing the Law, Tempering Justice with Mercy, Settlement of Disputes Between States, and Maritime and other functions of the Supreme Court. There was a bit of controversy when the sculptures were first unveiled as they have some religious connotations. (Yeah, as if In God We Trust doesn't). MacNeil was able to get out of that one by explaining that, "Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The 'Eastern Pediment' of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East." Nice one, dude.

Entering the bronze doors, you get to the Great Hall with two rows of marble columns rising up to the ceiling and busts of former Chief Justices displayed along the walls. At the end of the Hall is the Court Chamber. Some bits of interesting trivia: its walls and friezes are of Ivory Vein marble from Alicante, Spain; and its floor borders are Italian and African marble. For the Courtroom's 24 columns, Gilbert felt that only the ivory buff and golden Siena marble from the Old Convent Quarry near Liguria, Italy will do. So he wrote to Benito Mussolini for his assistance in acquiring some. Another interesting feature of the building is the self-supporting elliptical staircase designed by Cass Gilbert. I quote from the board on the wall: "Each of the two staircases has 136 steps that complete seven spirals while ascending five stories from the basement. The cantilevered desing of the staircases alleviates the need for a central support. Each step is anchored into the marble wall on one and and rests upon the step below it. The steps, therefore, are held in place by fit and pressure." And what do we have on the fourth floor? A basketball court, also known as "the highest court in the land."

After the rain has weakened a bit, we rushed to the Library of Congress. Sounds a bit boring, but I tell you, the architecture inside the Library is awesome. If you have enough time to join the guided tour, I strongly suggest you take it. A little history first. The Library of Congress was first established by an act of Congress in 1800. Established with $5,000 appropriated by legislation, it was housed in various spaces in the new Capitol from 1800 until August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building, burning and pillaging the contents of the small (3000-volume) library. Within a month, former President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library of 50 years as a replacement. In January 1815, Congress accepted Jefferson's offer, appropriating $23,950 for his 6,487 books, and the foundation was laid for a great national library. With the introduction of the copyright law of 1870, which required all copyright applicants to send to the Library two copies of their work, the Library experienced a shortage of shelf space. Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford convinced Congress of the need for a new building, which Congress authorized in 1886. And thus, the Thomas Jefferson Building came into being.

Now, on with the tour. From the ground floor where the Visitor Center is, we take the stairs to the first floor. Normally, the main entrance to the first floor would be through three 3.5-ton double bronze doors, depicting Tradition, Writing and Printing. Nowadays, these are opened only for special occasions. We now find ourselves in the West Corridor or Entrance Vestibule. Take a close look at the ceiling, and wish that parts of it fall down, as that's real 23 karat gold leaf. Around the edge of the ceiling are 8 pairs of statues by Herbert Adams; each pair consisting of a Minerva or War and a Minerva of Peace.

Once in the Great Hall, you'll know this is the centerpiece of the Library. The flooring is of whiteItalian marble. In the middle of the floor is a large brass inlay shaped like a sun. The ceiling is 75 feet high and decorated with stained-glass skylights. Flanking the Great Hall are two grand staircases embellished with sculptures of cherubs by Philip Martiny. These putti represent the various occupations, habits and pursuits of "modern life." Halfway up the railing are cherubs represnting Asia and Europe (on the north side) and Africa and America (on the south side). Upon the newel post at the base is a bronze female figure wearing drapes and carrying a torch of knowledge.

At the center of the east side of the Great Hall is the Commemorative Arch. Above the arch are the words LIBRARY OF CONGRESS written in gold, in case people get lost. Beyond the Commemorative Arch is the East Corridor. The East Corridor features a vaulted ceiling covered with mosaics honoring Americans and their achievements in a variety of professions: painting, poetry, engineering, natural philosophy, architecture, natural science, music, sculpture and astronomy. Here, you'll notice two glass cases on either side of the corridor. These cases contain the treasures of the Library: the three-volume Gutenberg Bible (only one of three perfect vellum copies in existence) and the Giant Bible of Mainz. Understandably, no photography is allowed. On to the second floor, it's more marble floors, mosaic portraints, paintings, etc. There's another staircase which leads to a visitors' gallery from which you can view the cavernous Main Reading Room. Again, no photography allowed, so as not the distract the people below. I could go on and on and on, but we really have to move on. Also, at this point my camera batteries ran out.

Next up is the Capitol. The Capitol Building is quite easy to identify. It's the white building atop Capitol Hill at the end of the National Mall with the Neoclassical dome, the rotunda, and the two wings, one for each chamber of Congress: the north wing is the Senate chamber and the south wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Fearing that we might destroy the building with our cookies and potato chips and bottled water, the security staff asked us to dispose of them before we enter the site. The place is pretty busy and crowded. Amidst all the tourists and tour groups and security people and building staff, we lost our way. Apart from the Congress chambers, there's really not much else to see. You can't loiter around too long because the place is not a museum, and the security people tell you to keep on moving. We inquired about the central dome, and was told that it's not open to walk-in tourists today, and that we need to join a tour tomorrow. Since this is our last day in Washington, the security lady took pity on us and pointed us to a stairway that leads to the dome. The rotunda is bigger than I imagined - 96 feet in diameter and 180 feet in height. Right in the middle of the concave canopy is a fresco called The Apotheosis of Washington painted by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865. It shows Washington rising up to heaven and becoming a god. Just below the belt of 36 windows is the Frieze of American History - not really a frieze with bas reliefs, but a frescoed panorama of selected 19 scenes from American history. Brumidi started work on the scenes in 1878. After Brumidi's death, Filippo Costaggini continued the work, following Brumidi's sketches. I was able to only take two pictures before we were noticed by a security guard, and were requested to leave the place.

Next stop is the Lincoln Memorial, which is a leisurely walk from Capitol Hill. The Lincoln Memorial's architecture is in the form of a Greek Doric temple with 36 columns surrounding the central chamber. Inside is a massive sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln done by Daniel Chester French using white Georgia marble. It is 19 feet tall and 19 feet wide. On the wall above the statue is the following inscription:

On the south wall is inscribed the Gettysburg Address, while the north wall carries his second inaugural address. Trivia time: If you look closely at the second inaugural address, there's actually a typo - EUTURE instead of FUTURE.

Just a few meters away is the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Within the memorial triangle are 19 stainless steel statues of soldiers on patrol - 15 Army, 2 Marines, 1 Navy Medic, and 1 Air Force Observer. On one side of the memorial is a 164-foot long black granite wall with photographic images sandblasted into the wall. Very nice effect. You have to stand further a bit to really see the images. Right in front of the soldiers is a plaque inscribed with the message: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met 1950 - Korea - 1953".

On the other side of the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It's basically made up of three structures - the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, the Vietnam Women's Memorial, and the Three Soldiers statue. The Wall is made up of two long granite walls (75 meters long and 3 meters high) placed at an angle of 125 degress to each other. On them are inscribed the names of all the servicemen who fought in the Vietnam War - 58,249 names as of 2005. One little known fact is that the memorial is actually designed by a student of Chinese ancestry by the name of Maya Lin. She was then an architecture student at Yale University, and designed the wall as a class project. Out of 1,421 entries for the design competition, hers was chosen, but her name was not even mentioned in the dedication ceremony because of her Asian heritage, which was a sensitive issue then.

Just nearby is The Three Soldiers (a.k.a. The Three Servicement). That bronze sculpture also has its share of controversy. It was commissioned as a result of the negative reactions to Maya Lin's original design. The protesters didn't like the fact that Lin's concept doesn't look like a traditional war memorial - no bronze statues, no patriotic writings. To appease the protesters, Frederick Hart (who placed third in the original competition), was asked to design the statue. Naturally, it was Lin's turn to feel displeased that her design was adulterated without her permission. She refused to attend the statue's dedication on Veteran's Day, 1984. The Three Soldiers depicts three young men (White American, Black American, and Hispanic), looking at the wall from a distance. South of the Wall is the Women's Memorial, dedicted to the women who served in the Vietnam War. It was designed by Glenna Goodacre and dedicated on November 11, 1993.

Would've been nice to spend the rest of the day exploring all those museums on the National Mall - the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History, etc. Unfortunately, it started raining even harder, so we have no choice but to go back to the hotel and call it a day.