Washington 2009

And suddenly, while I still was at Castellón de la Plana studying as an Erasmus student, the news hit me like a lightning: my university back in Athens, the Panteion, was organizing an educational trip to Washington D.C.! We would visit the Newseum, a unique museum about the history of journalism, the CBS bureau, the Department of State headquarters, the Washington Post headquarters, and even get a taste of the Cherry Blossom Festival! That which seemed as a mere dream up to then, was suddenly becoming a tangible opportunity!

I held my breath for a moment and made an effort to visualize in my mind how could the United States’ capital look like. I certainly didn’t want to search for pictures or movies or whatever element could try to narrate me a visual story of how others see Washington D.C. Definitely not! This time I longed to embrace the city with all my five senses, without the need of a map or a travel guide. We would have a fixed program from our professor as well, who would accompany us to every place, so there was no need to worry about getting lost among the streets.

The first impression I got from the city was actually something totally unexpected for me. Washington D.C.´s buildings exude a European style air, with shades of red or brown brick buildings, that personally reminded me of some pictures I had seen of Dublin, Ireland. Tastefully spaced, with no trace of skyscraper anywhere and wide streets with low traffic, made me wonder: “But where do all these 8 million local people live?”. Obviously, it is a city laid out in space, a fact that gives it a more humane profile compared with other metropolis, along with its parks and gardens, and the Potomac River.

Five days are surely a short time to explore it from one side to the other, but long enough to get the general idea about it: Washington D.C. is a calm, well-organized and clean city where I could personally live, and the total opposite of New York, which was coming next in our trip…

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