Alright … this is what we learn about getting around Washington DC. Please feel free to chip in if you have anything readers should know about. After all, what do Suanne and I know right …. since we were only in Washington DC for just a few days.
Two things we find so indispensable is a good street map of Washington DC and a Metro Guide. For the first few days we go from one place to another using Washington DC’s subway which they call the Metro Rail or Metro in short. Actually Metro is used to refer to both Metro Rail and MetroBus. You can get the Metro Guide from most subway stations. For street maps, you can get it from the various tourist info center, museums … just about anywhere.
To us, the fares structure were kind of confusing and complex. Fares are basically charged depending on the time of the day and the distance traveled. The lowest fare is about $1.60. They do have what they call the “1-Day Pass” which costs $7.80 which allows you unlimited travel during the day … but … can only be used after 9:30AM. We like to start our days early and thought the 1-Day Pass is too limiting.
So, we bought a FareCard from the machines. It basically works like a cash card. You can buy any amount you want — we bought $10 worth of travel. The amount is deducted from your card each time you exit a station. You can top up the amount if you run low for the next trip.
All the stations looked the same in Washington DC. They all have that classical DC architecture style where the ceilings have sunken panels. I am not sure what it is that people in DC like so much about sunken panels. Just about every building we go to we see sunken panels.
Despite the picture, the stations are all very dark. We like that except we find it hard to read our maps inside the station. It is spacious and the Metro is not busy … at least it is not as packed as those in New York. They have about the cleanest subway we had ever seen … comfortable and clean … and most importantly, we felt safe.
Washington DC is a planned city and designed from the ground up to serve as the capital of the United States. They are laid out along the general design of what you see in Paris … you get wide boulevards radiating from a certain point out in several directions.
The map above is kind of hard to see but you can click on it to get a blown up view. Most of everything you need to see is located in the green patches you see which is referred to as the National Mall. This is where most of the museums, memorials and also the White House and the US Capitol located. Despite the simplicity of the map, note that the National Mall is very long. One generally will not walk from one end to another.
But still Washington DC is a very walkable city — it is flat although very vast and sprawly. We walked … a lot. If the distance is further, we take the Metro.
You won’t get lost in Washington DC at all. The roads are very simple and there are lots of signs to help you orientate yourself, especially when you get out of the subway stations. The signs also point the way to the nearest Metro stations.
We stayed in a hotel call The Liaison. It is located just 3-5 minutes walk from the US Capitol and an equal distance from the busy Union Station. We were quite pleased with the hotel especially we got it for less than $100 per night.
Although this is a 3-star hotel, we really like the way they run the hotel. Right after we booked the rooms, we got an email from them asking us to customize our stay. They pointed us to their website and among others they asked that we can choose the pillows we wanted.
This is what we so like about the stay in The Liaison. They have a menu of 6 different types of pillows to choose from. Now, why did other hotels not think of this?
Despite that we were given a total of 12 pillows in the room. Nice huh?
The room were very clean and most important to us, it is smoke free. What we love most was that they made us sign a note that we will NOT smoke or we will be charged something like $200 or so. This is the kind of hotel we love.
The bathroom is spacious and spotless …
The complimentary coffee was pretty good too. However, all other things are pretty expensive. For instance, the 1/2 liter drinking water costs $4.
The killer was the parking which costs almost $50 per day!! We rented a car for two of the days we were in DC. Good thing we found out that the neighboring building has an underground car park which allows overnight parking for $10. Saved us quite a bit of money.