A Day-Trip Most Magnificent

It seems like somebody in management thinks we haven’t had enough brain-stimulating discussions and alcohol-fuelled frivolity yet this week. They have thus decided to crank things up a notch and send us to Washington, DC. Not complaining.

Naturally, in the home of US politics, everything is bigger and better. For starters, the building is more impressive. We’re at the headquarters of the CATO Institute, reputedly one of DC’s swankiest think tanks, and the first impression of their new Gensler designed building did not disappoint. [photo below courtesy of Peter Cane Photography]

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The speakers were also first class. Inspirational people (with credentials worth killing for) from right at the heart of the libertarian movement. People like Tom G. Palmer, who’s name possibly doesn’t mean anything to you, but, for me, even sitting in the same room as him while he spoke was pretty damn cool! And let’s not forget the food. The kind folk at CATO had laid on an inter-lecture sandwich buffet that was a true exhibition of America’s sandwich-making at its finest. Round this off with giant cookies, half-baked to perfection, and you have the business lunch that dreams are made of.

After a good stuffing, they released us into the city, safe in the knowledge that the promise of free wine on our return would ensure that we didn’t get too lost. Having been on a short but all-encompassing tour of DC with my family last New Year, there wasn’t anything major that I felt I had a particularly unyielding need to see. DC is not the sort of place that you can ever get bored of, though, and just walking around the city with new friends, taking in the monumental buildings under a blue sky was a pretty perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Again, photos will do the place justice better than words, so let’s get to it. First stop, the Treasury Department. Lovely building (although somewhat average by DC standards), and guy on the plinth is Albert Gallatin, the longest-serving Secretary of the Treasury to date.

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Opposite the Treasury Department is the White House and its splendid back lawn.

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Here we all are smiling at the idea that Big O might be just behind those walls, naked.

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This is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is, apparently, not to everybody’s taste, and was once referred to by Mark Twain as the “ugliest building in America”. No comment.

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We quickly dashed past the Washington monument, which is still closed due to cracks which appeared after the 2011 earthquake.

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A jaunt down a lovely leafy street took us to the Old Post Office Building. I struggled to get it all in a picture at once due to the fact that it’s really big and really tall. Not bad for a building dedicated to the sorting of mail…

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… And a close up. Cause I like it.

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From the top you can get pretty good views of the whole city, my favourite vantage point being the one from which you can see the Capitol

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Finally, just as the heat of the afternoon and the lure of free wine back at CATO was becoming too much, we made a wee trip to Chinatown, notable because it’s got one of the most impressive archways of any Chinatown in the world.

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Back at CATO, we were presented our long-awaited vino along with a massive antipasto buffet, which was followed by a 3 course meal and a rousing speech about how George Washington was the saviour of all men and that the British were evil. This, in turn, was followed by mingling with the millionaire donors in the lobby. And more wine.

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All in all, a good day out. We then bussed it back to Towson and threw ourselves an after party. Naturally.

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