It took me several attempts to get this one right.
My first trip to Washington DC occurred in early
1994, when I was there for a job interview. At
the time, being from various small towns of northeast
Texas, I had never really driven in any place
large enough to respectfully call itself a "big
city". However, I knew enough about Dallas
to know that if you miss your turn, don't panic--just
take the next exit and go back. That works great
here in Dallas, where the roads make sense (though
out-of-towners will no doubt disagree :) ). In
DC, however, this corrective course of action
really doesn't work at all, as I discovered within
the 5 minutes it took me to miss an exit on my
way from the airport to my hotel! To this day,
I have no idea how I managed to get myself so
thoroughly lost in so short a period of time.
After initially ending up on the wrong road, I
began taking exit after exit, trying to find a
way to turn back and "undo" my mistake.
However, each exit led me, not to a place to turn
around, but instead to another road, then another,
and another. Finally, as it was starting to get
dark, I gave up and asked directions. It took
me over two hours to find my hotel on what was
supposed to be a 20 minute drive from the Dulles
airport. After that, I didn't go anywhere I didn't
have to for the remainder of the trip!
I traveled again to Washington DC in late 1994
for training. This time, someone who lived there
was supposed to give me the grand tour (which
I hadn't dared do on my own the first trip since
I had so much trouble driving!). Unfortunately,
our schedules really never worked out, and although
I saw a few interesting places, it wasn't until
my final trip that I truly made peace with this
city and decided I liked it after all.
My most recent trip to Washington DC occurred
in 1996, about a month before I left for Iceland.
This time, I discovered the "key" to
this city: "Public transportation is your
friend". Although rail systems have never
quite caught on here in Dallas, I had no trouble
figuring out the one in Washington DC. Finally,
at long last, I was able maneuver around enough
to appreciate all the many things there are to
see here. At the top of my "don't miss"
list would be three of the Smithsonian museums--the
Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History,
and the Holocaust Museum, and, of course, to walk
around and look at (and tour if you can get in)
the various government buildings like the Capital,
White House, etc. One thing is for sure, now that
I have somewhat "figured out" this city,
I can't wait to go back and show it to someone