We arrived in Washington DC on Saturday. The International Aids Conference began here on Sunday.
Apparently my trip planning leaves a lot to be desired.
I'm told conference attenders are occupying 55,000 of the city's hotel rooms till Thursday, which is why accommodation prices are high and why we are staying in Silver Spring, Maryland, rather than in DC itself.
We are a 20-minute walk from the Metro, and then a 30-minute ride from town, but I've decided to embrace the situation with the enthusiasm of Pollyanna (before she falls out of the tree and gets all down on the world).
I still enjoy trains. I grew up in Karori, Wellington - buses were our thing, so I'm not like the Johnsonville kids who were probably over the trains by the time they got to their second term of college. Incidentally, Nathan was one of those northern suburb children. He is not quite so Pollyanna-themed about the Metro.
The Open Top, hop on hop off bus tour we did yesterday was pretty packed, but we both had seats, so crowds weren't really a problem. And we have good tactics (pushing in), so managed to get to the front at each stop to get back on.
We went on a Bike and Roll tour of the city's monuments last night, and it was amazing how many people were still lined up to get photos at the Lincoln Memorial well past 9pm. Getting a photo at those places means joining a dozen other posers and smiling into a crowd of flashing cameras, hoping your cameraman can see you. If you like pretending, this may be the closest you get to having your own paparazzi.
This is not the first time we've hit a city when the rest of the world also seems to be visiting. We spent Memorial Day in Las Vegas. Walking up and down the Strip was near impossible (avoiding those guys handing out cards with naked women on them actually was impossible), but the overcrowding there contributed to the party atmosphere.
The dinner cruise we did in Chicago on July 4 was great, getting to and from Navy Pier - apparently the hub for holiday celebrations - not so much. I spent half an hour on a bus pressed against the rather large chest of a pretty sweaty woman. Not cool.
Has anyone else ever accidentally hit major public holidays, or events during their travels?
As well as landing in cities on public holidays, the fact that we have done most of our traipsing around in the middle of summer has also meant a good deal more foot traffic.
In New York we were on an On Location movie tour, and the tour guide helpfully pointed out how busy the city was."... And that's where you take the boat to the Statue of Liberty. Oh my god, is that the line for the Statue of Liberty? That's HUGE! Look how far back it goes, and it's not even late yet. That's intense! And it's so hot, I hope they all have water because they are going to cook ... has everyone been to the Statue of Liberty?"
Unhappy tourists look up at her, clearly ready to shoot the messenger, and shake their heads.
"Oh ... Maybe the line will be shorter tomorrow."
It wasn't. We spent a good hour in that queue.
I'm fascinated by lines over here. Americans seem to be very patient, and don't do the same double-takes I do when I see a ridiculous number of people waiting in line.
We were trying to get Nathan a coffee at Starbucks yesterday morning, but gave up when we saw a line that curled around the shop, and out the door several metres.
That is not uncommon; at Disneyland there was a 25-minute wait for corn dogs.
Barring a few notable exceptions (KFC double down, I'm looking at you), I don't think New Zealanders queue up like this for food.
If it was me, I'd just go and find another food place. Are other people the same? How long are you willing to stand in line for?
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