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Adventures in DC: Day Two – Touring by Trolley

After attempting to catch up on some much needed rest, Russ and I ate some snacks we had packed, grabbed some coffee and moved our luggage to the Madison Hotel. For those of you wondering why we’d be in two hotels… it was due to some scheduling conflicts at the time our reservations were being made.

The Madison is very classy and many special finishing touches… a leather massage chair in the room, heated towel bars, a coffee maker that brewed various coffees and teas – one cup at a time, and most noticeable – excellent, helpful staff. I was rather surprised when I stood up to put my coat on – and two of the doormen rushed over to help me with it. You just don’t see that anymore… ever?

We decided to ask the concierge what his suggestions would be for sight seeing on a limited schedule and budget. He was the most helpful, patient and knowledgeable person we’ve ever encountered at a hotel. Not only did he offer maps, directions and recommendations on where we could catch a good meal – he personally escorted us over to the place where we could catch the bus for a trolley tour.

The day wasn’t any warmer or less windy that the prior – so the concierge easily talked us into a tour of DC via trolley. It was a terrific choice. The bus took us to a central location on 10th Street where we had two route options. We chose to head out on the Green Loop first – heading for The National Cathedral, Uptown and Georgetown. Along the way, the driver narrated all sorts of interesting bits of trivia.

When we got off the trolley at the Cathedral, we figured we’d spend about an hour there. Little did we realize it was so fascinating – we’d spend most of the afternoon there! Washington National Cathedral is the sixth largest cathedral in the world and the second largest in the United States. There are so many fascinating facts – I can’t possible write about them all. Read them all here!

We entered just as they were about to start the Holy Eucharist service, which Russ decided to attend. Meanwhile, I explored a small museum on the history on the Cathedral’s construction. I also visited the seventh floor observation area, where one can take in quite an expansive view of downtown Washington.

Immediately following the service, there was short talk about the Cathedral’s 10,650-pipe organ followed by a mini-recital of some classical music. WOW! I can’t even describe THAT! Following the performance, we wandered about for some photography. One of the stained glass windows actually contains a small piece of moon rock brought back by the crew of Apollo 11.

Much to our surprise, the museum store downstairs was larger than we could have ever imagined! After wandering about for much too long, we decided to eat our lunch quickly at the snack counter there and head back out to catch a trolley. We could have easily spent the day there and missed the rest of the tour!

The trolley took us past the Naval Observatory (I synched my watch to the huge clock outside), which also where the Vice President’s residence is also located. The driver told us to keep vigilant as we drove by – just in case Mr. Cheney was shooting skeet that day… We traveled along Massachusetts Avenue, through an area known as Embassy Row where we truly lost count of the countries represented just on this one street alone!

The tour continued through was Georgetown, one of the oldest neighborhoods in DC. There are some gorgeous 200-year old homes beautifully restored there, and lots of shopping. We didn’t get out to stroll around, but I could see how one could easily spend a day enjoying this area.

We also drove past a bar where John Kennedy proposed to Jackie, the Watergate Complex, the hospital where Ronald Reagan was taken to when he was shot, and so on… it seemed the list was endless!

Arriving back at the trolley transfer area on 10th Ave. (located right next to the Ford Theater where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated – but currently closed for renovation) – we switched to the other trolley route. We drove past some landmarks like the National Archives, Chinatown, the Capitol, and stopped briefly at Union Station.

I hopped out and went inside Union Station just to take a glance at it. Someone told me later it used to be taken over by the homeless at one point – until it was renovated. It has very impressive architecture. Until I did a little research about it, I didn’t realize it is the most visited site in all of Washington, D.C.

The trolley continued along where most of the Smithsonian museums were located, and around the outskirts of the National Mall, past the Jefferson Memorial. I could clearly see why folks visit in the springtime when the hundreds of cherry trees and magnolias are in bloom…

Since we were the only people on the trolley – the driver was kind enough to take us right back to the front door of our hotel. It was time to get ready for the National Geographic ADVENTURE celebrations!

The Celebration itself will be my next post. Stay tuned!

This link to ADVENTURE’s website will provide you with videos clips for most of the Adventurers we were about to meet…


  1. Donna Maurillo says:

    I also love the National Cathedral… the organ recitals are inspiring. Next time, get to the National Archives, where you can spend hours and hours checking genealogy and census records. It was like opening a jewel box! Also loved the Smithsonian and the National Gallery. It’s all more for your next trip! I’ll be there in a couple of weeks, but it won’t be fun… all business. And with the inauguration coming up a few days after I leave there, I know the city will be a mess.

  2. We did go into the Archives on Day Three (that will come up in my next post) – but only had about an hour or so. We did the obvious and saw the Declaration of Independence and the main documents. You could LIVE in there… Russ and I just looked at each other and realized there’s no way to see the Archives even in a day.

    Good luck with the trip. We will hopefully go back someday with the boys, when it’s much warmer and we have more time. You just can NOT see DC in three days!

  3. Margaret Cloud says:

    What a very interesting post and I liked the history. I would like some day to take that Trolley tour, glad to see you enjoyed it, the pictures are nice, hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  4. Hi Stacey, I just read your Day 1 and Day 2 recap of your visit to Washington, D.C.

    I love your photos (of course) but it is extra special to me since the nation’s Capitol is my native city.

    It is refreshing to see it through your eyes and yes, it’s beautiful and unique.

    Your blog entries are also a reminder that tho the city is my “home town,” I really ought to go out and take advantage of its amazing sites!

    I regret I did not meet you at the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year celebration. It was an inspirational event.

    Happy New Year,

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