DC: Staying with a NASA engineer

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We did quiet some searching for couches in Washington, DC, but still didn’t manage to find a host. In the end, I posted an Open Couch Request, a rather new tool on Couchsurfing. Before it was invented, people who did not find a couch often posted their travel plans into groups. Many group administrators did not like those posts and special couch search groups were established. So, to help couchless people find couches, a special tool was installed that shows open couch requests on top of every users starting screen.

This way, we found Juan and his sister Veronica. They both were very busy on our arrival day, so we had agreed upon arriving only after 9.30 pm and had some generous breaks on the way. Amongst others, we visited Berkeley Springs, America’s first spa. It’s a cute little town where even George Washington stopped by to relish the natural thermal water at the local bath house.

Juan arrived after 11.30 pm, when we already getting ready for bed. Our conversation thus was limited to a “Hi, how was your day/journey?” and “Good night”. The next day, Veronica offered to take us with her into the city. She works at Georgetown hospital as a researcher. On the Washington DC group, we had found a guy from Boston who was looking for company to do some sightseeing, and we had agreed on meeting with him nearby the White House. Veronica dropped us off only 2 streets from there – perfect!

After meeting up with the guy from Boston, we spent 7 hours just walking from one end of the Mall to the other, paying a visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial and so on. It’s just incredible how many memorials and museums there are to be seen. Later that day, after the Air and Space Museum, we met up for a drink and a snack with some other Couchsurfers who were going to a Basketball game that night. When Veronica was finished with work, she picked us up again and we drove home. Josef had promised to prepare Kaiserschmarrn, so after shopping we started cooking. Veronica did a Puerto Rican dish called “tostones”, which is basically twice fried plantains with a special seasoning. It was yummy!

On our second day in Washington, we could again use Veronica as our “bus”, and went to Georgetown with her. After having breakfast in some café there, we walked over Key Bridge to Arlington Cemetery, visited John F. and Jackie Kennedy’s memorial, Iwo Jima memorial and Arlington  House and watched the Change of the Guard at the Unknown Soldier’s memorial. Via Arlington Memorial Bridge we then went back to DC and visited the memorials we missed the day before: Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Jefferson Memorial.

Just a piece of advice to everybody who is planning on visiting Washington in the next weeks (or months): the Washington Memorial is closed, so you can’t go up to get a view of the city. If you want to get the view, go to the old US Post Office Building on Pennsilvania Avenue. You can go up the bell tower and the view is great 🙂