big, Bigger, BIGGEST…

The White House

The White House

Have you ever visited the United States of America?  As an Australian I always imagined the USA would be similar to my home country – similar culture, similar cities, similar people…Mmmmmm I think that we speak English is where the comparison stops!

I finally had the chance to visit (and I am composing this post in a hotel room in Washington DC – the country’s capital).  Firstly, having traveled from Europe I was suffering jet lag – so did not feel as good as I normally do.  Then my luggage was delayed (by 3days-but that is a different post!) – so again I was more emotional than I would normally be – then I started to be a tourist…

Washington DC (and I can only comment on this city, as it is the only one I have visited so far on this holiday) is a superlatives over-user’s dream!

From the tiny airplane that we disembarked from, we climbed into massive people mover tanks, that were bigger than any airport bus I had ever seen!  They are similar to moving shopping centres!

Space-craft (esk) people movers

BIG people movers

Then I arrived in the enlarged arrivals hall where there were literally thousands (1000’s) of bags – with no owners…

I was in this hall for longer than I anticipated, however once out I walked into the heavy air and was grateful to sit in taxi – that due to its size was like a limousine!

That night I slept like the dead and then went on the tourist trail of the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the reflection pool, the Washington monument and Capitol Hill.

WOW! This place over stimulated all my senses and I just couldn’t find all the adjectives to describe it!  I was (and am) lost for words!

Moving onto New York City (NYC) I thought I would be just as overwhelmed as in Washington DC.  However The BIG apple was less intimidating than the capital city.

NYC was at the least amazing and at the most awe inspiring – this city truly did allow you to believe that anything and everything is possible.  Everything was still big – Central Park is big, the skyscrapers are big, the characters you meet on the street are big, however NYC is seemingly more contained and manageable than Washington.

Central Park and Skyscrapers

Central Park and Skyscrapers

America was an amazing eye opener and it made me appreciate Europe and all those small things that I sometimes take for granted!

Is there an experience you had, that you want to describe?  Please do so here, I would like to hear about it…

Pictures thanks to D&S photos

30 thoughts on “big, Bigger, BIGGEST…

  1. Without doubt, travelling broadens the mind. I travelled to Canada and the USA some years ago with some friends. We really had a great time. We found Canada an incredibly safe country. Canadians are friendly and everything is neat and tidy, British-like I would say. We spent Christmas and New Year in New York, which we loved doing. We were able to prove that NY is a cosmopolitan city. After NY we went to Boston, where by following their “red line” we were able to see lots of historical landmarks. After that, we went to Washington, where we saw all the memorials covered on snow and we ended our trip in Miami, on the beach!!! It was the trip of a lifetime full of anecdotes and funny incidents.
    I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I did mine!
    Marisa (@Mtranslator)

  2. Hi Shelly and Marisa,

    Thank you so much for responding to this post.

    @Shelly – Please use it in your class and keep me posted on how it goes. Also, if your students would like to comment, too, after then activity I would be more than happy to have their comments on the blog!

    @Marisa – That sounds like an amazing trip – and what a wonderful time to travel. I think Winter brings a magic to places that Summer just doesn’t offer (Washington DC was extremely hot – and sometimes so much so I couldn’t drink coffee!SHOCK!). Will look forward to seeing you on Twitter!

    Shonah 🙂

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  4. Enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more… It is always fun to read what other people say about one’s own country. I was at JFK a couple days ago and was amazed by the people mover as well–didn’t even know they existed. (Since I just returned to the USA after having lived abroad for over a decade, I guess I’m experiencing some reverse culture shock…)

  5. Hi Holly,

    Thank you so much for your reply and reverse culture shock IS a big thing…take your time and I always find breathing helps!

    Enjoy your assimilation back into America and if you want to share any of your comparisons between Northern Europe and your home country please feel free to make a comment 🙂

  6. i really enjoy your post. it’s very interesting and easy to understand. i like hear story about someone vacation to other country. can i use your story in my english class???

  7. What was the most interesting place in NYC that you visited? Why did you like Washington, D.C. more than NYC?

  8. Did you visit any shows on Broadway? Do you know anything I could do in the evening in NYC?

  9. 1. How many people live in Washington, D.C.?
    2. How many people use the transport system per day? The metro?
    3. Does Washington, D.C. also have railway connections?
    4. What is the distribution between African Americans and Caucasians? Half and half?
    5. What is the cultural background?

  10. Dear Shonah,

    How can I imagine the trials of the White House?

    Is it possible to go inside there? I mean is it possible to go inside a part of the building or is it only possible to look through the fence?

    I’m also interested in learning how you can see that the president is in the White House? Do they show this by flying a flag?

    Is the parliament close to the White House?



  11. Such wonderful comments! Thank you all.

    @Monika My favourite place in NYC was Central Park. I like to run, so this was lots of fun. The people were very friendly, in the park, too. It was a nice place to breath – away from all the buildings.

    @Katrin Yes, the Obama family actually live in The White House. I did not visit The White House, but saw it from the outside.

    @Tanja The most interesting place was the memorial to “Ground Zero”. I made me think a lot and see that peace is possible! I actually liked NYC better than Washington DC. I think because there were many people from many different places and it made NYC more interesting than the capital.

    @Helmut Yes! I did. I saw West Side Story! It was wonderful. The singing and dancing was amazing. I would suggest seeing many shows at night. Also you can walk around Central Park and there are many people at night. Another very good thing to do at night is to go across to Brooklyn on the metro, then walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge to get an amazing view of Manhattan, and all the skyscrapers, at night.

    @Ottomar WOW!What great questions. I will have to get back to you with the answers – as I am Australian, not American, so I do not know the answers “off the top of my head”. However, if you give me a few days I will reply as best I can.

    @Martin Yes you can go into the White House on a tour. Apparently it leaves very early in the morning. So you must arrive at about 6am and you can wait until the 1st tour. I don’t think you can go into all areas of The White House (for example where the Obama’s live). As with Ottomar’s questions, I will have to do some research on how to know that the President is “in residence” or not. I did notice less security on one particular day – so I think the President was not there on that day. The parliament is not next door to the White House but it is not far, either! It is at Capitol Hill – at the other end of “The Mall” from the White House.

    @Annelise Yes! Definitely. NYC was a big city and I did not see everything I wanted to in one week. Also I would like to see more shows on Broadway and see all the museums I missed! One Day!

  12. Did you see a lot of joggers in Central Park?
    How was the weather in New York?
    Do you think the skyscrapers in New York are bigger than in Berlin?

  13. Would you recommend a special square to visit in New York?
    Would you recommend a good restaurant?

  14. Shonah,

    Have you ever visited the White House?
    Did you like Obama and the First Lady?
    Where do you come from?
    What is your most favorite place you have visited in the world?
    Which activities do you recommend to do?

  15. Hell Helga,
    Thanks for your comment. There were A LOT of joggers in Central Park. There were also a lot of cyclists, rollerbladers, horse riders and people walking their dogs!
    The weather was very hot and humid. The skyscrapers are a lot bigger than in Berlin. I think NYC has some of the biggest skyscrapers in the world!

  16. Hello Monika,
    It was great to received your comment, thank you.
    Times Square is a busy and vibrant square to visit in NYC.
    I only visited little restaurants and bagel cafes. I must take another trip to NYC, so I can recommend more for you – sorry 🙁 !

  17. Hi Ayhan,
    Great to see your comment. Thank you.
    No, I have not visited the White House. I saw it from the outside, only.
    Because I did not visit the White House, sadly I did not meet Obama or the First Lady. From what I know of them I do like them!
    I come from Sydney, Australia. I am visiting Sydney now!
    When I travel I always like to go for a run, to discover my new surroundings. I also like to sit in cafes and look at the people passing. I think whatever makes you happy when you travel you should do!

  18. Ottomar, thanks for your questions. I am sorry for the delay – as I am in Australia my time is all “messed up”!
    1. The population of Washington DC is (in the city) 591, 833. But the metropolitan area of DC is 5.3 million.
    2.The subway and bus systems serve both the District of Columbia and the immediate Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Metrorail opened on March 27, 1976 and presently consists of 86 stations and 106.3 miles (171.1 km) of track. With an average of one million trips each weekday in 2009, Metrorail is the nation’s second-busiest rapid transit system in the country, after the New York City Subway. By 2030 the authorities expect an average one million Metrorail riders daily!
    3.Yes, you can catch the train to many places in America, from Washington DC.
    4.55.6% Black or African American, 36.3% White, 3.1% Asian, and 0.2% American Indian.
    5.I am sorry, Ottomar I am not quite sure what this question refers to. You mean the cultural background of Americans? The Native Americans? Or the cultural influences in Washington DC? If you clarify this for me, I can try my hardest to answer you.

    I found most of this information from,_D.C.#Transportation

  19. I enjoyed reading your “big, Bigger, Biggest” post (thanks to a ShelTerrell tweet). It was interesting to see how you felt about those cities. I grew up in New York City and for a brief time lived near Washington, D.C. so I know both cities quite well. Hopefully you ran around the Mall in D.C. which is a popular activity. I used to love running in Central Park especially when they stop vehicular traffic there and opened it up to runners, cyclists and roller bladders.

    This Spring I am taking my eldest grandchild to NYC and I am anxious to see her reaction. I will definitely make a slideshow of that experience.

    My cities page:

  20. Dear Shonah,
    Glad you found my hometown, Washington, DC. impressive. It does its best to be! 😉 I grew up right behind the Capitol and love the city very much. Perhaps I can help with questions not answered in Wikipedia.
    @Ottmar’s question of cultural background, looking at the history of the city, it was located on the border between the Northern and the Southern states in the Civil War, and after that war many of the freed slaves moved to Washington to find jobs and protection. This made DC a city with a strong black middle-class, and Howard University was the first black college to be founded in the US. There are several other excellent universities, a major concert hall, many government agencies, military faclities, the international embassies … and of course all of the political demonstrations and official celebrations, like the swearing in of the president.
    I remember the riots of 1968 after Martin Luther King was assassinated. The riots took place not too far from where I grew up. Parts of the city were destroyed, and it took a long time for those streets to be restored. I’m thrilled everytime I go back and see that the city has recovered a little more.

  21. Hi there Anne,
    I am so sorry I missed your very informative comment…I am not sure how that happened – but I have only just discovered it!??? So thank you – and I do hope @Ottmar was not as slow as I!
    I appreciate you commenting and taking the time to come visit – it is greatly appreciated
    Shonah 🙂

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