Washington was not a favourite
We encounter the saddest people on our entire journey
Winters Chilling Tales # 116
Days 255 to 258
Four miserable days in Washington
We got on a Greyhound bus from New York at 1230. Remember back in France we had to book our outgoing flight? Well, it was out of Miami to Cuba and so we just decided to travel down the East coast of America on our way to Miami.
The bus ride was fine. No problems or too much traffic. When we arrived we knew we had to catch a train and then a taxi to our hotel. We caught a train to central and then another one to New Carollton which was at the end of the line, North East of the city.
The first thing we noticed was the 1970’s/80’s railway carriages. We took off and then stopped on the line, an announcement said that each stop had a train on it and so we had to wait for the one ahead of us to move from the platform. We thought no problems. This happened for the next eight stops. It was absolutely painful. We moved then stopped and moved then stopped for the next hour. Finally we arrived and it was like turning up in far Western Sydney, just a normal outer suburb neighbourhood. Or so we thought.
We jumped in a huge black Cadillac taxi for the short 5 minute ride to the hotel. When we got there we were tired and starving. We had dinner at a restaurant attached to the hotel complex. The staff at the hotel told us not to go far at night time. Wow. We hadn’t had a warning from hotel staff about our safety since Rome and before that Thailand.
We had booked into a cheap hotel with breakfast included and wifi so the girls could catch up on school work after our fun in New York. Over the next four nights, we enjoyed our huge room, great wifi and many movie channels.
What we didn’t enjoy was the local area, staff at the hotel and the breakfast.
When we went to one of the many shopping centres to get food for lunches it was entirely in Spanish. The produce was from Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and so on. The staff spoke English but mostly Spanish. We then walked around the shopping area which was a typical shopping block with a 7eleven, furniture store, hairdresser and newsagent. Across the six lane road was the same again but with a pizza place, a Wendys and the only liquor store in the immediate area.
Apart from the first restaurant the rest of the restaurants were pretty bad. We walked into one, a Mexican restaurant and the staff only wanted to speak Spanish to me. I get that a LOT.
Summer told them in her broken Spanish that I didn’t speak Spanish, but they insisted on asking us what food we wanted in Spanish. So Summer began to order but they said they had no rice. They never once smiled or seemed interested in serving us at all. So we just put the menus down and walked out.
In all of our ventures into the local area, we hardly saw a smile. Customer service was the lowest quality we had seen in our entire trip. We started to get a laugh at how miserable everyone seemed. On our last night, we settled for pizza to go and had it in our room.
The breakfast at the hotel was disgusting. It consisted of two cereal options, bran flakes and rice bubbles, orange juice, coffee, scrambled eggs, hamburger patties, baked beans, potato cubes and pancakes. It tasted so bad that Summer settled for yoghurt bought from the shops and I only ate the bran flakes and some scrambled eggs. Everything was covered in fat or butter and tasted disgusting.
Also each time we headed back to our room we kept waiting for the cleaners to take our rubbish out but they never did.
The girls wanted to go to the movies for a treat and when we asked the hotel staff about a cinema close by, they told us about it and then said we should only go during the day and try not to be back after 6pm. We couldn’t believe it. How dangerous was Washington?
So what we decided to do was a full day of sightseeing and then a movie.
We headed into the city and was not surprised to find all the people we encountered along the way not smiling or being friendly at all. So different from New York City.
We saw the main sights. Here’s one you might know.
Then we decided to see a movie. We walked into the first cinema we saw and looked around at the movie titles. We didn’t recognise the names but not surprisingly, the guy behind the counter did not ask us if we needed help. We finally asked what movies they were playing and he said only mature movies (not rude ones, just over 15), and that we would have to go to another cinema down the street to see family movies. We walked down the road and the streets started to get busier and we thought we must be heading into the centre.
There were heaps of people laying about drunk and calling out, but we just ignored them and headed for a cinema sign. As we entered the laneway that led to the cinema a guy walked up to me and shouted ‘have you got any change’, and I turned around and shouted ‘NO’. He said, ‘no problem enjoy your holiday, have a nice day’. He was tall and stunk of alcohol but was pretty polite after being rejected. We laughed so hard about that and still the girls ask me if I have any change just to hear me yell ‘NO’.
The only thing showing that we all could watch was ‘The Intern’ with Robert DeNiro. We got our tickets and then decided to go all out and get popcorn, drinks and chocolate. We ordered some maltesers and the lady said ‘what?.’ We said malteeeeeserrrrrs, in an American accent, but she still didn’t get us. Each four of us tried to say maltesers in different accents to help her understand, but she insisted that they didn’t have any of them yet we could see the packet in the glass cabinet under the bench. We told her to look under the bench and she said she had never seen these chocolates before in her life and that they must be new.
We were now laughing so hard and we hadn’t even gone into the move. The movie was hilarious and a nice friend film that we all enjoyed, even me who never goes to the movies.
After checking out, we took the shuttle from the hotel to the train station. Forgot to mention that the shuttle driver was a sad man who never smiled or said a word to us each time he dropped us at the train station and so as we got off, we each said ‘thank you’ one at a time and he had no choice but to say ‘your welcome’. Still no bon voyage, like what you would get in France from nearly everyone you met.
It seemed that our exit from Washington was not going to be easy.
We went to the ticket counter for the train to the airport and the woman was a shocker. She said the price in a mumbled voice and then started talking to her work mate, but we didn’t get it and asked her what she had said. She said, ‘nothing I am not talking to you’. We said ‘no, what was the price you told us’ and she didn’t even look at us but just raised her voice and said the price. The same drone, into her chest voice, just louder. We started to laugh because it was just so stupid.
We then got on the train and could not believe that it was packed and had two tiny squares to fit luggage into. This was the airport train with no luggage storage facility and we had four huge bags and a backpack each. And even if we wanted to use the two holes provided there were three ladies sitting next to them who were not going to move their legs to allow us access. Then we asked the conductor if we could put the bags somewhere but he just said ‘no you cannot place them near the doors’ and told us to find a spot. There were two seats up the stairs that the girls took and Summer and I spent the rest of the time moving the bags around to allow people to move on and off.
Then out of nowhere a guy sitting down must have been fed up with us and told us to go and find a seat and get out of the way. We wanted to start at him with both barrels but just started to laugh and said ‘there is no room on the train’.
Finally, we got to the airport and when we got to the counter the man said we had to pay for our baggage as it was a cheap flight and baggage was not included. Summer said ‘no problem, we just want to get out of Washington’. The guy’s response was hilarious, he said ‘I’m hearing ya, can I come to Miami? and smiled his head off. He was the best person we dealt with in our entire time in Washington.
We can categorically state that Washington was the saddest place we had ever been to.
The people are just so miserable. It was in stark contrast to New York City and we began to worry if the rest of America was like this.
Stay tuned for our next adventure in Miami.