Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 27 September 2012

US North East Trip – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, whose meaning is friendship or brotherly love in Greek, is the largest city in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (not State of Pennsylvania). When I was planning this trip, many people told me not to go to Philadelphia that there is nothing to see. And I realised  they were all right – there is not much things to see but Liberty Bell.

Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

But even though there is not much things to see, it still is worth to go and see because the city is very important in American history – It was the meeting place of the founding fathers and was the first capital of the United States of America while Washington D.C was under construction. Even the film of Six Sense has this city as background because of its old history.

Meeting Place for Founding Fathers

When you go to the Independence National Historical Park, you can visit the first congress buildings and independence hall but you must get a ticket at the Information Centre. Don’t worry, it is free. You just go and ask for ticket.

First House of Representatives

It is guided tour and park rangers will guide a group and explain all the places. After that, you can also go into the next building where they displayed the Declaration of Independence. I don’t know that document is original or not, but the ranger told us not to use camera flash, so it looks like one of the original documents. (If not, they didn’t have to be that nervous.)

Rug in the senate with the seals of original 13 states

In the congress building, ground floor was for house of representatives, and the upper floor was for the senate. And two rooms have the portrait of the King and Queen of France because France helped US for the revolutionary war again Britain. And after the french people cut the heads of their king and queen, french ambassador asked the senate to take down the portraits, but senate declined.

After that, the portraits were burnt in a fire with the rug in the picture above, and later, the french government gave the portraits to America as gifts.

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell has a Bible verse of Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” It is not on service and of course is not hung on the Liberty Hall any more. They tried to repair the crack, the now the crack itself became the symbol of the bell.

This bell was rung on 8th of July, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was read. And after a while, abolitionist used this bell as their symbol because of the writing on it. And they began to call it the Liberty Bell.

Philadelphia, not much things to see, but one of the place you MUST GO. Oh, I believe there is Free Tours by Foot at this city even though I did not use it because the day did not match for us.

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Monday, 24 September 2012

US North East Trip – Washington D.C

Our first destination was Washington D.C and Maryland.

Washington D.C is not part of any state, but Maryland and Virginia donated land to form the national capital, but later the congress returned the Virginia portion. So the special city is Maryland side of Potomac river.

The initial shape of the city was square measuring ten miles on each side which made 100 square miles, but since the congress returned the Virginia portion, it is not any more square.

Washington D.C is not a state, but it has its own jurisdiction and license plate. It is under direct control of the Federal congress. Currently D.C is divided into four quadrants and the Capitol is in the centre.

Lots of government and public buildings look like ancient Roman ones. They were like telling me what America wants – They want to be the Roman Empire at this  time.

Department of Treasury

The city was full of memorials which look like ancient Greek and Roman temples. As ancient Romans made great person (such as Caesar and August) god, Americans made theirs almost god. Just go and look Abraham Lincoln Memorial and Thomas Jefferson Memorial. The buildings are just like ancient temple, and the huge size of the statues are like great god of Zeus. America’s founding fathers were Christians, but not their descendants.

Abraham Lincoln Memorial

Abraham Lincoln Statue

The founding fathers, I think, were all Republicanists (don’t be confused with the Republican Party) including John Adams. I think, I am also a kind of republicanist, and now I think Abraham Lincoln was the last republicanism politician, seeing his speech – “and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” this type of government is ideal for republicanism. I think he was the last president who succeeded early founding father’s idea and thoughts.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Statue

Near the Lincoln Memorial, I found the ‘Korean War Veteran Memorial.’ And next to it, I found a stone with the writing, ‘Freedom is Not Free.’ Yes, I totally agree. Even though there are lots of things that I don’t like of America, I appreciate and thank them that they fought for us sacrificing their lives and bloods.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The highlight, and the best in the Washington D.C tour were Smithsonian Museums – the World’s best museums! I thought the name was ‘Smith Sonion,’ but I found that the founder’s name is James Smithson and the name derived from Smithson like Christian came from Christ. The Englishman Smithson, however, never made himself to America. And when he died in Italty, the foundation moved his body to D.C and he is still lying there.

Smithsonian Natural History Museum

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum was the place that I wanted to visit most in America. Whenever I read National Geography, it always praised that museum. Hannah and I spent one whole day at the Natural History museum, and I realised it is not possible to look around the museum carefully in a day. I at least needed three days in that museum.

Main Lobby of the Museum

Inside the Museum, the found that they had small exhibition for Korea, it is always glad to find something about Korea in Canada or America.

Korean Exhibition

When I was in Korea, some people asked me why Smithsonian is the best in the world. I couldn’t answer at that time, but now since I visited there, I can give a few answers. First is its size and the number of items displayed. Second is its quality and kind explanations through many devices. Third is free admission. But I found one more. In other museums, it is not hard to find a sign saying “DO NOT TOUCH.” But in Smithsonian Natural History museum, you will continuously see the sign below:

Sign Saying, “Please Touch”

And we went into an exhibit where my wife liked most and wanted to spent most of the time – DIAMOND EXHIBIT where we found that famous “HOPE DIAMOND.”

Hope Diamond

Unfortunately, I could not find any sing here saying, “Please Touch.”

We were lucky that we got free admission for the Butterfly Pavilion (normally you need to pay for it). Hannah loved here too but not as much as previous place.

I have one reason to go back to D.C – the Smithsonian Museums.

Some say we are related, I say “NO.”

In Washington D.C, there are whole lot other places to go. One place you must NOT miss is holocaust museum. It is mostly about Jews under Nazi, but  I think it is about human rights which matters even today some place in this world we are breathing.

Gold Bars in BPE

You can also go to the visitor centre of Bureau of Printing and Engraving, so called money factory where they make money (not coin) and you can see the money making/printing process, and of course the real gold bars like above. When I went to the Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, they also displayed a gold bar, and they even let us touch and lift it. But don’t try to run with it. A police officer was standing next to it with his gun ready with bullets. I bet you are not faster than bullets.

A Beauty in front of Capitol

Another place you must go is Capitol – the congress building. You can get free tour admission. If you are American, I bet, the Capitol tour will make you so proud of your country. It was good to me too. Because I always wondered why America has two houses, why they need Senate when they do not have noble class. And this tour solved my question.

And if you are planning to visit Washington D.C and don’t know what to do or where to go since it is your first time, I recommend you ‘Free Tours by Foot’ – http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/

Theatre where Lincoln was assassinated

It was very good to me. And it is free. You just give tips and if you think it sucks, you don’t have to tip them. If you meet the same guy we met, the tour must be very good. Again, it is even FREE.

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