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SLA 2009: First impressions of Washington DC

Having just about got over the jet lag and found a bit of free time to jot some things down, I thought I’d make some notes on my first full day in Washington DC, which was Saturday. Sorry if this is a bit incoherent: I’ve got about 10 minutes before I need to rush off for the conference opening and the first-timers reception!

Got into Washington on Friday afternoon, absolutely exhausted from a full days travelling. The hotel is lovely, I feel very spoiled! Went out for a quick bite to eat with my fellow Early Career Confence Award (ECCA) winners, which turned into a bit of a farce when it came to dividing the bill up – we were all far too knackered to do basic maths! We had a bit of a wander around, then went back to the hotel. I was in bed by 9.30: how rock n’ roll!

Fellow ECCA winners Beth, Sara and Annie

Fellow ECCA winners Beth, Sara and Annie

Was up bright and early on Saturday, ready to go sightseeing. As I’m not staying for any extra days after the conference I wanted to pack in as much as I could yesterday, as it’s the only free day I’m getting while I’m here. We all went to the convention centre to register in the morning. Had a bit of a chat to the people at the Washington DC division booth, who were wonderfully helpful, and really friendly. Also picked up some ribbons for my badge: I have First-Timers, SLA Europe and Blogger ribbons. I really like the ribbon idea, looking forward to seeing what everyone else has!

After that I headed down to the Mall, managed to fit in most of the things I’d planned to see: had a wander round the Air and Space Museum, walked up to the Capitol, then down to the National Gallery of Art (where I very much appreciated the air conditioning and the chance to sit down for a bite to eat – Washington is far too hot and muggy for an English girl!). After that I walked right down to the other end of the Mall, past the Washington Monument and the World War II memorial and down to the Lincoln Memorial. The view from the steps was spectacular, and the monument itself was awe-inspiring: it’s so iconic, and so familiar from pictures, but I really had no idea of the scale of it. After that I went to the Vietnam memorial, which is very beautiful and very moving, then back to the hotel via the White House (or as close to it as I could get, at least!).

Geese in front of the Lincoln Memorial

The man himself!

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I had about an hour at the hotel to get showered, changed and rest my aching feet, before heading out again for dinner with the SLA Europe contingent. Good to have a chance to catch up with my SLA Europe mentor, Neil, before the conference kicked off, and great to meet the rest of the SLA Europe people. We were obviously quite a glamorous bunch, as half way through the meal someone approached our table wanting to know if we were a board meeting of fashion editors!

The SLA President Elect, Anne Caputo, was also present, so we had a bit of a chat to her about our goals for the conference. She asked us if we had any questions, so one of the other ECCA winners asked for her advice on what the we shouldn’t miss in Washington. Anne gave a very considered, descriptive reply, saying that she’d want to go to the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial after dark, and see the city lit up. In a very generous move, she then offered to take us all there the following evening! So, that’s our plans for after the opening ceremony tomorrow, very unexpected!

Update: It’s now Monday lunchtime, and I’ve only just managed to finish writing this entry from Saturday. Have been massively busy since getting here: will try to blog more often from now on!

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