The day started early for us. For Michael it was 3am, I managed to get through to 4am and then dosed on and off until 5:30am and Helen was up from about 5am as well. Chloe did the best and she was awake just before 7am. I am actually here to work and I had a breakfast at 7:30am. Usually I would be moaning about so early a start but today it felt like I had put in 2 hours of work before breakfast. The breakfast meeting was followed by another meeting and then I had a telecon for an hour and half with my UK office. Morning gone. Lunch with the other conference attendees (and free) and then fortunately the formal part of the day was done and I could work the rest of the afternoon in the hotel room. My view from the room is the one you can see in the photo – the snow is melting but it was pretty cold outside though (see if you can spot any famous landmarks in the picture – there is one – I promise).
Helen and the kids went out to have breakfast and do some sightseeing. The breakfast in the hotel is $21 excluding tax and tip. Tax is some ridiculously high rate and so after a standard 16% tip you are talking well over $25 per person for breakfast (or R275). No one person can eat that much for breakfast. On second thoughts after seeing one women occupy the lift by herself today, there is at least one person staying in the hotel who probably could (and will). Helen, Chloe and Michael headed into the centre of Washington on the Metro rather and had breakfast at Starbucks. They also went in search of pre-paid SIM cards and battled to find them until they found an AT&T shop. Now they all have USA phone numbers for the duration of the time here and we can all breathe again as this essential daily need is fulfilled.
Helen is very impressed with how friendly everyone has been in Washington. She said that they were trying to figure out how the metro tickets worked and some random lady came up and offered help and showed them how to purchase the tickets. The people in the stores have also been very friendly. Americans know how to make you feel good about spending your money in their country. Michael gave up staying with Helen and Chloe as they were quickly into shopping mode. Michael took the metro back to the hotel by himself and no doubt spent the rest of the afternoon on the WiFi.
After Helen had her afternoon nap we decided to go for a stroll around the area. We walked up to an area called Morgan Adams which is like Washington’s Long Street. It being early afternoon it was pretty dead though. Pretty area and nice to get some fresh air. By the time we got back to the hotel I reckon I had lost all feeling in most of my face and I was wondering whether I still had ears or whether they had frozen and dropped off at some point along the way.
Michael didn’t come with us but instead tried to go the hotel gym. They wouldn’t let him in though because you need to be 18. You can use the pool though so long as you’re 15, you can drive at 16 but you can’t use the gym until you’re 18?! Seems a bit inconsistent but those are the hotel rules.
We had a dinner this evening in the hotel restaurant with all the other Safrican’s attending the meetings this week. There were 11 of us for dinner and it was a relaxed and enjoyable dinner. The portions remained giant-sized but then again why would I expect anything less. The picture is of the interior of the restaurant – quite beautiful. The hotel really is charming in many ways. They have up in the lobby the very famous events the hotel has hosted and this included hosting many of the foreign dignitaries for JF Kennedy’s funeral (including Charles de Gaulle). It was also the location used for the shooting of the movie ‘Pelican Brief’ starring Julia Roberts (based on the novel by John Grisham).
We have managed to make it to 10:30pm tonight but I can hear Helen yawning loudly from behind me as I type. Bed is calling …. until tomorrow.