Day Two and we wake up nice and early so that we can head to the National Smithsonian Zoo, which is free by the way as is all Smithsonian Museums thanks to James Smithson. Smithson was never married and had no children; therefore, when he wrote his will, he left his estate to his nephew or his nephew’s family if his nephew died before Smithson. If his nephew was to die without heirs, however, Smithson’s will stipulated that his estate be donated to the founding of an educational institution in Washington, D.C., in the United States. In 1835, his nephew died and so could not claim to be the recipient of his estate; therefore, Smithson became the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. despite having never visited the United States.
Now that we have mastered the metro in DC we hop on the train and head out to see the Panda’s and new baby Bei Bei. The zoo is built on a hill so when you enter from the top it is a nice stroll down hill but then when it’s time to leave it is a long walk back to the top. Luckily there is a nice Irish bar called #Nanny O’Briens great food and nice staff. The Zoo was good, not as big as the Toronto Zoo but Jeff got some good photos.
We also had time to go over to the Library of Congress; it is right across the street from the Capitol building. It was pretty amazing the books were so old and we didn’t get to see most of it since it was busy. We did go through the Jacob Riis Exhibition of “How the other Half Lives”. The Library of Congress is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress, but which is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The library is the second-largest library in the world by collection size, with the largest being the British Library.
Since we had a bit of time to kill we went into The Museum of Natural History to get a glimpse of the Hope Diamond and a few other gems. The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous jewels in the world, with ownership records dating back almost four centuries. Its much-admired rare blue colour is due to trace amounts of boron atoms. Weighing 45.52 carats, its exceptional size has revealed new findings about the formation of gemstones. The jewel is believed to have originated in India, and is known to have been cut from the French Blue (Le bleu de France), presented to King Louis XIV. It acquired its name when it appeared in the catalog of a gem collection owned by a London banking family called Hope in 1839. Later it was sold to Washington socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean who was often seen wearing it. Since 1958, it has been on exhibition at Washington’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Hope Diamond has long been rumored to carry a curse, possibly due to agents trying to arouse interest in the stone. It was last reported to be insured for $250 million
Took a walk through the dinosaurs and mummies section and then wandered a bit before heading out to refresh before a great dinner at #Epic Smokehouse.