Travel A to Z – W

West Bay, England It was my sister’s idea to go here. She had seen the TV series Broadchurch and wanted to see the beach and cliffs where the body was found. So we planned a convoluted route that would take us to Cornwall via West Bay (I’ll make a small point here that these two places are in opposite directions). The little town of West Bay itself didn’t have much going on – some hotels, fish and chip shops, a quiet harbour – but the pebbled beach and cliff were impressive, and I loved being beside the sea and having views along the cliffs and the coast off into the distance. The wonder of the cliffs was lessened somewhat by the warnings on the beach that people should not rest under the cliffs for fear of rockfall. (Cliff collapse is a common occurrence along this coast.)

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The undulation of the coast along here made me want to go for a long walk. The South West Coast Path goes by here and while I might not have the legs to do all hundreds of miles of it, I would like to do some coastal path walking along the south / west of England one day. Maybe that day will be this year.

Washington DC, USA Like many places in the US, you’ve seen parts of Washington DC in films and TV shows so many times before, that being there amongst it doesn’t feel real. Is that really the White House?

The Lincoln Memorial, you’ve seen it in films, and you’ve seen it in history. This is where Martin Luther King stood to make his “I have a dream…” speech.

I was surprised to see a large number of people had gathered here for family reunions. Groups of people with matching t-shirts announcing their family name were clustered all around the war memorials, the Lincoln memorial and the Martin Luther King memorial.

I was also surprised at how hot it could get in Washington DC – we were there in summer and it must have been about 40C (+100F). The day we walked around the monuments at the Basin we were clinging to every bit of shade we found, picking up extra bits of history on the way as we were walking at a similar pace to an organised walking tour.

Washington DC takes up a very small area – it’s about 12 miles across, 68 miles square (176km sq) – but it packs a huge cultural punch for its size. (Justifiably so, as the nation’s capital.) There are the museums – the Smithsonian, the Museum of American History, the Air and Space museum, National Art Gallery, the Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. There are the political institutions – the White House, the Capitol, the Library of Congress. There is history – all the monuments around the Mall and the Basin. And there is finance – the World Bank and the IMF. (My sister thought I was mad, wanting my picture by the World Bank sign, but when we got there we had to wait while two other guys took their picture first. #banknerds.)

Washington State coast, USA I saw pictures of the Washington State coast once and was smitten. Forests that reach all the way to the shore; the beach is covered in driftwood; rocky promontories break up the scene; the ocean rolls in as wild surf. It looked like a place to walk and walk and walk and forget about the human world.

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