We kept hearing about the cherry blossoms at Washington. Friends here in San Diego, flight attendants on the way there, taxi-drivers - they all mentioned the cherry blossoms.
We got in late at night, and it wasn't until we ventured out into the sunny morning, and walked from our hotel to the Mall (below), that we realised what all the fuss was about.The city centre is gobsmackingly, divinely beautiful to start with, with a magnificent view seemingly around every corner.
But I wasn't expecting the flowers.
These are all blooming along the sides of The Mall, which is a massive expanse of grassy parkland that starts at the Capitol and goes all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, a stretch of just over three kilometres long.
This is where The Mall cuts through the buildings of the Smithsonian Institution, any one of which could have occupied us for a day at least.
The first cherry trees were a gift to Washington and the US from Japan, and this is celebrated every year with a Cherry Blossom Festival. It was festival time while we were there, with fireworks set off at night over the Tidal Pool, which is like a billabong off the Potomac River.
Just the tiniest breeze sent petals fluttering to the ground like snow. Breathtaking.
And while I don't want or intend to bore you with an endless travelogue, I must just tell you about this very beautiful lady:She is Lady Elizabeth Linley, who became Mrs Richard Brinsley Sheridan. This Gainsborough portrait of her hangs in Washington's National Gallery of Art, directly opposite Napoleon and just round the corner from George Washington. So I bet they all have a lot to talk about when the lights are off and the tourists are gone!And she's my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother!