Tag Archives: Library of Congress

Washington, D.C. in May – day 1

I decided to celebrate both my birthday and my retirement with a week in our nation’s capital. We both love the city and there is so much to do there. We booked our tickets in February and then began to plan the details of our trip. While we didn’t do everything on the wish list, we did plenty as you will see in this and the coming posts. I’m going to do the same as I did for our trip to the North Shore last summer and do one post for each day of the trip. Please come along as I show you in photos everything we saw and did, and ate in D.C.

We arrived on a Wednesday and left the following Wednesday so we had 6 full days. Shortly after we booked our flights I noticed that so many attractions would be closed. There weren’t any tours of the Capitol building or the White House, for starters. Okay, well, you work around that then. The Air and Space Museum as well as the East Building of the National Gallery of Art would be closed for renovations. But there is so much to do and see and we planned around these closures and even did some new things this trip.

I researched attractions and restaurants on Trip Advisor and Google to create our agenda for this trip. I kept going back to attractions’ websites to see if anything changed and so many things opened up in time for our trip! I believe it was from Trip Advisor that I learned Capitol and White House tours would start again in April so I got right on that to get passes. And one of my favorites, the U.S. Botanic Garden, also opened up. That, along with the National Gallery of Art, are things I try to do every time I’m in D.C. I also checked attractions’ websites to see if timed entry passes were required and there were many that required them. The Smithsonian group of museums were all free but a few of the museums that we visited did require entry fees.

On our first day we started with the National Museum of African American History and Culture. My featured photo above is of this museum. We got timed entry passes 30 days prior and were there when it opened at 10:00. I had been there before and my group started in the lower levels which is recommended, and there is so much history!! But I didn’t time it well for that visit. I made lunch reservations too early and we had to rush through the 4th floor where all the cultural exhibits reside. For this trip I made sure to leave enough time between events and decided to not book a lunch reservation so that we didn’t have to rush. So, we started on the 4th floor and soaked in all the music, television, theatre and comedy displays. There is so much to the cultural exhibits!! The museum does a fabulous job documenting all the culture the Black community has contributed to American culture. In my opinion, it’s a must see.

Neither of us can spend more than two hours in any museum. It is just so much information that our brains get full and we need a break. And so it happened again with this morning’s museum. We spent so much time on the 4th floor that we rushed through the lower levels about slavery. Again, there is so much information and it is truly well done. You work your way through history of the slave trade and the many years of slavery. One of my favorite parts of this museum is coming up that last ramp on the lower levels to a huge photo of Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009. It still gives me the chills! And it’s so well placed.

We did not have time for the 2nd and 3rd floors which covers sports, the African American Military and an “Explore your family history” section. There is so much in this museum that it seems impossible to view it all in one visit, at least for us. I think you could probably spend an entire day at this museum and not see it all. Even so, we really enjoyed our time there and we both bought shirts in their gift shop. Following is a gallery of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

We lunched at Old Ebbitt’s Grill, a favorite of ours. I was pleasantly surprised to be seated immediately. We sat in the atrium which was new to us, and had another fabulous meal. Old Ebbitt’s is now part of the Clyde group of restaurants and they sure know how to treat their customers. Service and food were just right!

We chose 3:00 to visit the Library of Congress. This was one attraction whose hours changed between February and May. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough time at the Library of Congress because previously it was going to close at 4:00, but they extended hours on Thursdays which was the day we planned to visit so that worked out well. We got there a little early and they let us in.

Such a beautiful building inside!! And of course it’s full of history. There was no guided tour this time but there were museum clientele throughout to inform about the Gutenberg Bible, the Reading Room overlook and other spots throughout. We didn’t stop at all of them but really enjoyed the beauty and ornate decorations within. We also saw the Rosa Parks exhibit which was very interesting. I highly recommend a visit to the Library of Congress.

Oh, I forgot to mention that on our way to today’s events we happened upon the new World War I memorial. It’s in Pershing Park which is in between the Willard Hotel and the White House Visitors Center and about a block away from the White House. The American flag was raised over the World War I Memorial for the first time on Friday, April 16, 2021 at the formal unveiling of the memorial. The sculpture “A soldier’s journey” is scheduled for installation in 2024. In the meantime you see a photo of it on a wall and it is quite moving. Here are the photos that I took.

I found a bit more information at the following link which contains a mock-up of what the sculpture will look like:

https://www.nps.gov/wwim/learn/historyculture/journey.htm

Here’s a brief description from that site:

Memorial architect Joe Weishaar calls Sabin Howard’s A Soldier’s Journey sculpture “The Everyman.” Thirty-eight separate figures, spread over approximately 58 feet of wall towards the western end of the Memorial Core, portray the experience of one American soldier. Starting from the left, the soldier takes leave from his wife and daughter, charges into combat, sees men around him killed, wounded, and gassed, and recovers from the shock to come home to his family. The figures are mounted on the wall.

I hope you will come back for the next five days of our trip!

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Another day in Washington, D.C.

I took a small detour in my weekly posts about my trip to Spain in March to attend my nephew’s wedding in the D.C. area.  So this week I’d like to share a bit about another day I got to spend in our nation’s capital.  This was the day after the wedding and the day before my daughter and I went home.  Similar to my last trip to D.C. last fall, this one was another short visit.  This trip was with my sister, her son (the one that didn’t get married) and my daughter.  We parked at the Vienna metro station about 9:45 a.m. and took the train into D.C.  We had reservations for a tour of the capitol building at 1:50 and planned to visit both the Botanic Garden and the Library of Congress and also get lunch prior to our tour of the capitol.  We did manage to squeeze it all in but I wish there would have been time to see more of those gardens.  But, I’m so happy I got to go there.  It was one of the highlights of the day for me!  Following are photos from our short visit.  I hope you enjoy them!

First we visited the Botanic Garden since we didn’t get to D.C. in time to take the 10:30 tour of the Library of Congress.  And we only had about 30 minutes but I did get a few nice photos of lovely flowers:

We had to hustle to make it to the 11:30 tour of the Library of Congress but we made it and just barely! We stuck with the tour for about 30 minutes then checked out the exhibit of Thomas Jefferson’s library.  I had never been to the Library of Congress before and my goodness, what a lovely place!  Our guide told us it was built to impress and it is definitely “over the top” with many sayings and printer’s marks all over the walls.  It’s definitely worth a look and very impressive!

Afterwards we took the tunnel to the capitol building where we had lunch in the “restaurant”.  It’s actually a cafeteria with many different types of food to choose from.  I got a salad from the salad bar, Miss M had a veggie wrap, nephew got sushi and sister got a turkey burger.  We all thought the food was very good so while it’s a cafeteria, I highly recommend it for lunch if you’re visiting the capitol building.

When we checked in for our 1:50 tour of the capitol we were given the option to join the 1:30 tour since it hadn’t left yet.  We had a very amusing guide which made the hour (or so) tour very fun.  I learned so many things from him but the tale he told at the end of our tour was one thing that stood out.  It’s a question that comes up often at my house:  is the tomato a fruit or vegetable?  Hubby has always said that it’s a fruit because it has seeds.  Did you know that there was a decision by the Supreme Court that the tomato shall be classified as a vegetable?  Yes indeed.  I thought our guide was kidding but I googled it and found Nix vs. Hedden from 1893!  So those of you that say it’s a fruit?  You’re breaking the law!  Too, too funny.

Well, I forgot a few photos for the last gallery and there seems to be a glitch with photo galleries whereas I cannot edit any gallery in this post.  So, rather than start over I’m creating another, small gallery for the photos I forgot to include.  These are statues of Norman Borlaug whose name caught my eye as there is a Borlaug Hall on the St. Paul campus of the U of MN where I work.  Sure enough, it’s the same person.  The other statue is the only one not specific to a state and it’s of Rosa Parks.  What a nice tribute to her role in the Civil Rights movement.

A few last photos of the capitol and Library of Congress from the outside:

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