Friday, May 19, 2017

Three Tours in One Day!

Die-hard tourists that we are, we've tried to visit at least one attraction every day since we've been in Washington DC. Yesterday's goal was Ford's Theatre. Since nothing opens before 10am our mornings are pretty leisurely and we left the boat about 9:45 for our walk to the theatre.

On the way we strolled through the sculpture garden and had to wonder, "Does anyone even know what this is anymore?"

This sculpture reminded me of Ron in the Harry Potter books. "Spiders! Spiders! Why does it have to be spiders? Why couldn't it be butterflies?"

We found the theatre, talked with the ranger, snagged tickets for the 11:00am play (Yes, the 11:00am tour gets to see a play!), and chatted with fellow tourists. When the doors opened we walked through a display about the history of the theatre, Lincoln's plans for restoring the republic, and John Wilkes Booth's attitude towards Lincoln. Then we all filed into the theatre and watched a 35 minute play written from the theatre owner's perspective.

The play highlighted his anguish at the assassination, his guilt for not recognizing little clues, and his fear for the theatre's future. As he and the actor who was on stage that awful night re-enacted what happened, we gained a deeper understanding of the events of April 14, 1865.

The design of the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture was inspired by crowns used in West African art. We didn't have passes, but because of a generous tourist who had two extra passes, we were able to walk right in. The main floor is open and bright with artwork, donor plaques, and a gift shop. Finding and getting to the exhibition is a different story. One has to go down one level, stand in a long, vaguely marked line, and take an elevator down to the lowest level where the major exhibition starts.

This is a very moving museum and I'm sure glad we didn't visit this one on the same day we visited the Holocaust Museum.
Surprisingly, Malcolm managed to get an airplane fix here. This beautifully restored Stearman, one of the originals used for training the Tuskegee Airmen, has an interesting history. You can read about it here: 

One of the original Tuskegee Airmen takes a ride in "Spirit of Tuskegee" in 2011.

By midafternnon we were tired and hot so we decided to walk back to the boat, but the magic of Washington DC wasn't done with us yet. Walking by a small door on the back of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, we were invited in for a tour. (Our interactions with the guides in Washington has been delightful. They've all been so friendly and helpful.)

No photographs are allowed on the tour, but there is a little display on the way in. I know I couldn't even lift this pile of cash, but it's fun to dream about what you'd do with a million dollars, isn't it?

So that's how we did three tours in one day! Washington DC really is a great city to visit. Nearly everything is free, although you sometimes have to get a pass first. The locals are friendly, the sidewalks are clean, and the history, art, and architecture are stunning. I would highly recommend visiting our Capitol.

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