I can't help but feel the need to apologize when I have to post crummy iPhoto pics to my blog. I'm sorry. We had an early tour of The White House Wednesday morning and they have a no purse/backpack/camera/explosives policy. All you can bring in the gates are a wallet and cell phone. It was pretty freeing in that I lugged around four-and-a-half less pounds of camera gear that day, but of course, these pics stink.
This is the only pic we have of our visit to Barack and Michelle's pad, but it was still worth it. I loved seeing all the family photography through the various terms, and the secret service men on staff in each room were incredibly knowledgeable! I learned a bunch of fun facts, but my favorite was that Madison stood only 5'2 and weighed just 98lbs! (Taft goes down as the presidential heavyweight champion, coming in at 330lb., and 6'3.)
After our tour, we set out on foot towards the Newseum. I took the above of some construction zone posters. I love how everywhere you go in DC, you are surrounded by references to either history or politics.
PAUL on Pennsylvania. This was a FIND! I first tried a Beignet au Chocolate at a PAUL in the Paris airport last fall, while on a stop-over. I have never lost sight of what that chocolate and hazelnut donut did to me, and was always sad to think I'd have to fly back around the world if I ever wanted to indulge in one again. But Tuesday night, while heading back to our hotel on the bus, I spotted one - right here in 'merica!!! We made a point of going the next morning and it was absolute heaven to come in from the cold to a hot coffee and one of these:
The baker said the filling is their own blend of hazelnut-chocolate. Your first bite into the donut is pretty manageable. But each subsequent bite gets more and more explosive until you're groaning with pleasure while blobs of nutella-esque goodness are dropping on the table, running down your chin, and melting on your fingertips. It's a rare experience and one that every good child deserves. So when in DC (or France) get yourself to PAUL.
The Newseum - we LOVED it! I didn't have it on our original itineray but I'm so glad our DC based family recommended we go. Just incredible! My favorites were the Kennedy exhibits (there are two), one specifically on how the Kennedys were the first to use the media to their advantage, allowing the public insight to their family life.
The Newseum bathrooms are tiled a simple white with occassional glass tiles showcasing awkward newspaper headlines in our history. So fun!
There was an entire room dedicated to the ORIGINAL front pages of world papers through the centuries. Here, we have a look at one on the Salem witch trials!
Stuff interesting to boys.
My son learned about 9/11 at The Newseum. (sigh.) It was something I knew would be there, but at the same time, I wasn't really ready. We walked over to the wall of newspaper covers and in he marched to the movie room before I had a chance to think. I followed and asked him if he was ready for this and he said yes. The feature was more about reporting on the event, and how emotional it was for the reporters to remove themselves emotionally from the event. It was less about making us, the viewers, emotional. So in that sense, the video wasn't as heart-wrenching as it could have been, but there was still the imagery of the planes crashing, the buildings falling and people running for their lives. All of these things still make me very emotional, which I was. He was quiet afterwards, visibly affected, and so I pulled him to a quite corner and asked him if he was OK and if he had any questions. He said no. I asked him if he thought it a mistake for me to have let him see it and again, he said No. It was just really, really sad, Mom.
And all I could think to do was agree.
The Newseum was close enough to The Capital and The Library of Congress that we could walk over. Not that we actually did...we took a cab instead because by this point our legs ached something fierce. I think I mentioned that we are both walking 5-10 miles a day here? Lots of leg work going on this week!
Our tour at The Capital wasn't great. I think it was just the guide we got (her nervous laugh did not help matters from my end). To start the tour was a short film about the building and its history and that was great. Beyond that, our guide didn't seem to have any great little nuggets of information - like the guys over in The White House did. :)
Across the street at The Library of Congress we finally understood why everyone kept telling us to Go to The Library of Congress! It's just beautiful! We tagged along with another tour group already in motion and learned some great stuff, especiallyy about Thomas Jeffereson's prized book collection, which is on display right now. I do regret not having a complete tour of the entire building as I was told their is a lot of wonderful symbolism in the interior details. Next time.