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Spring In The U.S. Capital
The Rousing Festivals, The Many-Splendored Parks And The Cherry Blossoms That Imbue Everyone With A Lust For Life... The U.S. Capital Is Superlatively Beautiful In Spring.
And in spring, it’s another story altogether. So, here are a few slices of life in spring D.C.-style.
CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME
Exactly a hundred years ago today in 1912 the people of Japan sent the United States more than three thousand cherry trees as a gesture of friendship with the American people. The trees, planting of which commenced with a ceremony in the area known as the Tidal Basin, bloom every year as a perfect harbinger of spring and the symbol of a century-old friendship interrupted only briefly by the Second World War. Decked in shades of pink to red between March 15 and April 18 every year, the cherry trees completely transform the face of the capital, which takes on a carnival atmosphere for the five-week period. You’ll be surprised what fun it is to welcome spring in Washington, D.C., which is gearing up this year for a host of events on themes of Japan and spring, from a Kite Festival on March 31 to museum and gallery functions right down to street concerts.
POUNDING THE PAVEMENT
If you enjoy walking, then you’ll be oblivious to the passing of time in Washington. If you like, you can take a stroll through the pleasant parks and streets. If it’s a more thematic tour you’re after, then you can choose one of the routes suggested by the D.C. Tourism and Culture Office for getting to know the capital and the nation’s history. Signs at key points along the way will give you detailed information about the area and its important buildings, turning your stroll into a veritable culture tour. If you happen to come across an old public telephone booth, stop and take a closer look. These booths have been emptied out of late and works of art installed. In other words, you can add a little art to your culture tour and kill two birds with one stone.
PLEASURES OF THE PALATE
Naturally there is no shortage of eating and drinking establishments either in a place with so many politicians and VIP’s. If you like to eat, a plethora of fashionable restaurants and starred, award-winning chefs await you. The city’s seafood is an absolute must-try. Meanwhile Georgetown’s cafes, now in your face, now hidden away inside tiny bookshops, are another must. And no spring is complete without a tour of Washington’s open air market. If you happen to be in the city on a Saturday, be sure to stop by the Eastern Market, which is set up near Capital Hill. And then of course there are the cupcakes! You can sample them both in the market area and in the world-famous venues around Georgetown. One final suggestion: If you’re not good at tracking down eateries, visit the Eastern Market on Saturday and join one of the currently popular ‘Taste of DC’ culinary walking tours. Running anywhere from a few hours to an entire day, these tours will enable you to sample a range of different tastes in the company of a professional guide.
ART AND CULTURE
If you set a side one day for art in D.C., you won’t regret it. The Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery are just two of the city’s must-see museums. The Art of Computer Games exhibition, for example, which starts at the Smithsonian on March 16, could be an interesting choice. Add to these the National Gallery of Art and its not-to-be-missed opportunity to view the canvases of masters like Da Vinci, Goya and Monet. Shows on a number of different themes await you as well in the city’s many private galleries. Yet another interesting choice is Passport DC, which started five years ago. Organized in May, this event briefly throws open the doors of Washington’s foreign embassies to the public. Passport DC is an excellent chance to familiarize yourself with different countries and their cultures in a jiffy, and have a great time to boot. But you need to plan your day very carefully in D.C. There are so many things to do, so many alternatives to choose from, that every second counts, and you’ll be amazed how every minute fills up. And if it’s spring, then your pleasure will be multiplied. Remember, you heard it here…
Spot: Spring festivals in Washington, D.C. add zest to the city. And the different thematic museums and public buildings attract the interest of tourists.
AND THE CLASSICS
• A cruise on the Potomac River
• A view of the Washington Monument and the Vietnam War Memorial
• A visit to Capitol Hill
• A stroll through Georgetown
• A visit to the Smithsonian
• A tour of the city’s historic Alexandria district
• A stop at the Newseum museum of journalism
• A show at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
• A tour of the Spy Museum.