We went into Washington, DC, last weekend to visit the International Spy Museum, and then the area of the cherry trees which were supposed to be close to their peak bloom.
We found out that we were going into town only the day before it happened! It was a birthday treat from the young ones. They were going to manage the whole trip for us. So, for a change, I did not have to get stressed out worrying about how I was going to manage the city streets and traffic. Washington, DC, is especially difficult to navigate around if you are from out of town. It was good that I was away from the wheel for this trip. The directions for, and the approach to, the underground parking garage that we used for the day were so unique and specific that I would not have found it on my own!
The city streets were crowded in spite of the windy and unexpectedly cold conditions. It was a madhouse around in the area of the Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. The museum was also crowded. We also walked to The Wharf, the newly developed destination spot along the Potomac river. There were people everywhere. The restaurants were all full. COVID be damned!
This was our first visit to the spy museum. It is a fascinating place. There was way too much information for us to be able to absorb it all during the few hours that we were there. One of the things to note is that there are obvious political leanings and biases in the exhibits, especially when dealing with matters that are closer to our present time in history. And the term “spying” is used in a very broad sense.
The museum has been at this particular location since 2019. The building is new and has a fascinating design.The exhibition rooms are on the upper floors.
After our visit to the museum, we went down to The Wharf to try to get an early dinner. We had missed lunch while in the museum and we were hungry. The wharf was very busy in spite of the weather and its location next to the river. The sky was threatening and the gusts of wind from over the river made the feeling of discomfort from the cold more intense.
There were plenty of eateries around but we encountered waiting times of over an hour (even two hours in one case!) for seating at the ones that were open that early in the evening. We spent a lot time walking around, searching for a place to eat at, before ending up standing in line at a place that was not going to open until a little later. Thankfully, the wait there was not too long.
After lunch we walked over to the Tidal Basin for the experience of the cherry blossoms. There were people and cars everywhere. A team of traffic police personnel tried to maintain some measure of order at some road intersections, trying to prevent gridlock, and managing the crowds waiting to cross the streets.(The building in the background in the picture above is the National Museum of African American History and Culture.)
This is a picture the Jefferson Memorial across the water of the tidal basin.The crowds were incredibly heavy in the area of the Tidal Basin that we were at. I was wondering how anybody could actually enjoy the sight of the trees in this kind of an atmosphere.We decided to walk towards the Washington Monument instead of staying in the area of the Tidal Basin, hoping that we would get more space to ourselves to enjoy the cherry trees and to also take some pictures.
In general, the foot traffic from the presence of so many people in the area of the trees cannot be good for the health of the trees themselves. We could also see people who had torn off blossoms and branches from the trees.
This was our last stop in the city. We did not want to hang out too long on the street because of the weather and the crowds. We walked back to where we had parked our car, via Independence Avenue and L’Enfant SW street, passing under the offices of the United States Department of Energy at the intersection of these two roads.
On our way, we walked past the food trucks lined up in the area of The Mall on 14th Street.
The garbage bins in the area of the food trucks were overflowing, an unfortunate side-effect of the success of the National Cherry Blossom festival.
We made our way back to the location of the Spy Museum where we had parked the car. Pretty soon we were on Interstate-395 heading across the river and on our way home. The kids made it easy for us!