Apr 272012

We tried to get an earlier start to the second day of touring the city, but it just didn’t happen.  Met some friends for coffee and a light brunch at Northside Social in Arlington.  This place is pretty well known now by those in the Ballston to Clarendon corridor, but it’s a great local coffeeshop and place for light meals.  Plus, in the evening, it’s a fun wine bar with great outside seating during the summer.  I was worried when it opened it would be a bit too hipster, but it strikes a great balance, and is really lots of fun:  great food and drinks, fun atmosphere, and great location.

After that, it was off to DC for our first pre-booked tour.  We were off to the Library of Congress for their tour.  Offered every hour on the half hour, I didn’t expect this to be nearly as cool as it was.  However, I think it was one of our highlights of the entire weekend.  Our guide (Clark) was excellent, the building is probably the coolest sight I’ve ever seen in DC, and it was an overall fantastic experience.  We took the 11:30 tour on a Saturday, and showed up at 11:28 with no problems at all.  No booking in advance, and it was a great tour.  I’ll post a few pics here:

Our tour guide told us that pretty much anyone could get a “reader card” for the Library of Congress and then see the reading rooms, so of course we wanted to do that!  It took a total of about 20 minutes, and we both had nice cards…with pictures…allowing us to request books and read them for research.  Pretty awesome, and made a fantastic souvenir!

Next stop was the tour of the US Capitol.  I’d e-mailed my members of Congress earlier, and my representative got back to me and had arranged a 1:20pm tour of Congress for us.  We got there, gave the confirmation number, and got tickets.  A few notes for people who want to visit Congress:  they did seem to be giving out “day of” tickets as well, so you might not need to request in advance.  You can also request in advance online.  Basically, it’s pretty easy to get.  That said, the time you get is the time you get IN LINE, not the time of the tour.  Though, we were on the tour maybe 15 minutes after our time.  No biggie.

So…the tour itself was mildly disappointing.  It’s basically a tour of the Capitol Rotunda, and that’s about it.  Yawn, nothing seriously exciting – and no tour of the House or Senate galleries.  However, they did tell use how to get into the galleries, and I’ll tell you that in my next post since we successfully did it.  That said, the Rotunda was pretty awesome:

The also showed us the “original” House chambers, which had been abandoned due to poor acoustics:

After the tour, we decided to do a bit of a walk.  Having seen many of the Smithsonians the prior day, we decided to hit a couple of the ones we didn’t see the day before, some of which I mentioned in the previous post.

Next up:  what to do on a rainy Sunday in DC!

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