The cherry blossoms will be peaking next weekend. Washington, DC isn’t the only place cherry blossoms bloom, but the cherry blossom trees here are famous. They were initially a gift from the Japanese, and there are thousands around the city, mostly concentrated around the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial, close to the Mall. They are quite pretty, and the city has built a festival around the blooming of these trees, complete with a parade, a race, and a regatta.
The Cherry Blossom Festival also signals the beginning of the tourist season here in DC. I met a friendly part of a group of students from Oregon on the Metro on my way to work last week; there were 100+ of them total, I was told. Small family groups are starting to show up too, going on educational Spring Break trips, no doubt.
I was annoyed by tourists at one point of my life. They stand on the wrong side of the escalator and take up valuable commuting space. But I am loving them right now. For the most part, DC tourists gawk in wonder at things we locals forget is really awesome.
Every day I walk within yards of the White House. I can see the top of the Washington monument on my walk to work. And I could go have lunch in the park across the street from Obama’s house any given day. I went shopping by the Pentagon last weekend, and drove right by Arlington Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial to get there. I’m not bragging, I’m just taking a moment to appreciate what we Washingtonians have. People come from Oregon to see that stuff.
It’s when I see kids from Oregon, who say to me, “It’s our first time in Washington!” with excitement and wonder, that I appreciate living in DC even more. So I am welcoming tourists this year. Feel free to ask me if you need directions. Enjoy your visit. It’s pretty beautiful here.