Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wanderlust Wednesday: Library of Congress

Where: Washington, DC (Capitol Hill)
When: Various visits

Washington, DC is home to so many marvelous things. If you like history, museums, the government or education, this is the city you want to visit. With the National Mall lined with Smithsonian museums that are all free to enter, multiple theme-specific museums through the region that are greatly appreciated, the historic land markers and memorials, and, you know, the President of the United States--you can spend a couple days covering it all.

I moved to DC with a couple hundred dollars in my purse and no job, no car, no idea how I was going to make it work. A friend was nice enough to let me crash in his spare room where I slept on a blow up mattress he was so nice to provide for me (because I also had no furniture). It was quite possibly the most rebellious, terrifying thing I've ever done in my life. I left the safety of my parents home for a large question mark in a literal city where I knew no one and had no experience.

But it worked out for me with time and here I am, still kicking it a couple years later. Good thing too, because I get to fan girl about some of my favorite travel spots to you, my readers.

The first week that I was in the area all those years ago I went into DC equipped with my phone, a charger, a brand new Metro card, and a tourist guide. I had visited DC before but never had the full ability to tourist the hell out of it. One of my first stops on that particular trip was none other than the Library of Congress.

I have wanted to visit this place for ages but never had the opportunity but I snatched it up on that sunny April day. Years later, during August of 2015, I went back there for the first time with a friend who is also a book lover. I wanted to show her the building because, really, it's so beautiful it's best to see it in person.

So really, you should see this place in person. Nothing I say will adequately describe the beauty of it and no pictures I provide will accurately depict how lovely it is. But, I'm going to share some photos and information anyway, if only to give you a taste.

Upon climbing the large stairs to the entrance of the library, you'll immediately need to go through security. This is a everything out of your pockets, belt off, walk through a scanner type of security check so try and prep beforehand so it's a quicker process. Once you're through, you can stop by the visitor center or just continue forward to wander the halls.

The library offers guided tours which I've never taken but I'm sure would prove useful. The building open Monday-Saturday so there are plenty of opportunities to go and wander around alone or with a tour. Wandering alone is a preference for me because, particularly, I am cheap but also because I enjoy being able to linger in particular places while I wait to take the perfect picture.

When the original library (housed elsewhere at the time) was pillaged by the British during the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson offered up his own literary collection to help refill the contents. His books were still on display the last time I visited and were marvelous to see. The man was quite the reader. After all, he is our founding father who is quoted to have said, "I cannot live without books."

There's so much about the structure of this building though, right down to the tiniest details on the walls or floors. Also? The bathrooms are the cleanest, fanciest bathrooms I've ever used.

The shop is a bit expensive but has a lot of fun odds and ends that you can purchase. There's also a food court, although I've never eaten there.

All in all, just go. Visit this location. Make it the starting place of your tour of the National Mall. It's right by the Capitol building which is the eastern end of the National Mall. The National Mall is lined by free museums as you walk west and the western half has all the major monuments so many are familiar with -- the Washington Monument, Vietnam and WWII memorials, the Lincoln memorial, oh, and the White House.

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