The first time I visited over five years ago and did what every every diligent traveler would do, cramming in and walking through all the major sites: the Washington Mall, the Smithsonian museums, the different memorials, the Library of Congress (superb!). I found out that even as I allotted four days in the city, I still did not have enough time to visit every major site hence I missed out on some sites my list: U.S. Capitol (inside), Jewish Museum (after all the museum bureaucracies, quite forgettable), the American History Museum and the Washington Monument (same bureaucratic stories).
For this second visit, I vowed not missed out on the U.S. Capitol and so from Manila, I made long distance call to the information office trying to get tour schedules only to be greeted by a repetitive and annoying answering machine. Talk about bureaucracy.
Tip: The Capitol guided tour tickets are given free service kiosk in front of the building (right side), they give out tickets until the run out. Tours run every half and hour so you have to be there on the designated time otherwise its back to the queue for a new ticket. Tickets are given on a per-person basis, meaning you cannot have someone get it for you.
The U.S. Capitol viewed from the front-right side. Very imposing indeed! There’s a long list of banned items (firearms are obviously on the top of the list) as well as food and drinks.
Upon entry, one is immediately to the center of the building…
A worm’s eye view of the dome. This huge, soaring expanse is easily one of the hallmarks the Capitol building. It is impressive for its cathedral-like proportions.
The Statuary Hall. This was the part when member’s of the group start getting giddy and start the endless camera clicks often veering away from the designated spots. NOT a good idea as you might find your way escorted outside the building.
The Dome and Statuary are the only two areas included in the tour, if you are, like me, a serious historical groupie, then spend a few more time exploring the inner sanctum. The Senate hall is open to the public and you can catch the US Senate in session and perhaps ponder a thing or two on how certain US policies affect world politics.
Just listen, no cameras please.