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by Taylor Shelby
Charleston, South Carolina
December 5, 2005
When we went to DC, we didn't actually have much of a plan about what we wanted to see. On Saturday morning, we woke up and decided that we wanted to go see the Capitol Building. This is one of the many sights where you get in line for a timed ticket. When they run out of tickets, they run out of tickets, so we wanted to get there early. The ticket kiosk opens at 9am, and we were there in line by 9:15am. The line wasn't that long, so we figured we would get in pretty soon.
At about 10am, we finally got our tickets, which were for the 10:30am tour. While you are in line, they tell you about the rules. Just a couple of tips: if you want to see the Capitol, leave your nunchucks, fireworks, and cans of hairspray at home. We got a lot of pleasure out of the little prohibited items list. But seriously: no food! Unless it is baby food, it cannot come in. People had to throw out their picnic lunches and water bottles (even if they were empty). They don't mess around.
Before you actually get to go in, you have to wait in a bunch of lines, listen to rules, and then go through security. It is like the airport (take off your shoes and jackets, put them in the X-ray machine, and walk through this metal detector). You wait in a room with the other 30 or so people on your tour. Then they send you up towards the Capitol Building. There are some lovely views from this little walk, but you get to see the same ones at the end of the tour, so save your pictures.
Once you get inside, you are taken first to the Rotunda, which is the room under the giant dome. They tell you all about the dome (made out of cast iron) and the statue of "freedom" on top (she is 19.5 feet tall). The Rotunda is full of statues and paintings, and our guide told us about most of them. Next you move on to the room where the House used to meet before they outgrew the space. There are even more statues in here (100 statues total live in the Capitol, two from each state). I don't want to give away the interesting parts, because then your tour will be boring, so I'll skip ahead. You finally end your 30-minute tour in the Crypt, which was where GW was supposed to be buried. It never happened, so it is empty today. This is where they have the gift shop and museum spaces.
Overall, the Capitol was okay. I enjoyed seeing it; it was beautiful, important, and historic, all the things you expect from DC. However, by the time we left, it had been almost 4 hours, which just wasn't worth it for me. There are other things I would have rather done in that time.
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