A travel journal
to Washington, D.C. by Carmen
Quote: Did you know that there are more spies concentrated in the Washington DC area than anywhere else in the world? That's just one of the many interesting things you'll learn with just one visit to the International Spy Museum.
You'll also have the hair stand up on the back of your neck as you discover how much of the US is a possible submarine target, how the KGB tries to infiltrate our government every day, and how many spies are never caught!
The best way to enjoy the museum is to play the part they ask you to play -- that of a top-secret spy. As a part of probably one of the most interactive museums I've ever encountered, you'll be tested on your new identity at every turn, and the danger of being caught is found at every turn. For example, look out! There's a security camera at that ATM!
My favorite parts of the tour included:
1. Passing through the security test and being questioned on my "spy identity." (I passed with flying colors, by the way, but if I told you more, I'd have to kill you.)
2. Seeing the Astin Martin from James Bond's "Goldfinger" jump into action.
3. Learning how to pick a lock.
4. Learning how to listen with sonar.
5. Cracking a secret code
6. Learning to spot a secret agent on video
1. Go through "security" after leaving the briefing room and answer all of their questions about your new spy identity.
2. Compete against 2 other spys to identify hazzards of being noticed, like security cameras and freak accidents.
3. If you're spry and nimble, navigate the ventilation ducts on your hands and knees. (The younger spys aren't so quiet when doing this.)
4. Crack a security code
Oh, and while you're waiting in line, grab a brochure and work the word puzzle on the back. As they say at the museum -- not everything is as it seems.
Restaurant | "Spy Cafe"
Grab a tray and head toward your area of interest. There are cold sandwiches, hot food under a warmer, and soups and salads. There is a plethora of drink choices, and the cookies are as big as your plate in some cases.
I chose the chicken tenders and the 2-cheese mac-n-cheese, and a soda. The whole kit and caboodle came to about $8. There's no tip to worry about because it's a cafeteria.
We were there in November, so it was pretty cold. The warm macaroni and cheese really hit the spot and warmed me up -- giving me more resolve to brave the wind and cold in the long line outside, which you can see as you're sitting in the cafe.
The atmosphere sets the mood for spies and such, and even the bathrooms get into the act. Everything is very modern looking, with lighting that makes you feel like you're being interrogated as you take care of buisness. :)
The food was mediocre, but the ambiance was spy-worthy. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give this a solid 5. Hey, it's a part of the whole Spy Museum expereience!
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 25, 2002
Spy City Cafe
800 F Street North West
Washington, District of Columbia 20004
YOUR MISSION: Conduct reconnaissance, gather intelligence, and recover secrets.
Upon entry to the museum, you adopt one of the spy identities hanging on the wall and proceed to the briefing room. I could tell you the identity I chose, but then I'd have to kill you. Let's just say that I'm a 21-year-old Italian female. I'm a travel agent by day, but you'll have to torture me to learn any more.
In the briefing room, you learn that Washington DC is the spy capital of the world. You also learn other spy facts – most importantly, that the best spies are never caught. Now you're going to be trained in the basics to help avoid capture.
Your first test will be passing through security. Approach the touch screen computer with confidence. You don't want to seem shifty. Answer each question. If you're successful, you may pass.
Next, you need to learn to spot all of the hazards that a spy faces while trying to remain undercover. There are twists at every turn -- cameras to catch your every move or old friends that might recognize you. Learn to spot them and move on to the "picking a lock" training video. If you're nimble and spry, you may want to try your hand at crawling through a ventilation pipe -- though many of the other spies weren't very stealthy, I noticed.
You'll also be trained in how to listen for enemy submarines approaching the shoreline. You must be vigilant, as the entire east coast of the U.S. is a possible target. (Now doesn't THAT put your mind at ease. See how important your job is?)
One of the most FAMOUS spys, though the movies blew his cover, is Bond, James Bond. Check out the Astin Martin -- decked out with all kinds of toys from Q -- as it puts on a demonstration of it's usefulness in the movie "Goldfinger."
You always learn from the mistakes of others, and so the museum also takes you through the history of spys - from Mata Hari to Julia Child. There have been spys back as far as there has been civilization -- the Trojan Horse is just one ancient example. But all of the highlighted spys have one thing in common, they were found out. Otherwise, how would we be reading about them?
There were also spys that played roles in every conflict throughout American history, From the Civil War to the Cold War to what's happening in the world today. A spy has even been in the news recently - I'm sure you've heard of him -- Richard Hanssen?
The museum makes sure that you end up in the gift shop, so you can pick up any gear that you may be missing before you head out into the world.
Lastly, trust no one.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 25, 2002
International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20004
Cary, North Carolina