It appears to be a cardinal rule among journalists that if you visit Washington, your primary side trip must be to the Newseum.
Thanks to a generous fellow conference-goer, I did make that side trip, and without paying the $23 (including tax) for the two-day entrance ticket.
I spent approximately two hours there, which was definitely not enough to absorb the entirety of the exhibits. But I got to see some pretty nifty stuff. (The Sheldon T-shirt was in the gift shop… I couldn’t resist.)
The Berlin Wall exhibit impressed me the most – mainly because that Wall came down just as my generation was being born. I got to touch a small segment of the wall. (Don’t worry, the placard next to that brick said Please Touch.) The 9/11 and Holocaust exhibits were also moving, but in a different manner; they were memorials, while the Wall exhibit felt imbued with more hope. It was the end of the Communist era in the West; we still live in the terrorist era, a time filled with the same single-minded devotion to a wrong cause that spurred Europe’s ethnic cleansers.
Next stop after the Newseum was a meandering trek down the National Mall to see the Washington Monument and look from there down to the Lincoln Memorial. I’d never seen the Mall with leaves on the trees, not in person anyway.
I made it back to a subway station by way of the White House and a large gift shop, where I bought a T-shirt depicting the familiar map of Washington’s subway lines, in full color. (Such a “me” shirt! I couldn’t believe I’d found the perfect recuerdo!)
Is sightseeing alone as fun for everybody as I found it to be? I don’t know. But it sure was convenient, except that I’d love to have had my sister along to narrate the funny historical anecdotes only she would have recalled as we passed landmark after famous landmark.