March 15, 2012

March 15, 2012

Within Walking Distance of Everywhere

Now that the cherry blossoms are getting ready to bloom, and now that we’re rolling into spring break season, DC tourist numbers are on the rise. My goal this year is to be at peace with the tourists. I was one once (though I preferred visiting in fall and winter), and I’m sure I stood on the left of an escalator or two, or used the wrong exit at Chinatown. (Heck, that still happens sometimes. Why so many exits, Metro?)

I’m afraid that not everyone has the tourists’ best interests at heart, though. For example, the promotional propaganda for almost every DC hotel includes the Washington Monument. Sometimes the hotel is just down the street from it. Sometimes you can see it from inside the room. It is definitely RIGHT THERE, within spitting distance of the front door.

Except when it isn’t. The very picture above is of the hotel I stayed at during my first-ever DC visit, in 2001. I was totally scammed by this picture, as the Monument is a good 30-minute walk from the hotel.

Let’s take the roughest of rough looks at the District of Columbia:

As you can see, the Washington Monument (point A)—nay, the entire National Mall—is just one part of DC. You can see it from a distance, but not from, like, Takoma. It’s tall, but it’s not THAT tall. So caveat touristos when your hotel says it’s within walking distance of the Washington Monument, even if there is visual evidence. More likely, someone knew how to use Photoshop.

Certainly this can’t be limited to DC, though. When you have an iconic structure—whether bridge, arch, or metallic bean—you want it featured prominently in your literature. A visual clue to the unwashed masses. Truth, schmuth.

Google Maps is your friend, DC visitors. Don’t let the flashy brochures fluster and confuse you. We have Congressmen for that.

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: