Spring really is a magical time to be in DC! The whole city seemingly glows in the sun and the green grass is finally uncovered from beneath the blanket of snow that seemed to hide it since I arrived in January. Even the fact that the fountains at the WWII memorial are on now totally changes the appearance of the national mall. All of these factors and more contribute to what really is a stunning picture-perfect city right at your doorstep whilst here at GW. And whilst all these things make the city that much more special, really it is not why spring-time in DC is famous nationwide.
For those who do not yet know (and if you come in the spring semester you will quickly find out as the National Mall goes from being a bit of a ghost town in the winter to an area buzzing with activity and tourists in the Spring), this season seemingly calls on a mass migration to the nation’s capital. The main star of the attraction are the cherry blossoms that dominate the area with beautiful pink leaves everywhere. Seeing these cherry blossoms is a treat as they are only perfectly in bloom for about a week a year, so you really have to make sure not to miss them!
The Cherry Blossom trees were a gift from the Japanese to DC in 1912 and it was Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo who proudly gifted them. Since then, late March/early April has become known as the time of the National Cherry Blossom Festival which I believe has gradually grown into the event that it is today.
Having been away for a week I was worried about the prospect of maybe missing the Cherry Blossoms and having seen them before on a trip to Japan, I knew that missing them and their beauty would be a big loss. Apparently, the cherry blossoms heard my concerns and waited for me to return before blooming into full glory. Thank you cherry blossoms!
So after a red eye flight and no sleep all night, I got in from the airport, dumped by bags and met up with my friends to head straight on down to Constitution Avenue to get a good spot along the Cherry Blossom Parade route – a large parade that goes nearly all the way down Constitution Ave to mark the closing of the festival. Because of the really cold winter we had, the closing ceremony seemed somewhat premature because it was only then that the blossoms bloomed but never mind, the thought was there. We got a spot right opposite the Washington Monument and had the White House directly behind us – couldn’t have been in a more picture-perfect/’guess what we are in DC’ position if we tried! We were very lucky because the sun was out to play that day and the weather was amazing and warm – ahhh, I like this DC!
The parade itself was 2 hours long and was pretty interesting – there were a number of marching bands, a series of different middle and high school groups and activity clubs that showed off their skills including unicycling, girl scouts, etc, some artists including Estelle who performed, various military marching troops, etc. It was a nice parade and we all enjoyed it. I particularly enjoyed watching the crowd cheer and praise their military whenever the parade showcased different men and women in service, which is systematically did throughout – it is fantastic that there is such pride in and support of people who dedicate so much.
After the parade we decided to take a walk down to the Tidal Basin to have a look at the cherry blossoms and snap that cliché yet gorgeous photo of the Cherry Blossoms in front of the Jefferson. It was absolutely stunning down there although it was much to crowded as every tourist and their dog seemed to have moved from the parade trail down to the Tidal Basin with us – we did expect this to happen, but nonetheless. We decided to leave the area after that return during the week when hopefully the crowds had died down a bit.
And that we did – I went back on Monday morning with two of my friends who are also exchange students to go for a nice stroll along the mall and back to the Tidal Basin. The crowds were definitely less which was fantastic and we took total opportunity to snap a few more photos with the blossoms.
The Cherry Blossom excitement is infectious here though and so despite surely having had my time with the trees, when the sun came back out on Wednesday 6 of the exchange students and I made our way down to the Tidal Basin again but this time to go paddle boating. It was a lot of fun! We got two four seater paddle boats between us, put some music on full blast on our phones and tried to keep the two boats as close together as possible whilst paddling around the basin checking out all of the monuments. What a gorgeous view! For anyone coming here in the Spring, I would definitely recommend this as an activity that should be done! And good luck switching drivers – we were so impressed with ourselves when we didn’t fall in!
All in all, to future Spring students, get excited! DC is absolutely stunning – it was in the winter too but now it is as if there is boundless energy and life seeping from the monuments and amazing nature around. I’m sure I say this every week but wow – what a city! Cant believe our time here is slowly approaching its conclusion – leaving is going to be very very difficult! But anyway, there are a couple weeks still before that becomes of concern.
And so, until next time…