Monday, 18 May 2009

29 April - The day I was in the White House and saw Obama

This was my first visit to Washington, D.C. and it was an unforgetable experience. And yes, I actually got to go inside the White House and see President Obama - no kidding! Although maybe not quite the way you think, so let me start from the beginning of my Washington adventure...

I arrived in D.C. just after 12 pm and found plenty of free parking close to the Jefferson Memorial.

As I had never been to Washington, D.C. before, I didn't really know where I was and how I would get to the places I wanted to see, but I knew that the Washington Monument was one of those places, and thankfully, that can be seen pretty much from anywhere.

After I got there, I made my way to the the War Memorial which is between the Washington Monnument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Then, on to the Lincoln Memorial...

From there, I made my way to the White House and passed the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Since I work for the German counterpart of the Federal Reserve (the Deutsche Bundesbank), I thought I might try to get a look inside. So I started making my way towards the steps. But I didn't get too far before a security guard stopped me. I told her that I work for the German central bank and was just wondering if it was possible for me to take a look inside the Federal Reserve building. The security guard said that, yes, if I had my Bundesbank ID card with me, someone might be able to show me around. But unfortunately, I had left my ID at home and so I couldn't get in. :-(

But not to worry, the real highlight was yet to come - the White House. This is the first glimpse I got of it:

I walked up closer to the White House and passed by the White House Visitor Center where I asked if it was possible to get inside the White House, but I was told that U.S. citizens would need to contact their senator first and would probably have to wait for at least two months, and foreign nationals would have to contact their embassy to get permission. So I pretty much gave up on the idea...

Then, as I walked towards the White House, I noticed some helicopters landing and a dad saying to his kids: "Do you see the three helicopters? The President is in only one of them..." (Oh, really? Not in all three of them?) As the helicopters disappeared from sight, I went as close as possible to the White House to take some more pictures:

I thought this was the front of the White House, but soon found out that it was actually the back of it.

Just a few minutes after taking these photos, I was taken by surprise... There was the sound of motorbikes and before I knew what was happening, there was a motorcade with the "Beast" passing right by that road where I stood to have my picture taken! "How crazy is that?", I thought. "I just arrive at the White House during my first time in Washington, D.C. and President Obama passes right by where I am standing!!" I quickly took out my camera to get video footage of the Beast. "Perfect!", I thought. Only once I was sure that it was all over did I press the button to stop the video recording. However, in all my excitement I had not pushed the button properly the first time, and so I only started recording once it was all over!! As I was to find out later, it wasn't President Obama but Vice President Biden who was inside the Beast. So this is all I got to show for my story - a non-video of a motorcade with Biden in the Beast. Or, better said, a video of the moments after...

After all the excitement and disappointment with my recoding skills, I went around to the front side of the White House, where I met up with a friend from college who works there for the Secret Service.

And thanks to him, I was even able to go inside the White House! That was so cool because I thought there would be no way of me getting to have a look inside! Here's a photo of me in one of the rooms inside the White House. (I can't remember the name of the room, but it's on the ground floor facing the U.S. Treasury.)

I thought I'd better not post the photo of me sitting at the desk in the Oval Office or I might get in trouble... ;-)

After that, we went up the old post office tower from where you can get a good view of the city. On this photo, you can see the distance I walked from the Washington Monument to the War Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial:

Down the tower and towards the White House again, near to the spot where I first saw the helicopters and the motorcade, and guess what I got to see next... The President's helicopter "Marine One" bringing him back to the White House from an appointment in another state!

So I did get to see the President after all! Although it was a bit difficult to make him out through the tainted windows... ;-)

I was also able to see other places, including the Capitol, but they were no longer a big deal anymore after my White House experience...

So that was Washington, D.C. in about five hours. This may be something I will be talking to my grandchildren about... =)


Thankful Paul said...

Hello! :)

MichaelLJ said...

Brilliant :) happened to me a lot when I had a movie-taking-capable camera.
And thanks for the nice pictures, even though the wheather seems to be rainy :)