A co-worker recently went on a trip to New York City and Washington D.C. (Washington D.C. educational tours pair well with New York City ones because of their proximity). I was struck by one thing he told me when I asked him how it went. He spoke excitedly about one of the museums in the Smithsonian Institution in D.C., specifically the National Museum of Natural History. His excitement was compounded by the fact that he would not have assumed this museum to be his favorite attraction before he saw it. Afterwards, though, all else paled.
Isn’t this why we travel in the first place? So we can have a favorite museum? So we can find that little sidewalk cafe no one mentioned before and eat homemade sandwiches there on the way to the attraction we actually planned on? Educational tours are for discovery. And not just the discovery of history and science and art. Not just the discovery of other places and other wonderful people who lived some time when and did that great thing once. They are also for the discovery of ourselves. So we can say, I did not realize I would love that, or, I didn’t think I would care, and, I can’t wait to return!
It’s not easy to get a tour in the White House I’ve noticed. It takes a little extra planning. Of course, online you can take a virtual tour and watch famous television tours of the House, including one by Jackie Kennedy. I bet that’s quite a show. It sounds like something I would have thrown a party for if I had lived back then – the airing of that show. I would have served little old-fashioned finger foods and made everyone where Jackie-esque attire – like the sunglasses. But I can’t imagine a virtual tour online, or even that video, can remotely compare to being there. That is one thing the technical age will really never take away from us. There will always be architecture, beauty, and attractions that are simply had to be there.