Come March, it is time for the National Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, DC. The National Mall area is great not just for history buffs. Of course you have the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian museums – all within a short walking radius. But as visit worthy as this area is year round, it takes on a special importance in Spring.
The titles of the popular Netflix series House of Cards capture the Mall area really well.
Japan gifted about 3000 cherry trees to the US post World War I as a sign of friendship. These trees line the river basin and bloom in the Spring. The Cherry Blossom Festival is held around this time and is a big do in DC. There is a peak blooming period, and just like Fall foliage, you need to be lucky to be able to behold the sight.
I spent a few years in Virginia and I was fortunate enough to be able to witness these glorious flowering cherry trees more than twice. The street I lived on also had its share of cherry trees which signaled spring with a riot of colorful blooms. But obviously not on the scale of the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is probably more attractive to visitors and people who are in the area for a short time. How many Punekars visit the Aga Khan Palace or Raja Kelkar museum, or have even been there once?
Washington, DC is a big hub as far as air travel is concerned. So it is very easy to fly in. People living in the North just have to drive down I-95 South. For people from the South, the northbound I-95 will get you to the area. This is a time when the whole city is crowded and the area is jam packed. Trains are overflowing, but the Metro is still the best way to travel locally at this time, rather than trying to find parking in the Mall area, which is a challenge at the best of times.
Depending on which part of the city you are in, pick a main or source station, that is, the starting point of a line.
Vienna, the starting point of the Orange line is the most convenient for people traveling up from Richmond. Board the train and get down at Smithsonian station. Step out and you will be surrounded by a sea of cherry blossoms.
Years ago, it was rare to find Indian movies playing at your neighborhood theater, at least in small towns. So taking in a Bollywood movie always went hand in hand with a visit to DC. So did gorging on the lavish Indian buffet at Minerva restaurant.
I’d say the cherry blossoms are more a harbinger of spring than Punxsutawney Phil. At least they stand firmly above the ground! 🙂