Visiting the White House
This is an absolutely great experience but it’s mandatory to plan ahead because the Secret Service must give their approval.
Despite visiting Washington D.C. dozens of times, we had never been inside the White House. All the times we visited the White House was from outside, taking pictures through the gates!
I sent an email to the Brazilian Embassy telling them that we would like to visit the White House. We filled a form with all information about passport numbers, address while in the USA and the desired period for the visit. There’s a calendar and the closest date showing availability was more than one month ahead. I guess the period between the request and the actual visit is long because the Secret Service must check background and visitor’s intentions.
After approximately 45 days, I got an email from the Brazilian Embassy informing about the authorization and the date / time for the visit.
Before entering the White House we went to the White House Visitors Center, located across the street. I highly recommend going to the Visitors Center before entering the White House. You will learn many interesting things about the construction and the first residents. There’s a free informative movie, which is excellent as well. The movie starts with the First Lady Michelle Obama welcoming you, the visitor, and finishes with the President telling you that for him its a pleasure to receive the public there. What a lovely couple they are!
After the film we saw some pictures and paintings of the house and after that we crossed the street in order to visit the most famous house of the United States, or perhaps the most famous house in the world: The White House.
It took a while to get in the house, as we had to present our documents to the Secret Police on two different locations. If you are visiting the White House You can take your cell phone (that must be turned off) and no cameras are allowed inside. It is also forbidden to carry a backpack or even a small purse. They don’t have a place to store items, so you must go there with your documents inside your pocket and nothing else.
The White House is great! All security people on the roof and around! You feel as if you are in the middle of a James Bond film! There is no charge to visit the White House and it is a self guided tour. You just follow the people in front of you. Every room has at least one agent present, and if you have any questions they are very polite and will answer you.
You can visit the first and the second floors. The third floor is where the President works, and, of course, no public is allowed there.
Two things that I found very interesting:
- All work / renovation that has been done to the White House is a “light work” . I read that if George Washington could come there today, he would recognize the White House immediately as it changed very little since it was constructed!
- All the rooms (Blue Room, Red Room, Library, etc) are kept exactly the same way since the former Presidents. No changes at all. The elected President can modify the style only on the third floor, where he and his family live. The “public part” of the White House is maintained with the same decor and furniture since ever. The furniture is superb and it impressed me the very good taste of the decoration. There are a lot of antiques (chairs, tables, vases, desks, piano) arranged in a classic way.
Although it is the most important building of the most important Country, there is no “luxury” , no “excess” and no “show off” decoration. The decor is simple and very beautiful. I loved all the rooms I saw there!
As you can guess my first language is not English 🙂 and I will receive any suggestions for vocabulary and grammar with pleasure! 🙂
Thanks and Happy Travels! 🙂