A 1958 Class Trip to Washington DC

A Trip to Washington DC

In the late spring of 1958, the eight grade class of my Catholic School in Wisconsin made a weekend trip to visit the sights in and around Washington D.C.. Being my first travel away from home, it was an interesting and very exciting experience which I will always treasure.

In this article, I reflect on the train trip and the historical sights which I toured in and around our nation’s Capitol.
Preparation for Class Trip

At the beginning of 1958, my Saint Thomas Aquinas School eight grade teacher, Sister Salutaria, suggested a class trip to Washington D.C. prior to our graduation. The chosen time frame was on a weekend in late May. We would depart by train on a Friday afternoon and return to Wisconsin on Monday morning. In Washington we would learn about American history by visiting the White House, the Capitol Building, and even tour President Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Originally I feared that I would not be able to make the trip because my parents were poor farmers and could not afford to pay the cost for the trip. Fortunately a local Waterford businessman took care of the $50 cost for train fares, one night in a D.C. hotel, and sightseeing excursion expenses.
The B&O Railway
The B&O Columbian passing over the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry in 1949.
The B&O Columbian passing over the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry in 1949. | Source
Train Travel from Milwaukee to Washington

After what seemed like an eternity, the day of the long-awaited school trip arrived. On a warm Friday morning in late May, I set out for school with a small used suitcase.

Following the attendance at an 8:00 Mass at the school church, our eighth grade class departed Waterford for Milwaukee. We were accompanied by a few seventh grade students, Sister Salutaria, and about three parent escorts.

Early Friday afternoon, we arrived at the Milwaukee Road Station in downtown Milwaukee. It was now time for the 90 minute commuter train ride from Milwaukee to Chicago, There must have been 25-30 kids in our group, and we had a joyous time on the first leg of our journey.
It was now time to begin our 15 hour train ride adventure from Chicago to Washington D.C..

Since this was my first time out of Wisconsin, I marvelled at the size of Chicago as we slowly pulled away from the station. Probably at around 6:00, we were led to the dining car for dinner. I cannot remember exactly what I had, but the food seemed very delicious. While looking out of the coach window, I asked a conductor if we had finally departed Chicago. The reply was that we were still going through East Chicago and would soon be entering Gary, Indiana. Never had I realized that Chicago was so vast.

At around midnight, I remember gazing out the window and seeing the sky lit up with fire coming from stacks. A passing conductor pointed out that we were now passing by Pittsburg which was the steel capital of the U.S. at that time.

After being entertained with fireworks better than any Fourth of July celebration, I finally fell asleep in my coach seat and didn’t awaken until dawn. As i opened my eyes, I heard voices saying that we were now going by Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. From my American history study in school, I knew that John Brown was killed there leading a slave insurrection around 1860.

Having crossed the Potomac River and left Harper’s Ferry, the train now cruised through the green meadows of Maryland. It was now less than one hour before we would be arriving at Union Station in Washington D.C., our final destination.
The White House
Top is north facade facing LaFayette Square. Bottom is south facade facing the Ellipse.
Top is north facade facing LaFayette Square. Bottom is south facade facing the Ellipse. | Source
Washington Monument
Saturday Morning Activities in Washington D.C.

I’m guessing that it was between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. when our B&O train pulled into Union Station in Washington. A big tour bus was expecting us, and our first stop was at the White House. All I can remember is going into a big white building and being led past a few big rooms on the first floor. Evidently I didn’t pay attention to where I was, because I didn’t realize I had been in the White House until a few minutes after our group had left!

Our next stop was done Pennysylvania Avenue at the U.S. Capitol Building. We had learned from our history class that the U.S.Senate and House of Representatives convened meetings in the Capitol. After being hypnotized by the architecture and especially the Rotunda, we were allowed to ascend to the gallery and have a view of the chamber where the U.S. Senate convenes. No legislative sessions were being held on the Saturday morning when we visited, but it was still interesting to see where history has been made. Following a 30 minute stay, our group assembled in front of the Capitol for a photo. How I wish I still had that picture to share with my readers.

The final attraction on Saturday morning was a visit to the Washington Monument. Located on the Mall about halfway between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, construction began in 1848 and was completed in 1888. It is a 555 foot edifice, and upon our arrival we had the choice of either riding an elevator to the top or climbing the inside steps. All of the boys in my class decided to take the steps and look at the various huge stones which were assembled for the Monument. After walking up to the top, we peered out of the windows and had a great view of Washington D.C.. I remember running down the steps as in some sort of race with my classmates.

Take Your Scout Troop to Washington DC

You Can Do It Cheap!

Destination: Washington DC With Your Troop!

We DID IT! We (my co-leader & I) took 8 Brownies to Washington DC and survived! I want to share some of the information I have gathered to help you plan a trip for your Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop trip to Washington DC.

I have been to Washington DC 4 times, the most recently on August, 2009. I have updated the photos in this lens with the photos from our most recent trip.

This information was designed to help Girl Scout & Boy Scout troops, but families can also use the information to create a unique experience for themselves!

Are you planning to visit Washington DC for the “Rock the Mall” event in June, 2012? There is probably something here for you!

Unless otherwise stated: All photos copyright GSLakeMom.
Why Should I Take My Troop to Washington DC?

Washington DC is a city full of things to see for ALL ages. And the best news – most of these things are FREE. Perfect for families, Scout troops and schools. The problem with the city is that many schools within driving distance send school children to the city at some time from 5th grade through middle school. So parents may say – why should I pay for 2 trips for my child to go to Washington DC?

So – your challenge as a Troop leader is to make it different from a school field trip they could take. You can make it unique by where you stay, how you get there, what you see/do while you are there and maybe do a service project (how about placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solder?!). You can also have the troop experience something they may not experience as a school group – The DC Metro! This is a great way to get around Washington DC and a great experience for everyone! There are also some Girl Scout patches (and I’m sure Boy Scout as well) that can be earned while in Washington DC.

You can use a tour group to organize your tour. You can still tell them what attractions/monuments you want to go to. They will do ALL of the leg work for you. The cost will be similar to what it will cost for that child to go on the school trip and possibly offer a similar experience.

There is so much information on Washington DC on the Internet and there are so many FREE (all of the monuments!) things to do in the city that the only real costs are lodging, transportation and food. It is really simple to plan a 3 day trip to Washington DC!
Planing, Planning, and More Planning

When taking a group on a trip there is a lot of planning to do. You have to look at costs for a larger group and take into consideration what your council requires before you can take a big trip. Please submit all proper paperwork to your council before you get too far along on the planning process (before deposits are made!). Once you get their approval – full speed ahead!

Transportation – how to get to Washington DC – cheap!
Lodging – different places to stay that are reasonable for a group.
Attractions/Memorials – This one is super easy in Washington DC!
Dining – How to eat in Washington DC – cheap!
Fund raising- Ideas to raise money to get to Washington DC

Transporation to Washington DC

There are many different ways to get to Washington DC. You could get all your parents to drive (making sure that everyone has the proper paperwork!) to the city. Then you have to worry about parking or making sure that everyone gets there and no one gets lost on the way.

You could rent a full-size van. (Check with your council for the proper procedures.) If your troop size is small enough this could be a viable option. There is the cost of renting a full-size van and gas to consider.

If you are working with a travel group, you will have the option of a tour bus. They can be very comfortable to travel in. They usually have DVD player to keep everyone occupied while traveling. They get to worry about parking, etc.

For those on the other side of the country, there is the option of taking an airplane. This could also be a new experience for the troop – a first airplane ride. Depending on your location will determine how cost effective this option is for you and your troop.

Another option (the one that we used!) is to take the train. This is an experience that many may not have had before so this may be something that makes it unique enough for some parents to feel better about 2 trips to Washington DC. We got a really great group rate price for the train! The travel time is similar to traveling by car or bus. We arrived at Union Station which is right in the middle of downtown Washington DC. The only “problem” with the train is that we had to take our suitcases and walk with our group to our lodging in the city. This could be a problem for some groups. Our troop were great little troopers! The walk took about 30 minutes. Everyone had rolling suitcases and backpacks to make it easy. The other troop that we traveled with got a taxi to take their luggage to the hostel. The cost was reasonable enough. If we had to do it again, on the day that we departed we would have taken the taxi to the train station. It was a warm day and the girls were tired from walking all day.

Things to Do with Kids in and around Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia has plenty of family-friendly activities!

My wife and I have three wonderful kids, a fifteen-year old boy, a thirteen-year old girl and a ten-year old boy. We’re always on the lookout for fun (and different) things to do in the Northern Virginia area.

Please take a minute to rate my lens and/or leave feedback in my Guestbook. The more feedback you provide, the better this lens will be. Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. Follow me on Twitter for more frequent updates… @NoVADadLenses
Save $5 at Madame Tussauds
Show your SmarTrip card and save!

I received the following email from WMATA (Metro) yesterday:

Metro has partnered with Madame Tussauds, Washington, DC to reward you with valuable savings just by showing your SmarTrip® card. Just present your SmarTrip® card at the time of purchase and receive $5 off an adult admission ticket. Bring friends and family, this offer is valid for up to 8 guests. Offer expires 12/31/13.

Take Metrorail to Madame Tussauds at 1001 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Red, Blue, Orange lines – Exit Metro Center – 11th and G Streets, NW

Red, Green, Yellow lines – Exit Gallery Place – 9th and G Streets, NW

This discount offer is not valid for advance ticket purchases and cannot be combined with any other offers. The Madame Tussauds may close for special events, so please call 1-866-823-9565 or visit their website for updates www.madametussaudsDC.com.

Enjoy Madame Tussauds and thanks for riding Metro!

I couldn’t find any official press release or web page confirming this coupon; however, Unsuck DC Metro has a blog post about the same e-mail.
The circus is coming…
Lions, tigers and bears… oh my!

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus is coming to the Washington, D.C. area. Shows at the Verizon Center will take place from March 20th to March 24th. The circus makes a stop in Northern Virginia at the Patriot Center from April 10th to April 21st. More details to come…
Do you like movies?

If you like movies, check out my newest lens, DC Film Festivals. I’m just getting started with this lens and will be adding content regularly.
National Museum of the Marine Corps
National Museum of the Marine Corps
National Museum of the Marine Corps

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is located about 35 miles south of Washington, D.C. in Triangle, VA. The museum is very easy to get to. From D.C., take I-95 South to exit 150A and follow the signs to the museum. As your approach the musesum, you’ll see the stunning design of the building, which evokes the iconic photograph of Marines raising the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima. There’s plenty of parking.

The first thing we did upon entering the musesum was to watch the brief 15-minute movie about the Marine Corps. The film was a series of interviews with current (and former) Marines that was a patriotic, yet honest and gritty, look at what being a Marine means. The movie runs every twenty minutes starting at the top of the hour. For you afficianados of military time, that’s 00, 20 and 40.

In the central gallery, there are several life-sized displays that all visitors will be awed at, especially the youngest ones. In addition to aircraft hanging from the ceiling, there are a couple of large displays, including a helicopter and simulated beach landing.

The permanent exhibits in the museum are laid out in sections chronologically, starting with the birth of the Marine Corps in 1775. The first exhibit that we visited was Making a Marine. Starting with the bus that transports the new recruits, the exhibit walks visitors through the intake process. As you walk past the bus, you immediately notice the series of footprints, heels touching with toes pointed outward at an angle, painted on the ground. Next to the bus is a barber’s chair and a series of changing photos that show young recruits before and after their first haircut. My two younger kids enjoyed this part of the museum the most. There are plenty of interactive hands-on activities, including a backpack to lift, pull up bars to pull up on and even a firing range where you can try your hand at shooting a laser beam using an M-16 at targets downrange. There is an additional cost ($5 in July 2011) for this activity. Each participant gets 10 shots. The M-16 is heavy and can be difficult for a small child to hold. There are stands that you can use to help steady the weapon. At the end of the 10 shots, you get a printout that shows you where each shot fell on the target.

The permanent exhibits in the musesum are impressive in the amount of information provided, as well as the quality of the pieces shown. If you like military memorabilia, you’ll love the Marine Corps Museum. You can see the Marine Corps uniform as it changes over the years. There are hundreds of flags, medals, swords, weapons and vehicles (ground, air and water) throughout the museum. Kids will love the larger displays where you, the museum goer, are part of the action. One minute, you’ve boarded an amphibious vehicle ready to storm the beachhead, the next minute, you’re outdoors in the dead of winter helping defend your position from the relentless enemy. All in all, the exhibits are extremely well done, with the right combination of information and objects to look at and interact with.

The museum has two restaurants, both located on the second floor. The Mess Hall is a casual, cafeteria style restaurant. On the day we visited, the Mess Hall was serving typical fare like pizza, hot dogs and cheese fries. The second is Tun’s Tavern, a slightly more upscale sit-down place. While we didn’t eat at either restaurant during our visit, the prices in both restaurants were very reasonable. There is a museum store that carries all kinds of Marine Corps sourvenirs. Again, the prices in the store seemed reasonable compared to other muesum stores I’ve visited. If you prefer to bring your own lunch, there is an outdoor picnic area with a great looking playground.

The Marine Corps Muesum is open daily, except Christmas, and is a terrific place to visit for adults and kids alike. For more information, check out the Marine Corps Museum web site.
Are you a sports fan?

If you (of someone you love) is a sports fan, check out my DC Sports Squidoo Lens. Recent posts include Potomac Nationals single game tickets going on sale and the UVA Cavaliers football team holding a spring scrimmage in Alexandria.
Laser tag fun in Sterling, VA

My son and I joined a group of middle-school aged kids from our church and went to LaserNation in Sterling, VA to play laser tag on a recent Friday night. LaserNation is located in the same strip mall as Big Lots, but the front of the store is not visible from the main entrance, so you may have to look for it. Our group, one adult and six kids, arrived at LaserNation around 8PM and each one of us purchased an all-night, unlimited laser tag pass for $13.

After we paid for our unlimited pass, we were given individual wrist bands to wear. Each band has a specific color and you’re playing with the same group of people that have the same colored wristband. On the night we visited, there were two other groups that had the same color wristbands as we did. One group had about 10 people, mostly adults. The other groups was 10 teenagers. When your color is announced, you head to the briefing room. In the briefing room, the Game Master briefs you on the game. Our Game Master was a tall, lanky teenage boy (high school junior/senior, perhaps?) who did a good job reciting the rules and answering the handful of questions that the adults asked. The stated “goal” of the game is a form of three-way capture-the-flag, but, based on my experience, it quickly becomes a free-for-all, every-person-for-himself (most laser tag participants seem to be teenage boys) shooting extravaganza 🙂

We stayed at LaserNation for about two hours and played four games of laser tag. I’m not sure how long the actual gameplay lasts, but the time flies by quickly while you’re playing. You spend most of your time in the briefing room (prior to playing), vesting (getting your vest on) or waiting for your score (after the game is done).

In between games, there isn’t a whole lot to do. Like many others laser tag places, LaserNation has a handful of arcade games, including classics such as Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, and Ocean Hunter. Most of the games were priced between $0.50 and $0.75 so pack plenty of quarters (or dollars, since there is a change machine). Our group ate dinner prior to going to LaserNation so we didn’t eat there. I saw a couple of vending machines. Sodas were $1.25 and snacks were around a dollar. The prices didn’t seem outrageously high. While the web site claims that they can accommodate groups up to 200 people, I’m really not sure where those people who weren’t actively playing laser tag would stand or sit. There are a couple of open areas for people to sit while waiting for their game to start. There were a few party rooms, but we didn’t get a chance to look at those.

Overall, it was a fun experience. While I’m not a hardcode laser tag enthusiast, I had a fun time playing at LaserNation. It’s definitely fun to go with a group of people.
D.C. Metro: Passing Train
D.C. Metro: Passing Train
Metro (WMATA)
A convenient, but pricey, way to get around Virginia, D.C., and Maryland

The D.C. Metro system (officially known as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority or WMATA) is a great way get around with the metropolitan D.C. area (which includes D.C., Virginia and Maryland). While Metro includes rail, bus and accessibility services, this post will focus primarily on the subway (rail) system. Those of you who live or work in the D.C. area may want to skip to the end of this post for my tips on traveling on Metro with your family.

The Metro (or Metrorail) system serves 86 stations and covers 106 miles of track. The subway system is open from 5AM. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 5AM to 3AM on Friday, 7AM to 3AM on Saturday, and 7AM to midnight on Sunday. Metro does occasionally extend their operating hours for large public events such as the Presidential Inauguration or the Marine Corps Marathon. In addition, Metro has single-tracked trains, which causes delays, or even closed stations for emergeny or maintenance purposes. During the most recent big snowstorm in the D.C. area (December 2009), Metro had to close its above-ground stations to prevent weather-related breakdowns in service. Check the Metro web site for updated service information.

As of January 2010, regular (or peak) Metro fares range from $1.65 to $4.50. Peak fares are typically charged during weekday morning and afternoon rush hours. Off-peak fares (all other days and times) range between $1.35 and $2.35. Up to two children, 4 years and younger, ride free with each adult paying full fare. Children 5 and older pay adult fares. Everyone who must pay a fare must have his own fare card.

Metro offers a paper fare card as well as a Smartrip card, a plastic rechargeable fare card. If you’re visiting the D.C. area for a short period of time and don’t need to pay for parking, it probably doesn’t make sense to buy a Smartrip card. Metro charges a $5 surcharge for the purchase of a Smartrip card. You can buy a Smartrip card online or at certain Metrorail stations. You can buy the paper fare cards with cash or credit/debit cards at all stations. Most, if not all, of the stations that have parking lots and/or garages sell the Smartrip card.

In addition, Metro does offer Metrorail passes, although they’re not promoted or advertised much. A one-day pass, valid for one day of unlimited Metrorail travel on weekdays after 9:30 a.m. or all day on Saturdays, Sundays, and some federal holidays, goes for $7.80. Metro also offers a 7-day short trip pass and a 7-day fast pass. Check this WMATA web page for more details.

Here are my tips for families traveling on the Metro. First, please walk on the left and stand on the right on all stairs and escalators in and around the Metro system, especially during weekday rush hour. Second, all Metro trains are stopping at the front end of all platforms. Eight-car trains will fill the entire platform; however, shorter trains will have space behind them on the platform. You should wait in the middle or towards the front platform. Third, if you’re going to use the paper fare card, you feed the card (the card will show what direction it should go) in the front part of the gate and the card is returned to you via a slot on top of the gate. You must take the card out before the fare gate will open. Fourth, if you’re going to park in one of the Metro parking lots or garages during a normal weekday (when Metro does collect a parking fee), check to see if the Metro station where you want to park accepts credit cards. If the station doesn’t accept credit cards — some stations, like Franconia-Springfield have specific gates that accept credit card payment — you’ll need to buy a Smartrip card to pay the parking fee to exit the parking lot. Fifth, please be careful when riding Metro escalators. While it doesn’t happen often, passengers especially kids, have been known to get their shoes or clothing stuck on the escalator. Also, some of the escalators, like Wheaton (Red line) and Rosslyn (Blue and Orange line), are pretty tall (long?), so you definitely don’t want to play on those. Lastly, eating and drinking is prohibited on the Metro. Please help to keep the Metrorail system clean!

I hope I haven’t scared you away from using the Metro. Despite the many caveats in the post, the Metro is a great way for families to get in and around the D.C. metropolitan area. Please leave feedback on my lens with your questions or tips on using Metro.

Companies That Offer Discount Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is gaining notoriety when it comes to flooring of homes owing to the green revolution along with the much elegance that it provides. Though homes are some of the most lucrative investments one can have, every potential investor is looking to access discount cork flooring for their homes. Kitchen tiles are no exemption to this trend and identifying hefty discounts is key to ensuring that you attain maximum elegance at an affordable price.

A crucial step in ensuring you that you access the best and affordable prices for cork kitchen tiles. Forna cork flooring is one of the companies with a longstanding reputation in production cork tiles that are both best in design and durability while retailing at affordable prices. Basing in various forms of cork flooring, kitchen cork tiles are also a big specialty that Forna cork flooring prides itself in. applying German technology in production of this company provides some of the most recognized cork flooring products worldwide. This commitment to quality and safety has been instrumental in seeing Forna cork flooring products receive honorable certificates of exemplary performance in both the United States of America and even Europe. If you are looking for reputable companies that offer admirable discounts on cork kitchen tiles then Forna cork flooring should top your list of searches.

Build Direct is also a company that specializes in production of building materials of high quality together with discount cork flooring. This company enjoys recognition for a number of flooring materials coupled with exemplary service that is bound to guarantee high customer satisfaction. Having established its branches in several parts of the world, purchases are sure to be delivered on time at specified locations which will save you the hustle of shipping and transportation if you are located far from the major store rooms. Discount prices from this company are lucrative with up to 80% of the prices cut off to ensure you get the best cork tiles for your kitchen an affordable price. This company also provides a thirty day money back guarantee in the event that the delivered materials are not of the quality envisioned by the customer together with paying the return shipping.

Icorkfloor is reputable company that one may wish to consider in accessing cork kitchen tiles of high quality and durability at affordable prices. With its numerous offer of different colors and designs discount cork flooring is a plus in many dimensions and prices per tile are slashed off after some coupons have deducted. Customers can enjoy prices as low as $0.88 per tile. Being one of the most trusted and oldest stores dealing in discount flooring customers are able to get direct discounts from the factory on branded flooring. Prices are generally fixed at wholesale and high speed shipping. The company also provides hefty discounts that culminate into unbeatable prices for anyone wishing to purchase their goods together with free expert advice to allow you get the best flooring materials for your needs. If you are looking for a service to change the look of your home, then you need to choose the best company.

Common Problems In Website Design

In recent years, companies specializing in website design have been realizing great profits, and their success continues to grow at a rapid pace. There is good reason for this continuing upward growth trend, given the changing mechanics of doing business and the way in which the world wide web now figures into the business equations of every major company around the world. Web page design is an intimate part of creating an online presence for a company or business, and when done right, it dramatically increases the exposure of the company to the public, but when done wrong, it can cause a great deal of irritation or annoyance among potential customers.

One mistake that many companies make when creating or commissioning their websites is to include PDF files. Of course, the creators of those web pages feel justified including PDF files because they feel that there is too much important information to be effectively conveyed on a regular web page and hence the page is created in the PDF format. The problem with that, however, is that most internet users do not appreciate being directed to a PDF page because it interrupts the flow of their browsing experience. A much better way to go about providing the information is to create a web page with a summary of the information, and including a link at the top of the page that allows users to download the PDF file if they wish, instead of incorporating it as a web page.

Formatting of text content is often also a big issue with poorly designed websites. Visitors to websites are usually looking for information presented in a manner that is easy to take in at once, without the need to bring too much focus or attention to bear on it. Some websites, however, have large blocks of text on their web pages, which will immediately cause most visitors to the site to lose interest.

Advertising is another common area of difficulty when it comes to commercial websites. Many websites make use of advertising in order to generate revenue, and many services that would otherwise require users to pay are free because of the revenue generated by advertising. Some sites go overboard, however, and place so many advertisements on their websites that the site content is almost overwhelmed by the advertisements. In addition, some websites also allow pop-up advertising, which most internet users really dislike. While a certain amount of advertising is understandable and acceptable, the amount should be minimized in order not to discourage visitors to the site from browsing through the site content.

The problems described above are really problems that can be easily avoided. It takes experience to recognize such problems, however, and most people without extensive experience designing and creating websites will not have the requisite experience to identify these problems. In order to ensure that your company’s website design does not suffer from similar problems, you should always engage a reputable web page design company to design and create your website. Of course, you will still retain full authority over how you would like the site to look, but the design company will be able to point out any flaws in the feature that you desire and suggest viable alternatives.

New York City: Take A Bite Out Of The Big Apple.

Take a bite, or many bites, out of The Big Apple. So we took the New Jersey Transit to New York City. The modern coach bus goes to the 42nd Street Port Authority. The Port Authority is one of the many hubs of ground transportation in NYC. Most of your major bus companies are located there and you can make connections with almost every subway line via a walking tunnel to Times Square. The rail hubs are Grand Central Station, connected by subway shuttle from Times Square, and Penn Station, a two-stop jaunt on the subway. The subway system in Manhattan is the quickest and most efficient form of transportation on the island, with stops within four to six blocks of each other. The system used to be confusing with many independent lines designated by different letters: IRT, BMT, etc. Today the various routes are designated by colors and either numbers or letters. A map shows all of the routes and their connecting points. The subways system today is very easy to follow. It is also safe, contrary to some people’s perceptions. Here are a few little known facts about the system. The tunnels go at least eight stories below the ground. There are miles of mazes even under the tubes themselves, where the homeless have made their homes. On one of the lines from Manhattan to Queens, the tracks literally ride on water under the East River. Even engineers do not know how to correct the problem. The money collected at the ticket booths is sent by a special train which travels the system. The trains are very long, at least ten cars in length. Most of the cars have benches along the sides, which leaves most of the car for standing room. There are three exits on each side of the car, which allows quick entrance and egress. The riders are called strap hangers, because they hold on to straps hanging from the ceiling while riding. The newer cars post the next stop on signs in the car. Some even have a map of the route and the present location of the car lit up on the map.

The city of New York consists of five Boroughs: Kings (Manhattan), Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Richmond (Staten Island). All of the boroughs are connected by subway or train or bus, except for Staten Island which is serviced by the famed ferry. More about the different areas when we visit them.

Went for desert at Café Lalo, where part of the movie “You’ve Got Mail” was filmed. Then we walked up Broadway to Fairfield Market, a few blocks South of World famous Zabars, a grocery and kitchen appliance store (but so much more: an experience). I was surprised by the variety of fresh produce and meats, fish, and poultry and relatively low prices. The aisles are very narrow in the store, due to the fact that space is at a premium in Manhattan. Buy an unlimited Metro Pass, $21.00 for the week, and hop on a Downtown bound bus on Broadway. Downtown means towards the Battery, the Southernmost point of Manhattan.

Uptown is Northbound and Cross-town is either to the East River(East Side) or the Hudson River(West Side). What a wonderful and safe way to see the city. We passed by Columbus Circle, the edge of Central Park, Julliard, Lincoln Center, the Theater District, and of course glitzy vibrant Times Square. The bus then turned East on 42nd Street and passed by the Public Library, Grand Central Station, and ended at The United Nations Building.

As long as fate brought us there, we toured the famed United Nations building. Mati from Senegal in Western Africa, was our tour guide and was very knowledgeable about the workings of the UN. It is not the paper tiger that some people claim it is. It is a real forum for all of the nations of the world to discuss mutual concerns: military conflicts, land mines, disease, hunger, trade, etc. Perhaps the real tigers are the ones who want to control the other nations or make huge profits by fostering these problems. Some of the Chambers were in use, namely the Security Council, and the Council for Economic and Social Justice. They were in session.

The Lexington Avenue bus goes further Downtown. Along the way we passed Chinatown, the Bowery, Little Italy, skirted Greenwich Village, and ended at city hall. There are so many different types of restaurants in NY that you could eat at a different one every single night and not repeat yourself for your entire lifetime.

Today we rode the subways. First we went Uptown to the Northern tip of Manhattan to Tryon Park and the fort. This is the highest point on Manhattan, overlooking both the Hudson and the East Rivers. At the northern most point of the park is The Cloisters Museum. This unique museum consists of five medieval cloisters rescued from buildings being demolished in Europe, along with chapels and numerous artifacts. Some of the statuary was being used as scarecrows by farmers, while others were found in junk piles. One outstanding room is the Unicorn Tapestries, which tell of the hunt, death, and resurrection of the unicorn-a symbol of Jesus Christ. The tapestries contain over one hundred different species of medieval plants woven into the stories. They are just breathtaking not only from their beauty but also from the textures of the weave.

We went back to Times Square and then hopped on the route #7 subway to Queens and Flushing Meadows, the site of the 1963 Worlds Fair with its massive sculpture of the world. On either side of the train station are Shea Stadium, home of the NY Mets baseball team and Arthur Ashe Stadium, site of the US Open Tennis Tournament. Back on the train to Times Square and on to W route to Coney Island at the tip of Brooklyn. We ate a Nathan’s World Famous Hot Dog. It cannot compare to a Chicago Vienna Hot Dog. The amusement park was closed, open only on weekends while school is in session. The Cyclone, their famous roller coaster, had just closed up. Thank our growling stomachs for this lack of timing. It is open daily from 12:00 to 4:00. The coaster does not look like much. But looks are deceiving. This baby shakes, rattles, and rolls. I wanted to see if it still gave me the same thrills as the last time I rode it in 1963. But that was to be for a later day, which never came.

This day was reserved to visit the grand dame of New York City, the Statue of Liberty. Taking the train to Battery Park at the lower tip of Manhattan, we purchased our tickets at the Castle Clinton, once a fortress guardian for the harbor, then a concert venue (the American debut of Jenny Lind), then an immigration port of entry, and now the ticket office for our lady. Circular in design, it is only fitting that one must pass through a fortress to gain access to greet the great lady. On the fifteen minute boat trip to Governors Island it is easy to imagine the awe and deep feelings of overwhelming joy of the millions of immigrants who first envisioned her while sailing through the Verrazano Narrows into New York Harbor. The statue, donated by France over one hundred years ago, stands on another fort, one of five which guarded the harbor. The pedestal rises eleven stories and the lady herself stands one hundred fifty-one feet. Once again security is very tight and visitors are not allowed either in the museum, on the pedestal, or into the crown. But just being in her presence was as said in Hebrew, “Dayenu” (It would have been enough).

Embarking on the boat again we went to Ellis Island, built in 1892 to process the great flood of immigrants. Both of our ancestors arrived before that date, so they might have come through Castle Clinton, AKA, Gardens or a different port of entry. Charlie Walker was our Ranger tour guide. Once a drill instructor, he has a voice to match. He also missed his calling to the stage, because the tour he gave was more of a living presentation with a cast of characters than a boring recitation of facts and figures. He definitely loves his job. The experience of Ellis Island was reserved for passengers in steerage class. Remembering the movie “Titanic”, steerage was the lowest of the low. The passengers in first and second class were processed on board ship. After they disembarked, the ship proceeded to Ellis Island. There the steerage class ran the gauntlet of the eyes of the inspectors. I was reminded of the pictures of the holocaust where the prisoners were “selected”. If you walked funny, protested, or looked frail, your clothing was chalk-marked for further inspection and processing. Many of these people were fleeing tyrannical regimes and were terrified of uniformed men. Here in America they were being ordered about by more men. Families were separated, while the processing took place- men on one side and women and children on the other side of the room. The good news is that the process generally took less than five hours and only 2% of the twelve million immigrants were deported back to their home lands. The ones who remained took the trains Westbound out of New Jersey or stayed in NYC, digging the subways or other back breaking jobs.

Arriving back at Battery Park we walked to Broadway. At the entrance was the sculpture of the Peace Globe which stood in the World Trade Center Plaza. Miraculously it withstood the tragedy and is now at the foot of Broadway being kept vigil by an eternal flame. Although damaged, the globe still stands for peace in this world.

Walked through the financial district, which looks like a war zone, barricades and armed police patrolling the area. Our goal was Federal Hall at the corners of Nassau, Broad and Wall streets. Federal Hall was the first capital of the United States. Here Washington was sworn in as president and the Congress met. The building has long been torn down. In its place is a Neo-Classical designed building, Parthenon-like exterior and Pantheon-like interior. Used as a customs house and then as a depository for US gold reserves during the Civil War, it is now a museum remembering our first capital. One of their prized possessions is the Bible which Washington used for his inauguration (the one that President Bartlett wanted to use on “The West Wing”)

Walking down famed Wall Street, where never have so many been raped by so few (written over five years ago), we went into Trinity Church where many come to pray after losing their life savings down the street. Built in 1696, the church has withstood many Wall Street crashes. Notable people buried there include Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton.

Many people talked to us about visiting St. John the Divine Cathedral. Happily, we took their advice. Started in 1892, this Gothic house of worship is over two football fields in length. The cathedral is still unfinished, but is still spectacular. Each set of stained glass windows has a different theme: poetry, medicine, law, etc. Standing in the immense interior is a humbling experience not to be missed. Around the high altar are side chapels, one which is reserved for local artists to show their work. At this time the children from the Cathedral’s school have their artwork on display.

From St John’s is a short bus ride to Grant’s tomb, where he and his wife lay at rest. The interior is similar to Napoleon’s tomb in Paris. Mrs.Grant chose New York, because the people were kind to them after they had become penniless. The tomb sits high on the palisades overlooking Riverside Park and the Hudson River.

Adjacent to the tomb is Sukaru Park, so named because of the numerous cherry trees in the park, which were donated by the Japanese government. In the park is a statue of General Daniel Butterworth, the composer of Taps (remember Berkeley Plantation in Virginia). He is looking over to Grant’s tomb, keeping his eyes on that hallowed ground.

Across the street is Riverside Church, a Presbyterian Church noted for its grand carillon of over seventy bells. The nave of the church is Gothic in style, but not quite as large St. John’s. The Church is part of Union Theological Seminary, which is connected with Columbia University also present in the neighborhood.

Hopped on the train again to Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace. This is a large brownstone at 28 East 20th Street. The original house was torn down and a reconstructed one was erected according the similar design plans of others in the neighborhood. His sisters, still alive gave instructions about floor plans and the arrangement of furniture in the house, as they had remembered. Roosevelt, born in to a very wealthy family, suffered from asthma. After losing his first wife and mother within the same week, he moved out to North Dakota to find himself. There he rediscovered his love for nature and the independence of the common working man. To prove his virility, he longed for a war, which he got when the Battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The Spanish were blamed for the sinking. He formed the Rough Riders in San Antonio, Texas, and the rest is history. Of his presidency he claimed that the building of the Panama Canal was his greatest achievement. Even though he was a war monger and empire builder, he is the first American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his help in ending the Russian Japanese War.

A short distance South is Greenwich Village, not quite the Bohemian atmosphere it was in the 60s. It is still a thriving area of restaurants, small theaters, interesting shops, and people watching. Washington Square, the quasi-official entrance to the area, still has its checker and chess tables set up with games constantly going on.

Stopped by Lincoln Center and bought tickets for the New York City Ballet’s Matinee Performance. Lincoln Center, at 64th and Broadway is the Performing Arts complex of New York City. Flanking a beautiful fountain, which has been a focal point in many movies are the Metropolitan Opera House dead ahead, Avery Fisher Hall on the right, home of the New York Philharmonic, and New York State Theater on the left, home of the New York City Ballet. Just outside of the horseshoe is Julliard School of music.

Attended the Ballet. On the program were Concerto Barocco, Sinfonia, Symphony in Three Movements, and Carnival of the Animals. Music was by Bach, Stravinsky, and Saint-Saens respectively. The corps de ballet under George Balanchine was noted for its precision and beauty in the details and technique. Today that toe shoe should be handed over to the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.

A new production of an old ballet was on today’s schedule, The Carnival of the Animals. The choreographer is Christopher Wheeldon, a great talent at the age of twenty-nine. He asked John Lithgow, star of “Third Rock from the Sun”, to write a narrative for the ballet. Mr. Lithgow has written numerous children’s books and jumped at the opportunity. His story is of a young boy, Oliver, locked in a Natural History Museum for the night. The animals come alive, but they resemble people from his own personal life. The costuming give hints of the animals depicted and the narrative brings the different parts together seamlessly. Mr. Lithgow acts as the narrator and has the part of the Elephant, Oliver’s school nurse. This ballet is very entertaining, both in its humor and choreography.

Washington D.C. and Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown – Educational Tour

If an educational travel group is bound for Washington D.C. and the educators wish to expand that group’s exploration of our nation’s history, a visit to Virginia is in order. Just 2 ½ hours south of Washington D.C. by bus, Early American history awaits in Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement.

In 2007, Historic Jamestown celebrates its 400th Anniversary of the settlement of the English Colonies. This year kicks off many living history programs that explain the early colonial era from diverse perspectives. Even after 2007 is complete, many of these educational programs and exhibits will stay in place so the student traveler may learn from them, even if they do not make their visit during the 400th anniversary year.

The challenge for any educational travel company is how to make all of these destinations work for one student travel tour. For a four to five day tour, it takes advance planning and coordination to include educational tour highlights of Washington D.C. and Williamsburg & Jamestown in one tour — with many participants.

Here are some of the highlights I include in my company’s student travel tour of Washington D.C., Williamsburg & Jamestown:

Washington D.C.

Student travel groups enjoy a guided tour of the complete Washington D.C. area that includes sites such as The Capitol, The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, Supreme Court, National Archives and more. Students may also visit sites in Northern Virginia such as Mount Vernon and the Arlington Cemetery. As with all of our student travel groups, accommodations are in three diamond interior corridor suburban hotel, with 24-hour security provided.

Williamsburg Virginia

After two days of touring the Washington D.C. area, students embark on a short 2 ½ hour journey to Williamsburg Virginia to experience the colonial era with living history on the educational program. The Colonial Williamsburg complete sightseeing tour will include a visit to 18th Century historical buildings such as the Capitol and the Courthouse, the Public Hospital of 1773, Raleigh Tavern, and the Peyton Randolph House.

Jamestown Settlement Virginia

Jamestown Settlement is a recreation of the first English settlement in Virginia, Jamestown Island. Student travel groups will see replicas of the ships that made the journey from England: the Discovery, the Godspeed and Susan Constant. They will enter a living history exhibit of an Indian Village, and see a recreation of James Fort, where the colonists first lived. This interactive approach to history, called living history or even active learning by some educators, is a great way to engage students in learning about the colonial era.

The educational student tour of Washington D.C. and Williamsburg/Jamestown is balanced by fun and educational experiences. Students benefit from a guided tour of Washington D.C. and historic Williamsburg and living history educational programs at Jamestown Settlement. With this approach to educational travel, students are given a great learning experience as well as a trip to remember for a lifetime.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/728271

What There Is To Understand About Travel Bus Tours

There are many exceptional travel bus tours that run in the great American cities of Washington D. C., Boston and Chicago. This is a good method for tourist to get to recognize a city. They come with excursion information specialist that is genuinely knowledgeable about the town and will explain all of the exciting facts about a specific region. These tours are generally economical and a wonderful way to travel.

One of the most typical tours is Washington DC, the capital of the United States of America. This is just about the ideal place to visit coming from tourists’ point of view. This interesting district is an illustration of years of historical information. It is a part of American history and is one of the most visited areas in the world. Besides it being the capital of U. S. It is the home of the first President of United states of America, George Washington. Washington DC can be found runs along the Potomac River and it is bordered by Virginia. It is also near Maryland.

The three branches of government operate here. All of this information is included in the bus tours. There is a lot of information that is given on these tours regarding the historical context of the area as well as how the government operations.

Washington D. C. Brings in tourists coming from all over the world. There is a plethora of great locations to visit. The monuments, cultural stores, museums, and cinemas and entertainment centers makes it an excellent place for taking in the sights. There is a lot of American heritage in the region with plenty of museums and historical government structures.

The district is filled with historic landmarks. The bus tour guides take their time to explain their importance. The National Mall is one of the most popular stops. A lot has happened in this location. Tourist get off the bus here and take a lot of pictures as it is a very significant monument in America.

The world popular Smithsonian Museum is situated in Washington D. C., and houses a collection of historical artifacts. People come from all over the world to go to this establishment. It also houses several other famous museums. You can literally spend several days inside exploring the artifacts.

The other museums give attention to a variety of subject matter. Many school trips also trip here on guided tour buses. There is the Natural History museum plus the Science and space museum which is another very popular destination. This specific section has so much to provide. It has a lot of cultural activities along with a lively night life. These bus tours usually go all around the city and tourist get a good idea of what the district has to offer.

Travel bus tours are really packed with a lot of information. The District offers several other attractions, it is a lot to see and do below. The best way to become a spectator of the popular, political, cultural and also diversity of DC is a sightseeing tour, and if the specific sightseeing tour could be in a Double Decker Bus that’s even better. This is a really fun way to explore the district.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5384561

Business and Arts South Africa debuts exciting cultural tourism initiative

The pilot phase of artstourism.guru is a new online platform, which has been designed to integrate heritage and cultural experiences with South Africa’s well-established natural attractions.
Business and Arts South Africa debuts exciting cultural tourism initiative
click to enlarge

“BASA’s mandate is to act as a bridge between the business and arts sectors as a way of helping each one achieve optimal benefits from their partnerships,” comments BASA CEO, Michelle Constant.

“The tourism platform that is being developed for us is premised on the belief that arts and cultural tourism can create greater job opportunities, self-employment and entrepreneurship in both the cultural and tourism sectors. It also provides an excellent opportunity to promote South African culture both locally and internationally.”

The beta phase of artstourism.guru is built around arts festival mapping and links with nearby star-graded accommodation to deliver an immersive experience for culture-hungry travellers.

In time, artstourism.guru will include art galleries, museums, architectural landmarks, theatres and many other arts, heritage and entertainment attractions – creating an integrated tourist ecosystem with greater economic potential and benefits. The aim of the platform is to be a one-stop destination for those wanting to integrate the creative economy of the country into their tourism business or their tourism experience.

“Our presence at Indaba 2016 is intended to introduce the artstourism.guru platform to the tourism market and also to spotlight the importance of arts, heritage and entertainment to the overall experience being offered to tourists,” says Constant.

One of the categories in the 19th Annual BASA Awards partnered by Hollard and Business Day is the Cultural Tourism Award, supported by Nedbank, which recognises business support of public arts and culture projects which contribute towards the growth of communities and jobs, and support the opportunities provided by local tourism.

BASA is also using Indaba 2016 to get feedback on artstourism.guru, and cultural tourism in general, from participants on all sides of the tourism equation as it moves forward into the next phase of the platform’s design.

“We are very keen to explore partnerships and hope that we can support the conversation in geolocation-based regional tourism moving forward,” concludes Constant.

Special Award recipients honoured at 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day

Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo, First National Bank, and the United States Embassy have all been honoured with Special Awards at the 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day.
Special Award recipients honoured at 19th Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard and Business Day

These awards are selected by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Board of Directors and celebrate remarkable contributions by individuals, businesses, and organisations to the sustainability of South Africa’s arts. The awards further the core goals of BASA’s strategy: to act as a change-maker, and to facilitate connectivity and sustainability through robust and ongoing research and diverse public, private and civil society programmes.

Ravi Naidoo was named this year’s Art Champion, while the Chairman’s Premier Award went to First National Bank (FNB) for the FNB Joburg Art Fair. The United States (US) Embassy was honoured with the Diplomacy in the Arts Award for their support of the Market Theatre.

“This year’s Special Awards winners really are powerful endorsements of the ability of individuals, businesses and other organisations to make an impact on South Africa’s arts community, and highlight the extensive work that BASA is doing in creating exciting and innovative partnerships,” said Kwanele Gumbi, Chairman of the BASA Board. “We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations and deep appreciation to all three recipients for their role in arts sustainability across South Africa.”

The Diplomacy in the Arts award is given in recognition of Foreign Missions that contribute to the development and preservation of the arts in South Africa, as well as the continued prioritisation of cultural diplomacy between South Africa and the international community. Through its Cultural Affairs Office in the Public Affairs Section, the US Embassy offers cultural and arts programmes that are designed to enhance mutual understanding between the people of SA and the USA. In particular, the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) supports the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects, and forms of traditional cultural expression in more than 100 developing countries around the world.

The Market Theatre has had a long association with the US Embassy. Over the past few years, under the Ambassadorship of Patrick Gaspard, it has been a generous supporter of the Market Theatre Foundation in particular and the arts in general. Financial grants have enabled the Market Theatre to carry out work at professional, student and community level and encourage the development of new young audiences through its support of the youth. Among recent projects supported by embassy grants were five professional productions (The Brothers Size, The Mountain Top, Ketekang, I Almost Remember and A Raisin in the Sun); a live performance of the multi award winning saxophonist, McCoy Mrubata, on International Jazz Day; first and second-year training of 33 students in the performing arts at the Market Laboratory’s Drama School; and the community theatre-based Zwakala Festival.

Art Champion recipient Ravi Naidoo is the founder of Interactive Africa and Design Indaba. Naidoo created Design Indaba in 1995 as a way to celebrate the creative potential of the new, post-apartheid South Africa and share this with the world. He also sought to educate South Africans by inviting the world’s leading designers in every field to South Africa to engage with design projects. The annual international event has grown to become the world’s leading design conference and has attracted much international attention to outstanding South African talent. Design Indaba has been recognised as having a positive effect on the South African design economy, with initiatives that accelerate and mentor emerging creatives. Naidoo was also the catalyst behind Woolworths and the Western Cape Government of Education creating a design syllabus at school level.

The Chairman’s Premier Award is made at the discretion of the Chairman of BASA and recognises sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa. This year’s recipient is FNB for the FNB Joburg Art Fair, which they created in 2008 in partnership with Artlogic. Now it is Africa’s leading art fair focused on contemporary art from the continent and diaspora, and each year record sales and visitor numbers reinforce the demand for an event where the continent’s artists, curators, collectors and enthusiasts can congregate. Having just wrapped up its ninth iteration, the FNB Joburg Art Fair continues to strengthen this position by presenting the finest contemporary African art alongside memorable exhibitions and groundbreaking initiatives. These include a series of curated special projects, a VIP Programme that has hosted top international curators and directors from institutions like The Tate Modern, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou and CCA Lagos, as well as a Talks Programme that invites art-world figures, philosophers, and critical theorists to deliver key-note lectures and participate in panel discussions. The FNB Joburg Art Fair now also includes a programme of collateral events that take place throughout Johannesburg, with galleries, museums, arts organisations and artists collaborating to create a public focus on the city’s art scene.

The members of the BASA Board are Kwanele Gumbi (Chairman),Herman Bosman, Richard Cock, Michelle Constant, Mandla Langa, Hilton Lawler, Andre Le Roux, Khanyi Mamba, Gianni Mariano, Dorothea Moors, Carel Nolte, Mandie van der Spuy, Matthew van der Want, and Gail Walters.