There are people in Washington, D.C. who hate tourist season. Tourist season is pretty much year round in the capital city, but it gets really intense starting in April when the cherry blossoms bloom and continues unchecked until late October. Some of the regular folks who find themselves having to compete for a seat on the Metro or wait in line to climb the Washington Monument or visit the Air and Space Museum end up disgruntled about the annual influx of tourists.
If you are a tourist thinking of traveling to Washington, D.C. to see the sights, maybe you should reconsider. Tourists visiting the nation’s capital confront an unappealing collection of unwritten rules that may detract from their vacation enjoyment…
Washington DC Metro
…especially the rules regarding the only form of transportation you, the tourist might survive, which is the Metro. Your life could be endangered if you don’t follow the Metro escalator rules. You might have heard of ‘stand on the right, walk on the left?’ Don’t try it. Any speed less than a full-fledged run will get locals cursing at you and shoving past at breakneck speed. And, unlike you, they’re prepared for the escalators to lurch to a sudden stop or reach up and yank your shoelace.
K Street Not for Tourists
There are only two kinds of people passing through the K Street corridor in Washington, D.C.: people who are wearing gray suits and people who are not. Only one kind is deserving of the slightest morsel of respect. Guess what, you in the shorts and t-shirt? It’s not you. What you deserve, dressed in your tourist get-up, is hostile glares. And maybe a sneer if no one’s looking.
Parking Meter Frenzy
Parking meters in Washington, D.C. have a slew of protectors that are fiercer than any dragon you’ve never met. These public employees protect the sanctity of their meters with a vengeance. They wait with bated breath for the time to tick away and then they pounce. Never mind the absence of signage, or conflicting signage, or the meter cheating you on time; if you have parked at a meter, you are inherently criminal and the meter protectors are going to make sure you pay for your crime.
And so what if you read and paid heed to what I wrote about Metro being your only chance of survival (and a slim chance at that). Do you think that just because you don’t drive you can’t get a parking ticket? HAH! This is the nation’s capital, my friend. Everybody gets parking tickets here. The second you step off the curb to cross the street, you have “parked” in a metered space, according to some arcane D.C. law, and since you didn’t first deposit coins in the meter, you must pay a hefty fine. If you do not deliver it in person to the City Comptroller on the far side of town within the hour, the fine will double. Two hours and it will triple.
Think you can skip town without paying parking tickets because you’re a tourist? You are so naïve. Go ahead back to your hotel for some sweet slumber. The efficient meter protectors can’t boot your car, since you don’t have one, so they’ll do the next best thing: boot your hotel room door, so you can run up hotel bills until you pay your parking fine.
Washington, D.C., as you may know, was built on a swamp. Through some clever government negotiating, the rulers of the swamp retained powers of governance only during tourist season. Those are the mosquitoes I’m talking about, and they are guaranteed one full tourist to chew on per day per mosquito from April to October.
Still thinking about a vacation? Florida is tourist-friendly.