Every once in awhile, travelers find themselves in a the midst of a great historical moment. They might have planned it that way, or they might have walked in to something nobody could have seen coming. The right place at the right time, so to speak. Of course, not every major event a traveler finds him or herself caught up in is desirable. There were certainly tourists in New York when terror struck as well as in Thailand when a tsunami arrived. But sometimes visitors are lucky enough to witness history being made in a positive way. Think Berlin when the wall came down, Washington, DC when Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, or any of the Olympic Games. When I found myself in London at the time of George Harrison's death the news was not good, but the chance to see Abbey Road filled with Beatle fans leaving flowers and messages was something I will never forget. This year, I find myself in another moment that will be remembered for a long time to come: Inauguration Day.
I didn't even realize I would be in DC for President-Elect Obama's inauguration until a few days after I arrived. I was reading an article in the Washington Post about how nearly all of the city's hotels were already booked and residents were renting out their homes on Craigslist when it hit me. Hey! I'll be here for that! And I didn't even plan it that way. I would have been in DC regardless of who won the election or even if there wasn't an election this year at all. Instead, I've hit the 2009-event jackpot. The mayor of DC is already predicting a record turnout for January 20, and some people are wondering where this relatively small town is going to put them all. DC is certainly used to welcoming large crowds (July 4th is insane here), but the prospect of 3 million people or more sounds a bit daunting. Nevertheless, I think it will be worth venturing out into the sea of humanity for a chance to participate in the inauguration. After all, presidential swearing-ins only come around every four years; a truly momentous one such as this is once in a generation.
The real question, however, is this: to rent or not to rent? With a similar apartment in my area going for $4,000 for the week, it might be something to look into. I have a cozy one-bedroom with an eat-in kitchen and cable and Internet connection that is metro accessible. Anyone?