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The Obamas have certainly been having fun this week. Not only did the U.S. President enjoy being officially sworn in for his second term in office on Sunday, he and wife, Michelle, were in such high spirits that they decided to pull a practical joke on unsuspecting members of the public on Monday. The pair surprised a group of tourists during a routine public tour of the White House. Visitors on the tour usually get to see the inside of this political landmark up close but the guests certainly didn't expect to meet the President, his wife and their pet Bo.

Prior to the surprise, Mrs Obama shared her passion for pranks via her Twitter feed. The public group had just arrived at the Blue Room during their tour where they would usually find enjoy the decadent French Empire style décor and antiquities. Much to their surprise, the Obamas were already there to greet them. One woman claimed that she almost fainted. This wasn't the first time the family had enjoyed surprising visitors on White House tours, Mrs Obama apparently often enjoys introducing the family's pet to visitors.

White House tours are offered free to members of the public. Overseas visitors wanting to take a tour must apply via their embassy in Washington.

The famous governmental hub isn't the only one to offer access to the public. Travellers with a passion for politics will be pleased to know that the U.S. is not alone in its open door policy. Plenty of the world's other governmental buildings offer visitor access to those who are keen to do more than take photos from the outside.

In the UK, parliament is open to visitors. Overseas tourists can take tours of the parliament buildings on Saturdays and during the summer as well as attend Question Time and debates. UK citizens can access tours at other times but these must be applied for in advance through their MP. Places are limited so booking well in advance is advised by Westminster.

Across the channel, the French National Assembly offers the public the opportunity to attend public debates. Application is usually via an invitation from French residents' MP but the first ten visitors to queue prior a debate are guaranteed entry. Historically the European Parliament in Brussels has also offered public access but this opportunity has currently been withdrawn due to 'technical reasons'.

Further afield there are some even more impressive buildings offering access. Sections of the imposing Kremlin are open to the public through advance ticket purchase. The New Zealand State Parliament in Wellington provides free daily tours giving an insight to the parliamentary process as does the Australian State Parliament in Canberra which also offers access to Question Time.

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