WASHINGTON (AFP) - Sightseers in Washington got more than they bargained for Wednesday, bumping into Barack Obama as the world's most powerful man decided to take an impromptu stroll in the US capital city.
In a rare foray outside the armoured-plated security of the presidential motorcade, Obama opted to walk from the White House to the Department of the Interior, a couple of blocks away.
"The bear is loose!" quipped Obama. "It's good to be out."
Obama, flanked by several bodyguards, took time to chat with a group of Israeli and Chinese tourists during his short walk, according to journalists who accompanied him.
After making a short speech at the Department of the Interior, where he announced the federal protection of a region of New Mexico, the president returned to the White House on foot.
He shook hands with several more tourists on his way back, as well as a man running a hot dog stand.
One family with two young children were given boxes of White House M&M candies, while another group of tourists were startled when Obama called out: "How's it going guys?"
"We can shake hands. I won't bite," Obama added, before speaking to a sixth grade school student and inquiring about homework.