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Where to start? I’ve often heard that Virginia is said to be one of the most beautiful states in the U.S.A., and having been there twice I can see why. It is also said that ‘Virginia is for lovers’, but I disagree – it’s for everyone. The state itself is in the shape of a triangle on the east coast. Its motto is ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ which is seen on the Virginian Flag and means ‘Thus always to tyrants’ I will endeavour through this op to give you a view of Virginia itself, and not a history or geography lesson, and I will try to keep it as short as the description of the state of Virginia will allow. You will have to bear in mind however that I am going to try to amalgamate where possible two holidays, one with friends of similar alcoholic persuasions as us, and one with my parents who were aged 69 and 71. · FREDERICKSBURG After leaving Washington D.C. we travelled to Fredericksburg, (approx 50 miles). We stayed at a hotel called the Colonial Inn, which is located in an historic area near a river called the Rappahannock. Although the name of the hotel suggests an era before the British became colonists of the U.S., it is just like stepping back into the 1860’s. Each room has been furnished with antiques of the Civil War period, but also has all the ‘mod cons’ e.g. fridge, TV. coffee-maker etc. We booked one of their 8 colonial suites, and were lucky enough to have a four-poster bed in ours. Our separate sitting room/parlour (which incidentally did not house the TV) came complete with a rocking chair. Close the door and you are indeed in a different time period. I understand that no two rooms are the same, and it’s the ‘luck of the draw’ as to the furniture in each room. Fredericksburg itself is definitely not lively, but a great place for history buffs, especially Civil War ones. A lot of the shops and houses are historical wi
th quite a few antique shops (although on our 2nd visit some had now been closed) A cruise on the Steamboat on the Rappahannock is a great way to spend 2 hours over lunch, and a lot of information about Fredericksburg, and the Civil War especially, is given. For those who like something lively in the evenings, two nights should be enough, as there’s not much going on in the evenings. Those of you, who like history of any sort, will love it. We briefly drove along the Fredericksburg battlefield (the others in the car weren’t that interested, they kept trying to remind us of World War Two- I bet you can’t guess which of the couples we went with, these particular ones were!) I couldn’t believe the distance that was covered. The trenches are still there, and they carry on for miles. *********************** · WILLIAMSBURG On to Williamsburg, which is again about 50 miles away. This, and the nearby Jamestown and Yorktown were the sites of the first permanent English Settlers, although I think Boston claim differently! I personally have only seen Colonial Williamsburg. The hotel we stayed at was the Sheraton Four Points. It was in extremely easy walking distance from Colonial Williamsburg (even for the ‘oldies’ with ‘bad backs’ and some ‘arthritis’). Within the historic area the only traffic seen are horse & carriages. This again seems like to travelling back in time. We found that you are able to go in & out of any building that was selling something, free of charge. Otherwise to actually see the ‘cobblers’ and re-enacted incidents it would cost around £75 per person. Whilst there, a trip to ‘The Peanut shop of Williamsburg’, is a must. For food and drink we felt, on both visits, that we really didn’t need to leave the hotel for this. We tried both snacks and main meals and were impressed with both. However I understand that there are ma
ny good restaurants and loads of shops in Williamsburg. *********************** · VIRGINIA BEACH (VB) We stayed at a hotel called the ‘Sandcastle’ – I found it on the net! The majority of the rooms I believe, are sea facing. We overlooked the pier. What a view – miles and miles, all around, of lovely white sand and sea. Although, not one for those who are afraid of heights. I’m not too good, but eventually was able to sit on the balcony. At first I had to stick to the back wall or window, and then I became acclimatised. There’s a notice on the door to the balcony stating ‘do not feed the birds’. I can see exactly why this has been put there. At times, I thought I was reliving the Alfred Hitchcock movie ‘The Birds’ as the seagulls swooped almost within inches of you if they thought you had any food. Food and drink (alcoholic or not) were in abundance in the resort, and ranged from very inexpensive to expensive. Some of the restaurants were surrounded by very picturesque sights. A tram travels regularly from one end of Atlantic Avenue to the other, and this is very inexpensive. The seafood was magnificent. All in all if you are going to watch your weight on any part of the holiday I would suggest that it isn’t at Virginia Beach! The resort is very lively, but it is possible to have some decent amount of peace and tranquillity – if only sitting on the pier watching the waves, and fish being caught. If you need a change from the beach the Norfolk Naval Base is very close. We were at Virginia Beach on September 11th, and as you can imagine the whole mood of the holiday changed, however this is an op about Virginia itself, and although the events of September 11th, obviously did have a big impact on the last part of our holiday there, the feelings should be another op and not this one. Therefore I will only mention it where I feel necessary. *********************** · RICHMOND We then travelled to Richmond, along ‘Plantation Road’, we didn’t actually stop at any of the plantations - I have to save something to insist on going back again! I do know that there are four really notable plantations, Berkley, Sherwood Forest, Evelynton and Shirley. I have been to Richmond twice now, and would probably miss it out next time to favour somewhere else. However we had a wonderful lunchtime on the steamboat ‘Annabel Lee’, much better than the Fredericksburg trip. It included lunch and entertainment, and the compulsory narrative of the surroundings and history. The lunch was of the Deep South origin, and was fabulous – can’t remember exactly, but I do remember the mention of ‘Creole’. Richmond itself houses the ‘White House’ of the South, which is next to the Museum of the Confederacy. Another feature of Richmond is Monument Avenue, which has – well do I really have to tell you? – statues in plenty, of famous Americans, from George Washington to Arthur Ashe. There is quite a good shopping area in Shockoe Slip, although it’s more specialist shops than department stores. Our Hotel? This is the main reason why we would consider going back. It was called Linden Row Inn. It is said that Edgar Allen Poe used to play in the garden there. Rocking chairs are situated along verandas. The hotel itself is made up primarily of a row of mews houses. The finest part of this hotel must surely be the service. The staff cannot do enough for you (identical on two visits). There is a courtesy bus that will take you where you want to go (within a given radius), and you then phone them to collect you again when you are ready. Two blocks away from the Linden Row Inn is a hotel called ‘The Jefferson’, where it is rumoured that the staircase in ‘Gone With the Wind’ was bas
ed on the staircase of this hotel. Personally I don’t doubt it for a moment – OK so hubby suggested finding out by kicking me down the stairs to see if the carpet would make me roll the same way as Scarlett O’Hara did!. It is worth a visit for the magnificence and grandeur of the hotel, and although it is a little bit on the expensive side, a snack, lunchtime won’t break the bank. *********************** · SHENANDOAH And so onto the peace and tranquillity of the Skyline Drive, not forgetting that on the way is the Walton Museum, which I believe is in their old schoolhouse. I think a visit is worthwhile, just to have a look around the area. You get the feeling that people still leave home without locking their doors. The museum is an experience in itself - I think it’s still in the era of being a school when Jon-Boy’s grandfather was alive. I thought it was worthwhile especially ‘Ike Godsey’s Store’, where you can buy lots of souvenirs and actually have your postcards stamped and sent as coming from the store. Another attraction along the way is the Natural Arch Bridge, near Lexington. It is amazing, but we spent five hours getting there (that’s another story), and three getting back, and so I don’t think I appreciated it’s exquisiteness. In reflection I can now see why it has been in contention for the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ Our drive to our lodgings on the Skyline Drive, had scenery beyond belief. I think the speed limit along the Skyline Drive is in the region of 25mph. It is easy to see why. There is a lot of wildlife, and certainly loads of bends. We checked in to our lodge, which it is said to be at 3680 feet above sea level. We had to drive from reception to our room, which we did in wonder. On arrival, we saw a row of wooden – well I suppose lodges. Our keys were the partner to a mid terrace lodge. Oh well, hopeful
ly there will be a bed inside! We opened the door, and words failed us all. I will now try to describe what greeted us. Was there a bed in the room? At first glance, I really can’t remember. All that I can recall is the view out of the rear window. We tried to get trough the back door as quickly as possible to see the view without the obstruction of the glass in the window. Breathtaking and astounding are two words that might be used, but the English language really does not accommodate what our eyes witnessed. Miles away in front of us lay the Shenandoah Valley, which looked like tiny, tiny Monopoly sized houses in the distance. Directly below our balcony was a grass verge, which merged into a steep drop through a wooded area below to the sunken Valley in the distance. Our view right to left was surrounded by many different shades of green, and then intermittently, between the greens the sight of burnt orange, browns and vibrant red, as the leaves began their transformation into their winter glory. During our stay we saw up to 10 deer at a time emerge from the Woodland onto the grass verge just beneath us, and also what we think were chipmunks burrowing in and out. The room itself? Well it was more than adequate, which was a wonderful bonus after that view. However, from the rooms we were in there was a very, very steep walk back to reception. Reception, was alongside the tap room (the bar to us in the UK), dining room, souvenir shop and the venue for the nightly entertainment. The tap room served snacks, and the food in the dining room. Food in both, especially the dining room was excellent. However the dining room has to be booked, so it’s wise to turn up early in the evening, make a booking and have a pre dinner drink whilst waiting to be called. The entertainment was normally ‘Country & Western’ style, which whether liked or not suited the surroundings. There are a lot of Caverns ne
arby to see, but after September 11th, we chose not to go anywhere (other than the ‘entertainment area’ for food and of course entertainment!). We enjoyed a whole 5 – 6 hours just sitting, looking and marvelling in the peace that had suddenly overtaken us – with a bottle of wine of course. *********************** · MANASSAS And so onto our last stop, Manassas, where the first battle of the Civil War took place in 1861.This was chosen because of it’s close vicinity to Dulles Airport (Washington), where we would travel back from. We stayed in a Days Inn Motel (which we pre-booked from UK). Next to the Motel was a pub/restaurant, with excellent food. We couldn’t believe our luck. We were only here for a night, so cannot say too much about Manassas, but we did manage to see the area where the 1st Manassas (battle) took place, which again will interest not only ‘Civil War Buffs’. There is a walking tour (guided or alone) around the battlefield itself – it’s about a mile long. It is very worthwhile doing, even if just to take a walk, to get rid of the effect that all that tremendous American food will have done to the body. There is also a driving tour of the 2nd Manassas, which I will do sometime. Here ends the account of my perception of Virginia, as the next stop was Dulles Airport, which is definitely outside Virginia! I would like to add that we haven’t taken any children with us (probably because we haven’t got any), but I understand that there are ‘Theme Parks’, Virginia Beach as you would suppose caters wonderfully for families, and, what a learning experience on the Skyline Drive in the Skyland Lodge for youngsters.
When most people think of Virginia Beach, they think of crowds, the boardwalk, and cramped hotel rooms. A nice alternative is Sandbridge Beach. Where to Rent Sandbridge Realty 581 Sandbridge Road Virginia Beach, VA 23456 Toll Free (800) 933-4800 or Siebert Realty 601 Sandbridge Road Virginia Beach, VA 23456 Toll Free (877) 422-6200 You can request a book of available homes from either Realtor. Each shows a photo of the home, the bedding available, limit of people the home will accommodate, and features included. For the last several years (seven, I believe) my family and I have been making the trip to Sandbridge Beach an annual summer vacation. It has come to be something that everyone looks forward to. If you are into crowds and nightlife, you may prefer booking a hotel right in Virginia Beach, but for families this is an excellent alternative. The beach is not crowded, and there are also houses on the Back Bay if you enjoy fishing. The last few years, the number of family members who wanted to make the trip has increased. So, as a result, we decided that some of us would rent a house that was oceanfront, while the others rented a house on the bay. This way we were able to enjoy the best of both worlds! The ones in the back had only to drive to the other house and enjoy the beach. (This made it easier with a 71-year-old father along!) Things To Do Fishing. You can fish off the bay, or if you prefer ocean fishing, you can cast your line in the surf or off Little Island Park’s fishing pier. Little Island Park is a great family spot. It has a playground for the kids, covered picnic areas, basketball and lighted tennis courts, and bathhouses. You can catch a tram here to tour Back Bay National Wildlife Park. You can rent kayaks or canoes through Ocean Rentals, located near the realty companies. Some of the homes on the bay include the use o
f a canoe. Ocean Rentals also rents bikes, and a whole lot more! If you enjoy a good game of golf, there are three great courses nearby. Hell’s Point, Heron Ridge, and the new championship Tournament Players Club. For a night out, you don’t have to leave Sandbridge. The Baja serves good food and has a DJ several nights a week. Downtown Virginia Beach is also just 20 minutes away, with countless restaurants. (Make sure to look into Captain George’s for the seafood buffet, too!) Other side trips we like to make include the water slides (between Sandbridge and downtown), the marine science museum (always a good way to spend the occasional rainy day, and they have IMAX), and we also like to make a day of going to Busch Gardens, which isn’t really that far away. The cost of the homes varies with the location and rooms. If you are going with extended family, it really works out to split the cost of a larger house. You can call the toll-free numbers above to request a book from each, and make a decision from there! My bottom line? Two thumbs up!
I am a bit of a US history buff, no great expert, you understand, but I have read up on the War of Independance and the Civil War, so some 10 years ago, my wife and I decided to visit Virginia. We had been there briefly during a stay in Washington DC and this had whetted our appetite for more. It's a lovely State. Quite apart from the historical sights (and sites), there is a theme park (Busch Gardens) and many excellent beaches not far away, neither of which we sampled (it being March and very cold, for one thing!). We actually started this trip in New York where we spent a weekend. We then drove down the coast taking in, very briefly, Atlantic City, a bitterly cold and somewhat scaled down version of Las Vegas. We took the Cape May to Lewes ferry across the mouth of Delaware Bay (a trip considerably longer than Dover-Calais) and spent the night in Salisbury in an area which consisted of bits of Virginia, Delaware and Maryland and is known colloquially as "Dalmarva!". From this direction, the main part of Virginia is approached across the mouth of Chesapeake Bay via a causeway and tunnel, quite an experience in itself. We are Comfort Inn fans and had booked ahead from our previous stop thus getting a 10% discount in addition to the 15% we got as over-55's (old age starts early in the US). The one we stayed at here was in a typical US "commercial" approach road to Williamsburg with other hotels and motels around and numerous eating places including all the usual ones - Pizza Hut, KFC, MacDonalds, Burger King - you name it, they got it - whatever your opinion of these establishments, they are a boon and a blessing when touring. The Comfort Inn was a particularly nice one, they vary slightly but always achieve a good standard of accomodation and cleanliness. This part of Virginia is absolutely stuffed with history right from the days of the earliest settlements (Jamestown), via more settled
Colonial times represented here by a sort of living museum called Colonial Williamsburg and a number of old plantations which can be visited, Yorktown where the British surrendered at the end of the War of Independance to a number of sites related to the Civil War. It is now a bustling modern region with a large naval base nearby but made easier for the visitor by a Park Way which runs between Jamestown and Yorktown via Colonial Williamsburg. Having spent too short a time "doing" the area, we pressed on inland calling in on Appomattox Farm House where the Civil War finally ended with the capitulation of the "South" (which may or may not "Rarze Agin!") to our next over-night in the charmingly-named Roanoke. Next day, we took to the hills, we joined the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway just north of the N Carolina State line and drove north through the most stunning scenery imaginable. Not at all the Western style with deserts and mesas, but much gentler wooded mountains. The Park Way was started in the early 30's as part of F D Roosevelt's "New Deal" job-creation schemes and only finished comparatively resently,in the 60's, I think. It is a staggering piece of civil engineering, it carries you right away from everyday civilisation with the utmost ease. As you drive, you cross and recross the Appalachian Mountain Trail for the use of those (such a Bill Bryson) who wish to get away from civilisation but are prepared to make more of an effort! Being a "Park Way", there is no commercial traffic though some of these campers rate as heavy lorries in my book, they are so BIG! Here and there there are stopping places with hotel, restaurant and so on and there are hundreds of places to stop and simply take in the air and the view. There well may be scoffers out there who disapprove of such an easy way to the back-woods, but been there, done that, got the blisters! Now in my dotage,
it's the easy life for me! Next night was spent in Charlottesville where before moving on we visited the utterly charming Montecello, designed and build by the great Thomas Jefferson himself (I wonder what he would think of Clinton and Bush?). The early American love of things Greek have bequeathed many beautiful buildings, The Capitol, The White House and many others (I use the word "Greek" a bit loosely), but Montecello has to be THE gem, absolutely gorgeous! This trip was finished by driving along the Skyline Boulevard overlooking the Shenandoah valley (another lovely name). One day I would love to start at Front Royal at the northern end and drive the full length of the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to the Smokey Mountains. One day . . .
The Commonwealth of Virginia is a state in the Southern United States. Named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was known as the Virgin Queen, this commonwealth was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. Virginia was the first part of the Americas to be continuously inhabited by British colonists from its founding as a European colony up to the American Revolution. It included area explored by the 1584 expedition of Sir Walter Raleigh along the coast of North America, and at one time it also included Bermuda (or Virgineola). The London Virginia Company became incorporated as a joint stock company by a proprietary charter drawn up on April 10, 1606. The charter granted lands stretching from approximately the 34th parallel (North Carolina) north to approximately the 45th parallel (New York) and from the Atlantic Ocean westward (although the Third Charter of 1612 extended its boundaries far enough across the Atlantic to incorporate Bermuda, which the company had been in possession of since 1609). The capital is Richmond and the most populous city is Virginia Beach.