As I said before, I love to “travel” by cruise ship. We just had a great shore excursion in Norfolk, VA. Now, aside from the fact that it is hard to suppress a giggle everytime someone says “Norfolk” - because of the way it is normally pronounced, the fact is that there are truly amazing things to see in this city - means I never knew how cool it is. And isn’t that what makes travel so great in the first place?
Norfolk has the largest Naval Base in the world - so there are aircraft carriers and battleships here. It is also close to nearby Williamsburg, the colonial capital of Virginia up until 1780. Okay, I know some people are yawning, but putting this into perspective - it was the capital of the largest state in the “Union” during the Revolutionary War.
In fact, as the home of Thomas Jefferson and other leaders, it was the city that first proposed splitting with England, and was one of the first to drive the British governor out (within days of the Boston Tea Party). The city of Williamsburg was largely abandoned (but not destroyed) in 1780 when the state capital was moved to Richmond (for better proximity to New York, Philly and the upcoming District of Columbia), and it was an idle small town, with many historic buildings in use as private homes, etc, until 1920 when it was rescued by John D Rockefeller who quietly bought up the entire town and restored it.
The town now works as a “living museum,” with many original buildings and some beautiful perfect restorations; where people in period costume live on site and “act” as if they are in 1776. If you talk to them they will reply to you as if they are in the historic period. It is all very interesting.
In addition, Norfolk is the home of the CIA training facility, the training center for the Navy Seals including team 6 which got Osama Bin Laden, and a beautiful harbor which we are about to sail from - and I intend to watch.
My day in New York City, and this day, has made this cruise very special now. I am seeing things I have never seen before, and that is why I cruise, in all truth. Our next stop, after a day at sea, is Charleston, SC, where I plan to do some research on the big cruise controversy down there. I know one of the merchants on King’s Road, there, the owner of the Audubon Gallery, and we are going to explore why the city is currently adverse to cruise ships.
I have to guve major Kudos to Seabourn here. This shore excursion was not cheap ($189 pp for a day in Williamsburg) but it was an extensive tour with an exceptional guide, one of the best I have ever had. She was knowledgable, did not act bored or talk down to us (as so many foreign guides do to American cruisers, of course she was also American).
After Williamsburg she made sure to use every available minute she had to show us Norfolk, the new downtown, to musuem locations, the waterfront. I rarely actually say this, but this is one place I really do want to come back to someday. In addition to Williamsburg it also is the location of Jamestown, the first settlement in America (remember Pocohantas?). Then there is Yorktown, the battle that ended the Revolutionary war when Lafayette showed up with the French. All in this area.