On the eve of the Memorial Day weekend, I think it is apt to talk about a city that is the hub of several divisions of the armed forces and primarily the Naval units - Norfolk, VA. I visited the place, last week, with a curiosity to find out what else the city had to offer other than officers' balls and military sexiness. This is my experience of the place.
Lets start with the logistics.
is rather straightforward, a short hour flight away from New York City into a charmingly tiny airport. By that I do mean, there is little else to do in the airport other than pick up your bag and venture out ASAP. Which is good thing, because things get a lot better once outside.
For one, the weather is gorgeous, especially this time of year. Which, in retrospect, was the best time to visit. Not just to admire all the officers strutting in full regalia or their gorgeous wives in long gowns, but, that is always a plus. If you are single and looking to 'connect', perhaps not the greatest variety there to be honest. I only saw officers in tow. Ok, let's not be distracted and get down to business.
The weather - For May, when NYC was throwing silly tantrums and being narcissistic, Norfolk was gorgeous, sunny and just pleasant. Despite being that close to sea, there was none of that humidity characteristic of NYC in warmer weather. So, pretty hair all round. They also have monsoons. No, not those tropical showers we see up North or scattered thunder storms; just simply a massive opening of clouds of Biblical proportions, some flooding and some insta-pools. But very brief ones. As quickly as it came, the black clouds roll away making space for gorgeous clear skies and crisp sun. I saw both sides. It was lovely. And, nostalgic - reminded me of the monsoons in India.
Ok, now what do we have to do here. There are several attractions from the Maritime museum to the harbor cruise to the art festivals. Much like any other city that is building itself out to be more than a one-ship pony (haha pun intended), Norfolk has capitalized on the nature and culture of its denizens, namely retired army personnel who are more than normally well travelled and well heeled. Yet, it is also somewhat diverse in its ethnicity and demographics, again, in part due the melting pot nature of the armed forces. So, there is a bit of something for everyone.
But, I am going to tell you my absolutely favorite place in the city. One that surprised me and stays with me even now. The Chrysler Museum of Art. Before, you let a huge sigh about yet another museum, hear me on why. First, it is free admission. Yes, really! Perhaps the only institution other than the Smithsonian that allow equal entrance to all, rich and poor. In a much smaller town where you would imagine, admission revenues are nothing to be sneezed about. And, that is saying something to the Mets and MOMAs.
The Chrysler museum, carries one of the largest collections of glass works in the country, most of it donated by Mr. Chrysler (who was married to a lady from Norfolk and hence was feeling particularly generous to them, and housed in a lovely building that has been recently renovated to show case the pieces better. Although glass is the pride and joy of the museum, for me personally, it was the eclectic nature and hidden gems housed within as you time travel through art. My favorite piece is Idelle Weber's Muchkins I, II, and III. I had never heard of her before and now I am head over heels in awe of the woman! For sticking to her work when recognition in her time was strongly in favor of the male artists. If anyone knows how to contact her, I beg you, share!!!!
So, yes, that is my piece de resistance of the place! Also, at the moment, they have on display the worldly and globe trotting
. Although, I never grew up with rubber duckies in my tub, for lack of having a tub, I can somewhat grasp, the relatability of the rubber duck in most people (who grew up with tubs) minds. So, if you want to play peekaboo with a larger than life size water toy, it's definitely your thing.
Ok, lets talk food. Obviously, you all know the place is all about seafood. Chesapeake Bay is a stone's throw away. I hear, crabs there are particularly delicious. During my stay I tasted some shellfish, which, are now in season, and it was indeed tasty, although it did not blow my mind away. Two high points of my eating time here were the fresh local tomato and She crab soup at
and the delectable Bolivian influenced cuisine of
. Also, another place to stop by because you are there is
, reputed to have invented the waffle cone at a Coney Island expo eons ago! And, if you go in Flounder season, then you must have the dish of the locals - Flounder stuffed with Blue Crab.
That's it folks! Have a great Memorial Weekend and I leave you with a few links if you are still grasping for inspiration!
, I want to kick of the festivities and
later in the night when I am no longer worried about how much sugar I have consumed.
If you are looking for a gluten free vegan option, try
is always a crowd pleaser, I guarantee! At BBqs, picnics or dinner parties.
You really must make
I will be reading
book this weekend.