Portsmouth Sigh at the beginning of the Causeway, with Tidewater Yacht Marina in the background
We love travel, history, culture, food and people, and we’ll share all of that in our blog. So, before we get into our travels so far, we will turn the clock back a bit to share more about our time in Portsmouth and Norfolk, VA. We loved the area and the people we met. There is so much to do here. It’s truly worth the trip!
After a leisurely trip down the Chesapeake, due largely to bad weather in Cape May and Annapolis (not bad places to be stuck!), we arrived at Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth, VA. on November 1, 2017. The goal was to be further south, but not too far, as we knew that we’d be moving north in early May. While unusual for the area, this winter was brutal! Not nearly as bad as our friends and family up north in NJ, PA and VT experienced, but it was certainly interesting experiencing it on a boat! It was a huge learning experience. Most importantly, we decided that we will winter in southern Florida next winter!
Visions of our experience on the boat during and after the “bomb cyclone”:
The good news? We love the Portsmouth/Norfolk area. There’s much to see and do, a lot of art and culture, wonderful restaurants, and it’s close to the beaches, Williamsburg, Richmond, Washington, DC and more. Tidewater Yacht Marina is nestled in Old Towne Portsmouth, directly across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. Brick and cobbled streets, beautiful old homes, parks, tons of history, remarkable boat traffic on the Elizabeth River, and much to do. More to come in future posts, but for now, a brief tour around Olde Towne, and a few views from the marina:
Beautiful Portsmouth, VA.
The wonderful Commodore Theatre
The Commodore Theatre is not to be missed! A beautifully restored 1945 Art Deco theatre, the movie seats have been replaced with tables and chairs. You can order a meal from the phone on your table to eat while you watch the movie. Just be sure to arrive before show time, as once the lights go out, they stop taking orders. The popcorn is real, as is the butter on it. Simple menu but the food is pretty good. Try the chicken salad.
There are a lot of incredible restauraunts in both Portsmouth and Norfolk, and we made it a point to exploire them! Our favorites in Portsmouth included: Fish n’ Slips (smack in the middle of the marina no less!) for anything, portions to feed an army, amazing tacos, meatloaf and corn/crab chowder and more, including take out, Still (for lunch or dinner), Green Been Cafe for lunch, Gosport Tavern (great wings), Cafe Europa (don’t skip dessert!), and Guads (yummy Mexican food).
Norfolk is just across the river from Portsmouth, and easily accessible by a ferry that crossed from town to Waterside in Norfolk. It’s a small downtown, and is very walkable. Right downtown is the MacArthur Center Mall, with good shopping and a movie theatre, Granby Street for great restaurants, the MacArthur Memorial, the Slover Library, and the not to be missed Naval Base Tour.
We loved having Norfolk across the river, and took full advantage of it! We especially loved our time spent wandering, discovering the art filled streets and the MERMAIDS! Norfolk has some beautiful and funky neighborhoods (Check out the Ghent area if you can, you would need a car) with fun shops, restaurants, opera, concerts, theatre and the lovely Chrysler Museum. We also took glass blowing classes at the Chrysler.
In March, we were proud to march for support of gun control with our friend Ted Haler/Dream On in downtown Norfolk. It was a great day!
In 1999, Norfolk was undergoing a revitalization, and it was suggested to the city council that Norfolk institute a program similar to Chicago’s “Cows on Parade”. When The Norfolk Mermaid swam onto the scene, her job was to brighten and polish the perception of the newly revitalized city with a downtown for residents and tourists. Local bronze sculptor Kevin Gallup mass-produced 130 mermaid castings for artists to decorate. Business and community leaders from Norfolk and beyond adopted mermaids at $2,000 a piece, and they were auctioned off at a Mermaids on Parade event. Since then, additional mermaids have popped up all over the city! Today, mermaids are everywhere in Norfolk. They’re throughout downtown, in front of businesses, building lobby’s, schoolyards, hospitals and some in homeowners’ yards. Every mermaid is different, frequently depicting messaging relevant to their location. The mermaid on the Naval base is ina full dress uniform! I’ve (Nancy) been hunting them since our arrival in November, during my city explorations. There’s even a mermaid spotting map online!
While wandering the city, be sure to look all around, as murals, sculptures and tile work abound in downtown!
Norfolk street art
When you’re walking around downtown, it’s worthwhile to step into The Slover Library. It’s in the same neighborhood as The MacArthur Memorial, the mall, Waterside and the Hilton. It’s an actual functioning library, just in a really beautiful old building that has been transformed inside to a very cool and modern space.
The Wisconsin is a navy battleship commissioned in 1944. She served in both WWII and the Korean War, and was used extensively as a training vessel. The Wisconsin was placed put of commission in 1958, but was upgraded and recommissioned by President Reagan in 1988. The Wisconsin went on to serve in Operation Desert Storm from January 15 – February 27 1991, marking the last time that a U.S. Battleship ever actively participated in a foreign war. She was again decommissioned in September 1991, and moved to Norfolk in 1996, and restored to the Naval Register in 1998. Wisconsin earned five battle stars for her service in WWII, and one for the Korean War.
In regards to restaurants in Norfolk, we frequented Grilled Cheese Bistro (split a sandwich and fries, and you’ll still be stuffed!) and Greenhouse Cafe (largest salads we’ve ever seen!) on restaurant filled Granby Street. They are sister restaurants, side by side, and both are amazing.
Before we left Portsmouth, we visited both the Norfolk Botanic Garden and The Mariner’s Museum in Hampton Roads. Both are worth the visit!
We left Portsmouth, VA. on Wednesday, May 9th. After 6 months, we bid adieu to Tidewater Yacht Marina, with docktails, dinner at Fish n’ Slips, and a sunset on the roof of Ted’s Dream On. Thanks to Kathy and Breandon for getting up early and documenting our departure! We’re really excited to start our travels, but will miss all our our great friends at Tidewater.
The large red brick building in the background in our departure picture is the Naval Medical Center, located on 20 acres on Hospital Point in Portsmouth. It’s the oldest continuously running hospital in the Navy medical system. Living near it guarantees lots of sirens and helicopters, but the best part? Tidewater Yacht Marina is on the same power grid as the hospital, so power failures are unheard of! Good to know our friends there are well protected!
For now, so long, Portsmouth! We loved every minute…except for the snow storm! ❤️