After an ungodly early flight (3am wake-up call, anyone?), I arrived in Richmond around noon on Friday, and rode the 1 hour (beautiful) drive back to Charlottesville with Allison. First impression- it's green, and oh-so humid. I thought Texas was bad, but it had nothing on the humidity of Virginia.
We went to her place to set down my stuff, check on her sweet pups (known as Six Cents- one named Penny and one named Nickel), and for me to take a super quick power nap. Then it was time to hit up the University of Virginia grounds (not campus, as I quickly learned) and to see a little bit of Charlottesville. The campus buildings were designed by Thomas Jefferson, and built to resemble more of a village instead of an institution. Most of the buildings were completed in the early 1800s, and the school officially opened in March of 1825. It is a stunning campus, to say the least. I wish I had gotten better pictures, but I was too busy complaining about how much I was sweating, and was too lazy to pull out the phone.
The two pictures on the right are part of the Academical Village that flank the Rotunda (no picture- sorry) that was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The picture on the left shows just some of the pretty landscaping that was seen throughout the grounds. Professors and senior year students live in the Lawn Pavilions and Rooms surrounding the Rotunda, and it is apparently an honor to be chosen to live there (even though the student rooms do not have AC or a bathroom). Many years ago, professors would live in the upstairs section, and teach on the first floor of their apartments. Students reside in the smaller rooms, with just a sink and a working fireplace. Katie Couric and Edgar Allan Poe are two of the famous former residents.
After a visit to the bookstore where I snagged a little UVA gear for Hank, we walked across the street to grab a cold beverage at Michael's Bistro and Tap House. Great selection of beer in an eclectic, cozy upstairs bar. At the suggestion of a Facebook friend we then headed next door to try a "Gus Burger" at White Spot. The Gus Burger (cheese burger with a fried egg on top) was #34 on the "50 Best Late Night College Eats" list. Considering we ate it at around 6:30, after only 2 beers, it still tasted amazing. And I don't even eat a lot of red meat. But sometimes you just can't beat a greasy spoon burger.
We called it an early night, and headed home for some wine and the best Netflix series ever- Orange is the New Black. Allison got me sucked into 12 of the 13 episodes of this series, based on the autobiography of the same name. It streams on Netflix and while graphic at times, is an equally entertaining and disturbing look into the life of female prisoners. It's a must watch.
Saturday brought about a lazy morning, and then a drive to the Nelson County region to check out a few breweries. We stopped for lunch at Devil's Backbone where we had the most amazing pretzel and beer cheese, and then rode out an afternoon storm sipping on beer at Blue Mountain Brewery where they had a fabulous view of the mountains.
We made it back home with just enough time to fix ourselves up for a birthday dinner out with some of Allison's friends. We met the group for dinner at a tapas restaurant called Bang!, and then drinks and dancing at a small club Escafé. Someone had the brilliant idea to order champagne (not me!), and I can never turn down a glass. But unfortunately it always results in a terrific headache the next day. You would think I would learn by now....
Thankfully Sunday was a rainy day, and neither of us had any problem lounging around watching more episodes of Orange is the New Black. We didn't actually get dressed and moving until about 4 in the afternoon when we headed to the historic downtown mall for a late lunch. The mall is a red brick path covered with old trees and lined with historic buildings that house shops and restaurants. There is also an amphitheater at the end of the street. It's beautiful! We ate at Citizen Burger Bar, and then walked the few shops that were still open, including the magnificent Cat House. This store was both hilarious and totally awesome- it had anything a cat lover could want (and so much more!) I bought a little book and a catnip toy for Bailey and Katie. Had to do my part to support a fun local business!
Monday morning rolled around and it was time to head back to Richmond to catch my flight. It was such a fun weekend, and I was so impressed with what a cute town Charlottesville is. Definitely looking forward to visiting again. Thanks for the Virginia hospitality Allison!