Since I am traveling so much, and since this is likely to continue, I have decided to keep a travel log of cool places I find, helpful travel tips etc. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up in some of these places yourselves, and be glad of my (hopefully) useful insights.
So here it is, my first one – Staunton, Virginia.
I came here knowing nothing about the place, other than I needed to find a hotel for the night while performing at Blue Ridge Beltane. Cheap hotel, that was my only criteria. I found one, and the dread set in. Jesusland = the unenlightened, ergo I’ll be surrounded by folks who never question the status quo. Result – I’ll be trapped in this little greasy spoon of a town with nothing but Heart Attack souffle for dinner. (Better make sure I have apples).
Boy I was wrong! (Note to self – it is an option to research the town you’ll be staying in. Just saying.)
First off, let me say that Staunton really appeals to my love of antiquity. It’s got these great old style buildings, much older that what I’m used to seeing in California. Like this:
Downtown is very compact, so a lot of highlights are within walking distance.
A few highlights I thought were great:
The 300-seat Blackfriars Playhouse — the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s original indoor theatre. The product of years of research, this unique, historically accurate performance space provides the perfect backdrop for the ASC’s Elizabethan staging practices.
Beautiful park on top of a hill right in the town. Lakes, swings, a little train (which wasn’t really all that but small children may enjoy it). Geese. Lots of trees. Nice place for a stroll.
Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery
Outstanding and STRONG cappuccino and fresh smoothies and veggie juice. A highlight for me was the Celtic Elixir – Carot juice, celery, and apple with a hint of beet and ginger. Delicous helathy food and old world country store charm the like of which I haven’t seen since Whole Foods took over. Check this out! Can you get dandelion and burdock soda at Whole Foods? I think not.
OMG this dinner! Sauteed prawns with leeks that looked and tasted like they pulled them from the ground right after I ordered. (The leeks, not the prawns. Mmm, ground prawns! NOT!) And twice fried potatoes = crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Excellent Malbec and the most epic chocolate torte with blueberry sauce I have ever had. A little pricey – I had an entree, a side of asparagus, 2 glasses of wine, the torte and a decaf coffee for $80 which included the tip. Actually that’s not bad for how awesome the dinner was.
Hopeless Romantic Bonus: cute waiter was positively oozing Southern charm.
Thing I Absolutely Wish I Did but Didn’t
Visit the Endless Caverns! Apparently about an hour outside Staunton there are miles of these underground caverns. The Endless Caverns are just some of them. There are also Luray Caverns and Shenandoah Caverns. I only had a few days in Virginia so I figured I’d explore the town I was staying in, but I really wish I had made the time to check these out. Few things inspire me as much as grand displays of nature. There is loads of info on the internet about these bad boys so rather than provide links I suggest you just google them and find the links that work best for you.
(Guy in blue coat = should have been me)
Well there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed my very first travel review. I plan to do many more as I gypsy about the world singing songs for folks. (If you’d like me to come and sing songs for you in your town, contact me at sharon (at) sharonknight (dot) net. I’ll even write a song about your local folklore.)
Going to Virginia? Learn more about Staunton VA here