Same Place, Different Experience


I have been traveling since I was 3 years old…it is part of who I am. But for several years I traveled with a companion whose lack of interest really diminished the experience.  His method, like many people, was to have a list of things he wanted to do and wanted to see. But never did he bother to understand what it was that he was visiting. He appeared in a location and checked it off. That is not my type of travel, and so I needed to repeat some locations.

When the Jamestown Settlement established its Charter in 1619, it established the House of Burgesses, a legislative body. After several fires, the legislature moved to the larger and new city of Williamsburg on April 21, 1704.

Williamsburg had a huge role in Colonial America and it is worth a visit if you have any interest at all in the history of the United States, especially the time during the colonial era as it evolved into the Revolutionary War.

This was one of Rockefeller’s projects. The area now part of Colonial Williamsburg contains many original structures but some have been moved to that setting and others are reconstructions. The brick house in the photo is actually a residence located across the street from the village setting. You can see how well maintained the structure is and how beautiful the grounds are. This white clapboard cottage had a marvelous herb garden; one plant was hosting a Giant Tiger Swallowtail.

I believe that cottage was the one that I stayed in the first time I visited Williamsburg in 1981. Being able to stay in one of the colonial style homes that are part of the Williamsburg Inn was very special, but my traveling companion had no interest in exploring the Village.

It wasn’t until a return visit three years ago that I actually went into the buildings and heard the stories of life in the 1700s.

The church, called Bruton Parish, was modeled on the original Burton Parish church in England. The basic design of the church is used here in Huntington at St. John’s, the church where Graham is a member and we  sing in the choir, so it was interesting seeing what some at home refer to as “the Mother Church”.  This one had  traditional box pews and a beautiful pipe organ in the front balcony.

The Governors appointed by the King lived in a large residence, which they called the Palace. It was later occupied by the elected Governors before the Colony of Virginia formally became a state and the capital moved to Richmond.

One elected Governor was Thomas Jefferson, well before the Constitutional Convention and certainly many years before his election as President. As a student at William and Mary, Jefferson spent a lot of time in Williamsburg.

The Palace has some interesting decor.  The swords and muskets decorating the entry foyer provided decor as well as weaponry ready at hand.

I was a bit surprised at some of the colors in the Palace. I had seen the Prussian Blue in a pre-Revolutionary War mansion I had worked as a docent when I was a Girl Scout eons ago in New Jersey. I had never seen that bright green before, but the Palace docent assured us that the color was in vogue at that time.

Always interested in cooking techniques, Graham spent quite some time speaking with the Palace chef. He explained that all the food that was prepared for the Palace residents and guests was the best available in the era.  He had prepared the dishes on the table that morning authentically in the colonial era kitchen, cooking over the coals or in the brick oven part of the eight-foot wide hearth.

He also explained the system of employment today in Colonial Williamsburg. He and the other tradespeople we met actually served an apprenticeship of 2-4 years before they could work on their own. They all use the authentic techniques and materials of the time. The chef, the printer, and the blacksmith all explained their jobs speaking as 21st-Century people.

However, the actor who played General Lafayette and one of the women preparing wigs were fully in their character and their responses and chatter were definitely 18th Century.

We had a delightful dinner at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern. The waitress and the musician were fun to chat with and the meal itself was very enjoyable. 

All’s well that ends well. I got to revisit Williamsburg with a companion who had similar interest to explore and understand as I do. Choose your travel partner well!
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7 Responses to Same Place, Different Experience

  1. Gus says:

    … or go on your own? 😉

  2. There are times, like this coming week, when I travel on my own. My husband has a conference in Atlanta and he likes me to be there with him…but the “with” him is funny…he is in meetings all day. And he flies there. So tomorrow I will leave early. Since the weather looks great, I will take the US highway instead of the interstate and I am hoping for some wonderful photo opps through the mountains. I will fill my days while I am there and head out before he is done. So, yes, sort of of on my own. Longer trips like yours will follow in time.

  3. Gus says:

    Beth -my comment was sort of a playful, tongue-in-cheek thing, but you do have a point. I’ve had a couple of pretty sad occasions where I’ve wanted to dump my travel companion somewhere alongside the road. I actually did so on one occasion way back around the mid-70s (it was my boss, of all people!) Having the right travel companion makes a world of difference, but having lost mine, I’m not about to let that interfere with my itch to travel and explore.
    Happy Trails!!!

  4. Lisa says:

    Since traveling away from home for over the past 2 years I have met many, many people traveling on their own of all ages. I am actually very jealous of them sometimes. Because they are on their own – they go by their own schedule doing the things that interest them and do not have to make compromises with a traveling partner. Also, what I consider most important – they put themselves out there. They meet people, they explore, they initiate conversations usually more often than those traveling in couples or groups, because, in order to talk with anyone, they must, inherently put themselves out there. As a result, those traveling solo often have incredible experiences and stories to share.

  5. I suspect your stories will also bring feelings of yearning to most people who hear them but feel they do not have the freedom you have had. I think it may be part of the human condition to want something other than they have. Feel where you are in the moment you are there. The time for solo travel may present iteself to you, but for now, this is a fantastic opportunity. Certainly you have had no grief from your mother than you MUST get home, even tho I know you are deeply missed.

  6. I am really enjoying reading your blog – the tone within the writing 🙂

    Yes, traveling without knowledge or education is like looking at a flat landscape, whereas with knowledge and education, the experience is three dimensional and engaging. That’s my experience.

  7. Thanks David. A local friend made a comment to me how readable my blog is and I responded by saying I write as I speak. But he suggested I write better…more clearly and certainly keep it shorter. LOL

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