Norfolk, Virginia

Pagoda Gardens in Norfolk, VA
  Last weekend I had the amazing gift of being able to spend a long weekend in Norfolk, Virginia. A place I had never heard of, never been to (state included), and knew nothing about. I left knowing a decent amount and already half in love with the city for its own love of art. With murals covering the sides of buildings in the Neon District and their enormous art museum- I felt very at home. Especially with the added touch of water being right there in the backyard of my hotel. I could see Navy ships being built across the way and watch other ships go past.



  Though I am certainly not an early morning person, nor a fan of flying, I did make it on to my 6:30am flight. I even boarded the plane just in time to watch the sunrise from the sky which was truly a gorgeous sight. After I landed in Norfolk, Virginia I went right to my hotel to drop off my luggage and find a place to eat. My friend and I ended up finding this little brunch spot that reminded me of a sorta modern speakeasy- lots of wood tones, plants that blocked the windows so you couldn't see in, a nice bar stocked full of all kinds of things. We both decided to try something different than we usually got for breakfasts and went with a Polish breakfast and a Greek breakfast. We made sure to eat mainly local and find places we couldn't get back home. Besides one Johnny Rockets dinner where we both destroyed some burgers and cheesy bacon fries, we succeeded in finding a locally owned business for all of our meals. After our foreign breakfast, we found a little coffee shop which reminded me of Charmed's own interior and filled with pothos plants.



  There was a festival going on the weekend we were there, Harborfest. So many boats, mermaids, and lots of music including a few different pop-up shops too filled with trinkets from local people and also other countries. Inbetween finding new places to eat filled with yummy food and exploring the shops located at the festival, I also searched the city for their artwork. I could see a little peek of one giant mural from my hotel room. This one was my favorite of all that I had found, it was a mural of marine life done by Robert Wyland in 1993. It's called Humpbacks On The Coast of Virginia and it's just one of one-hundred that was done across the world by Wyland. There's actually been one done here in Ohio that I have yet to see but now want to go hunt down to see if it's still there. Inside Norfolk's Neon District you can find a lot of art plastered all over their walls. Many filled with bright colors, powerful messages, and much more. As someone who is obsessed with art, I also found my way to the Chrysler Art Museum also located in the Neon District and got quite literally lost among the wings looking at all the statues and paintings. I found a few of my favorite artists like Georgia O'Keeffe and a lot of Greek statues located in their wings too. They have a large glass exhibit too where you can find all kinds of gorgeous pieces, glass is something I learned to appreciate at my last job as a photographer and if you have any appreciation for it too you'll love their exhibits.



  Besides the art and restaurants, I'd have to say everyone we spoke to in Norfolk was extremely kind and helpful with everything. From the people at the Crepe place and the waiters at Saltine, everyone in Norfolk seem to be just as friendly as in my own hometown. We chatted up so many people, heard so many stories of people's lives and experiences there in Norfolk- I'll speak on a few of them in other posts because some stories truly hit my heart hard. On the second day, we chatted with this stranger at the beach for a few hours, talking about life and what not. Although the sky was overcast and the water was too cold to swim in, I truly enjoyed sitting by the water and watching the waves crash. The ocean is something that makes me feel at home, although there isn't one for many miles here in Cincinnati. The peaceful tranquility always calms me and during this year of stress, I'm glad I was granted this opportunity to see the ocean for at least a few hours. But another place I found to be extremely peaceful was this place called the Pagoda Gardens located also by a small boating dock. It had so many little statues surrounding this one big observation tower that was gifted by the Governor of Taiwan in 1983. It had a few ponds surrounding it too where I can on the edge of the concrete and played with the Koi fish. The whole area was so quiet and peaceful, I didn't want to leave and yet again it reminded me of this little scene from Charmed that I enjoyed so much.



  On my last day in Norfolk, I made sure to eat up all that I could. From literal Salmon dinners, rooftop fireworks, a few glasses of wine, and more. I really had the best time in Norfolk and I couldn't have done so without Allegiant Airlines and the Sheraton hotel- I truthfully had never heard of Norfolk before the trip but am extremely glad I know of the city now. With its history rich streets and art-filled buildings, I can say it's a place I'm happy to have marked on my map of America and all the cities I've been to. I can only imagine where the winds will take me next, but I sure have a soft spot for this city in Virginia and all the wonderful people I met while there.

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