|Governers Palace by Air|
From the moment I entered the colonial area in Williamsburg, I noticed the quiet calm that made me feel as though I was caught between moments in time. The smell of boxwoods and the absence of traffic noise enhanced this tranquil moment. Who knew that we would find such serenity so close to the nation’s capital!
I fully expected this timeless quality to disappear once we walked away from our hotel and entered the colonial area, a place that some 4 million or so people visit from around the world. Surely the noise level would increase and transport me back to modern times and the feeling of hustle and bustle would ensue!
Yet as we walked down Duke of Gloucester street we were passed by a horse and carriage that softly clomped by and then a few blocks later by a group of hushed tourists who were following a man in period attire, lantern in hand, as he told the story of the ghosts of Williamsburg.
We walked into the outdoor eating area of Chowning's Tavern, a popular eating establishment in the colonial area, which is surrounded by a charming white picket fence and has both an indoor restaurant as well as an outside seating area with overhead arbors and quaint tables. Still the tranquil, timeless state persisted.
After our meal we were invited to stay and partake of dessert and entertainment inside the Tavern which, after 9:00pm, becomes Gambols, a reproduction of what a rum and ale tavern was like in the 18th century; with hearty food and entertainment, it was reported to be a raucous good time. *Note: even though the entertainment is not risqué, it can get bawdy at times so this is mainly an adult venue…and though they are welcome, the kids seem to clear out before 9pm…
We listened to rousing period songs performed by costumed musicians, such as what can you do with a drunken soldier, and were entertained by conjurers (now where did my watch disappear to?) and costumed staff that roamed from table to table teaching us all games that we were assured Thomas Jefferson himself had played right there and at other colonial taverns. All of the entertainment was happening right beside our table and, with everyone in the room participating in the activities; it was truly a unique experience…
Outside the tranquil sense of calm still remained. As we walked back to the hotel late that night the air was filled with the smell of the trees and flowers and boxwood hedges. It was so quiet that you could hear the tree limbs rub together with the soft breeze gently caressing them…like a song to the night that lulled us into a time that had passed while continuing to endure in the present.
We walked by the old courthouse, where by day the town bustled with activity, and then came upon the "Palace Green," whose expanse of lawn in the moonlight seemed alive with history and the ghosts of the birth of our country. I could even faintly hear the fife and drums in the distance which served to keep me entrenched in this suspended timeframe.
We then came to the Bruton Parish Church. This church, built in 1660, served as a hospital and storehouse during the Battle of Yorktown and as a hospital during the Civil war. I could almost see some of its famous parishioners such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Patrick Henry, strolling past us and walking up the grand stairs and into the elegant brick building which to this day still serves its parishioners.
We lingered here by the brick fenced in courtyard and spoke to one another of the beauty of the structure and the green expanse of trees and lawn and ever present hedges that added to the beauty of this location. All the while the wind blew, the willows swayed and the air seemed filled with the magic of this place!
As we got back to the hotel I could not help but think about the colonial area and the timeless quality that I was experiencing. Colonial Williamsburg is an oasis of tranquility in a stressful world and, with Washington DC less than three hours away and Richmond even closer, and with the Hampton roads area and Virginia beach less than an hour, we could not figure out how this place seemed to resist modern day foibles and stand still in time, as if in a bubble, while the rest of the world races by.
Since that time I have returned for many visits, explored the famed and delicious gourmet restaurant Trellis, had exhilarating times at Busch Gardens and nearby Kings Dominion and even enjoyed a gorgeous evening watching the winning American Idol perform on a stage built on the sand just 45 minutes away in Virginia Beach .
Despite my repeated return visits to Colonial Williamsburg, the peaceful still oasis remains constant, like a faithful friend, and I rejoice and feel rejuvenated mentally and spiritually after each visit! ~dcincioni © 2-08-11
Have fun on an interactive tour of Williamsburg here: http://www.history.org/almanack/tourthetown/flash.cfm