Sunday, February 27, 2011

48 Hours in Richmond: Tourists in Our Own Town!

Mac and I took some time last week to explore Richmond ourselves--as tourists! We had dinner one night at Lemaire, which we confirmed remains one of our Richmond's top restaurants.  We happened to see a well known antique furniture expert from PBS's Antiques Road Show (one of Jeff's favorites!) at the table next to ours, so that was fun!

The next day, we visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and its current blockbuster exhibit, Picasso:  Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris.  It was well worth a second, more leisurely look with the audio guide (which may be downloaded to your i-pod for free from the VMFA's website!) We remain a little dismayed that the only sure way we could purchase tickets for the exhibit was at the VMFA itself.  We were unsuccessful in purchasing tickets either by phone or online.   Hopefully, the VMFA staff is working that out. We had a very enjoyable lunch at the VMFA's Best Cafe after taking in the exhibit, and then ventured across the campus to the Virginia Historical Society.  There, we took in their exhibit, An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia.  It was a fascinating (and free!) exhibit on how the Civil War affected every strata of Virginia society.  We appreciated both the artifacts on display and the multi-media presentations on various aspects of the war.

On Day Two, we visited The American Civil War Center at Tredegar.  What a magnificent location in the old munitions factory right on the river!  There, we again marveled at seeing actual artifacts such as clothing, uniforms, letters, and other memorabilia from the Civil War.  The permanent exhibit was a comprehensive explication of the Civil War from the point of view of the South, the North, and slaves.  We then walked along the Canal Walk to Shockoe Bottom and had lunch at one of our favorite Richmond institutions, Bottoms Up Pizza!  One hearty slice for each of us was good and plenty!  Mine had a white sauce and crabmeat.  Mac created his own with chicken and broccoli.  From Bottom's Up, we walked through Shockoe Slip up to the State Capitol grounds and had a private tour of our Virginia State Capitol--the second oldest state capitol in continuous use in our country.  We had seen the building upon which Jefferson based his design in Nimes, France, a few years ago.  It was fun to see each of our legislative bodies actually in session in such a historic building.  The new Capitol Visitor's Center is extremely well done. You would never know that you are entering the Capitol complex from underground.  We especially enjoyed the statuary of George Washington, busts of each President who was born in Virginia, and a bust of Matthew Fontaine Maury--for whom Maury Place is named.  There is an excellent shop featuring Virginia products and gifts.  We purchased a new Virginia State flag to display at Maury Place.

After some R&R, we had a pre-theatre dinner at one of our in-town favorite restaurants, Avenue 805.  It was a rainy night, so it was nice to have a leisurely meal in such a cozy spot!  Mac had his favorite, "Chicken 805," and I had one of my favorite selections, farfalle pasta with a creamy pesto sauce with grilled chicken.  The staff waited on us efficiently and promptly so we could make it back down Broad Street to see Dog Sees God at the Firehouse Theatre.  This play is one that is being performed as part of Richmond's Acts of Faith Festival. Mac and I are still discussing the implications of the show.  It was entertaining and thought-provoking.  We have enjoyed many other such "edgy" works at the Firehouse before.  We then returned home so proud and pleased that we live in such a great city with so much to offer for historical, cultural, and culinary enRICHment!

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument