I had exactly FOUR days this summer during which I did NOT have to report to campus for class. I still had assignments cooking, but I was free from any physical commitment to being present in a room. I spotted this group of days at the beginning of the summer. I immediately dubbed them as VACATION, nonnegotiable. Thus, my trip to Williamsburg, Virginia was born!!!! I hope you enjoy reading about this great trip and checking out the photos!
I have only been to Williamsburg once in my life. I'm pretty sure I was in middle school? I hated it. It was not the place for adolescent Mr. Wil. Granted, Busch Gardens was cool (we included that in this summer's adventure, too), but I could not have cared less about the history of the place.
This summer was different. Oh my gosh. IT WAS SO COOL!! I must have grown up a little. Here is my day-by-day account of what we did!
Tuesday, July 17
My adventure partner Gabby and I departed Knoxville once she got off work around 2:00 AM. We alternated driving straight through the night and arrived to the parking lot of Colonial Williamsburg around 10:30 AM. Perfect timing! Best part of the drive was that we experienced driving straight towards a beautiful hour-long sunrise skyline. We even planned the exact "sunrise time" to correspond with the ending chorus of "You Raise Me Up". I'm pretty sure some water mysteriously dripped from my eyeball at that point.
Anyway, Colonial Williamsburg was an absolute pleasure. We spent all day there and left when we felt that we simply could not carry on, but there were still things we did not see!
The volunteers and staff at Colonial were so knowledgeable. I walked away with so many tidbits about one of our country's first colonial towns. I could not believe how intricate the details within the houses were, particular the Governor's Palace and the Capital Building. We were told that 88 original buildings still remain in Colonial Williamsburg, which means that they were reconstructed only enough to be safe and modern. The other buildings were reconstructed through an extensive process of research, archeology, and probably some expert guesswork mixed in as well.
We were so thrilled in the heat of the day to begin our search for the Ice Cream Shoppe. We were told to look for a giant pig silhouette hanging above a door. Gabby spotted it and we hurried over and tried to open the door...to a private residence! That's right, Gabby's eye led us astray, for we had followed the silhouette of a RHINOCEROS instead of a PIG. We were cracking up! We finally found it though. Only had a soft serve machine, and here I was expecting some hand-crafted, colonial ice cream! It was still a welcome, cooling treat.
After our journey through Colonial Williamsburg came to an end, we took a 5 minute car ride to arrive at our place of stay for the trip, the Rodeway Inn Historic. I was immensely impressed with the value, the service, and the location. 100% recommend this Williamsburg hotel for travelers who require only a simple, motel-hotel type accommodation! Besides, we heard that the famous Williamsburg Inn was haunted - but the ghost tour takes place tomorrow!
Wednesday, July 18
If you like roller coasters, go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
If you like theme parks with sections that are themed like various European Countries, go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
If you like to buy beverages for 40 CENTS, go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
...yeah, that's not a typo error. They had 7 oz. for 40 CENTS. Limit two per customer per day, of course. Still worth it!
I've never had a theme park where there were enough roller coasters to make me feel queasy before the second round through was over. This park did it. There are SO MANY AWESOME coasters here! Seriously, some of the most enjoyable thrilling rides I've been on in quite some time. I'd even dare to say, better than Disney.
The country themed areas were questionable at times; it was more of a representation of each country's stereotype than its actual aesthetic. In Canada, everything was made of wood and had the flag leaf image all over everything. In Ireland, everything was bright colors and covered in plants, including giant trees with faces. In Germany, everything was the wood-trimmed architecture with an underlying tone of "hey, come in here, it's a party!" You get the idea!
Lastly regarding Busch Gardens, I will compliment their theatre entertainments. Really high quality shows! The first we saw was the Celtic Fyre show, which was just what you'd expect from a show in Ireland with that name. Then, we saw the Pet Shenanigans show - I have no words for how cute that was! Finally, we caught the Mix it Up show in Italy. I did not know what that show was like, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was like STOMP meets marching band meets drumline meets all my favorite stereotypical Italian-related (and vaguely Italian related) music. All must-sees!
After our day at Busch Gardens was through, we went to the hotel to rest before it was time for the Extreme Ghost Walking Tour. VERY SPOOKY! Our guide, who guided us with a candle lantern, told us spooky stories as we walked around Colonial Williamsburg all alone at night from 10:00 PM until past midnight. I had never heard an owl like the one I heard outside the prison that night.....
Thursday, July 19
We went back to Busch Gardens for round two! Equally as entertaining, and I can definitely foresee going back to Williamsburg to visit this park again!
I got green kettle corn. That's important for a later part of this story.
Ok, this is the later part. We stopped by McDonald's on the way back to our hotel, and the nice lady in the window, after taking my cash, looked shocked into my car and said...."OH MY GOD, is that popcorn GREEN??" I can't tell you how much we laughed about that. I learned from the conversation, though, that not many locals go to Busch Gardens!
My friend Gabby went out and explored various taverns on Merchants Square (right next to our Inn) that evening while I stayed at home and finished writing a research report for grad school. I had to get it done and there was no other way to do it. I knew going into this vacation that I wasn't completely off the hook from school!
Friday, July 20
On the final day of our vacation, we traveled to Jamestown before heading back to Knoxville.
This facility is so well designed! First, you go through an extensive interactive museum (that I would have loved when I was a child, but we did not go there!). Beginning with a 30-45 minute theatrical introduction to Jamestown's roots, namely the creation of the Virginia Company and the role of the Powhatan tribe and the first imported slaves, this museum experience takes you through the entire story of Jamestown. The number of artifacts and displays in this place, paired with even more information and storytelling, is amazing.
Then, you travel outside and have two places to explore. The first is the fort itself. You go through buildings and chat with volunteers and staff. Similarly to the Colonial Williamsburg experience, you learn so much while immersed in this little town! Then, you leave the fort and go down to the dock, where the foundation has parked three recreated ships. You board the vessels that are identical to the ones on which the Jamestown settlers arrived.
We spent about as long in the gift store on the way out as we did on the boats! I loved this historic facility, as well as Colonial Williamsburg, and I happily brought back a number of educational trinkets that I will undoubtedly use in a classroom some day!
We left Jamestown and drove back to Knoxville. Kind of funny, because on the drive east to Virginia we drove into a beautiful sunrise, and on the drive west to Knoxville we drove into a beautiful sunset, a metaphorical beginning and end to an unforgettable vacation!
Thanks for re-living this journey with me! I hope you enjoyed what I have shared, and I hope you stay tuned for more updates in the future!