Virginia Beach

Today is a dreary, rainy day here at home and I’ve recently returned from the latest business trip. This time I went to Virginia Beach where it was in the mid-60s, sunny and beautiful when I left it this past Sunday. I had been previously warned about our hotel – The Double Tree. Upon driving up it looked very nice and the lobby was very clean, carpet like new. When the promised “warm cookie upon arrival” was in fact not warm, I knew it did not bode well. In a previous stay at a Double Tree in Ontario, CA, not only the chocolate chips, but the cookie melted in my mouth from the warmth. And although I am very fond of dogs (I have a miniature pinscher), I wasn’t particularly pleased that this was a dog friendly hotel. As I made my way to my room I became aware of a very strong stench in the hallway. It was hard to identify, possibly a mixture of animal odor, tobacco, sweat, air freshener, etc. Thank goodness this did not transfer into my room. Upon entering the room it appeared clean enough as I did a walkthrough of the room I noticed a faint white, milky stain on the chair and made a mental to note to sit only on the bed. Aside from the unpleasantness of this hotel the sights and atmosphere around the hotel was of a small, laid back type of town with not much going on at this time of year and the locals seemed to enjoy having the town to themselves.
We dined in some excellent establishments, among those highly recommended by locals – Tautogs, set up in a quaint little old house a block from the beach. We choose a table on the large enclosed porch as it was a bright sunny day. I lunched on some of the freshest crab cakes I’ve eaten in a long time. Il Guardino [http://www.ilgiardino.com/]. I highly recommend the excellent, yet inexpensive focaccia bread with regular and chili infused olive oils for dipping. Il Guardino has a fabulous piano bar with the absolutely FANTASTIC Billy Batte. You may want to save any meaningful conversation for a later time as the music and singing is very loud. We went on a Saturday night and it was quite full with Prom goers and athletes carbing up for the big Shamrock Marathon the next morning. Rumor has it this was the fave spot for the local mafia and Shania Twain is reported to have eaten here as well. Great entertainment, great food, great fun. Catch 31 [http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/ORFVHHF-Hilton-Virginia-Beach-Oceanfront-Virginia/dining.do] at the local Hilton Hotel was also fabulous (and crowded). It was quite chilly the night we went so unfortunately we could not eat outside at the fire pit tables where the view of the beach is excellent. I highly recommend the Mango BBQ Salmon as the main course with Calamari as the appetizer. Check out the restroom it’s quite interesting (and dark!).
My last day in town I walked from the hotel to the beach (about 4 or 5 blocks) passing streets with names of Monopoly – Pacific Ave., Baltic Ave., etc. I then walked down the boardwalk from 19th to 31st street and back. Plenty of joggers, walkers, skateboarders and the like were about. Bicyclists used a separate lane on one side reserved just for them. From time to time I’d take a short break and watch various activities along the beach. A game of sand volleyball was in the works in one area. Horses had just been brought out in another, ready to be rented and ridden along the ocean’s edge. A group of surfers rode the waves wearing their bodysuits to protect against the frigid temperature of the water. At one point a gentleman took up a spot on a nearby bench to share his music with all by playing his mandolin. The Shamrock Marathon [http://www.shamrockmarathon.com/site3.aspx] was also just finishing up and family and friends were at the finish line encouraging the runners for that last leg of the race.
For now a preview of the sites from some postcards I picked up at a souvenir shop, check back to see more photos soon.

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