On Sunday, the Teen and Hubby and I went back to Alexandria, Virginia to while away a sultry late afternoon and snap some pictures of the historic Old Town neighborhood. The Teen and I took the Metro Blue Line to the King Street stop at the top of King near Diagonal Street. Hubby chose to ride to Alexandria on his bike going south on the Mount Vernon Trail.
The top of King St. is more “modern highrise” than “quaint Colonial,” but both the Teen and myself were drawn to this pretty pergola at the intersection. A few tables and chairs had been placed beneath the shade, and the Teen commented, “You only see nice things like this in a city.”
I replied, “It’s pretty, isn’t it.” Outside, I was nonchalant. Inside, I was secretly doing a happy-dance because my off-spring was finally letting go of her resentment and instead showing some interest in the scene around us. Not only noticing, but comparing and analyzing similarities and differences between the places she knows and the places she is discovering.
I wanted to pop into the Book Bank bookstore, but we were supposed to be meeting Hubby half-way down King Street. A couple of twenty-somethings exited the store as we strolled past. The Teen said, “Get a whiff of that book-smell!” Then she went back to practicing texting on her cell phone and walking at the same time.
The buildings here are a mixture of retail, office space, and housing–one of the major signs of a vital, thriving, workable community neighborhood.
The Teen was full of playful quips this afternoon. She saw this horse statue in the back of a vintage truck in front of the Hard Times Cafe and said, “You don’t see that every day.” Indeed, you do not.
Painted in vibrant or subdued paint, the various storefronts and shop doors lend color and interest to the street scene. I was struck, once again, how much more you can see on foot than on wheels. There is no better way to get to know a place than by walking it.
The Old Town theater was built in 1914 and used to have a vaudeville stage on the first floor and a dance hall on the second. Now it shows movies on two screens and fits right in with the restaurants and shops on this end of the street.
The closer we get to the Potomac, the quainter and more colonial the street becomes. The shops and restaurants seem a little more narrow, the sidewalks a little more crowded with cafe tables. We stopped at Market Square to take pictures in front of the fountain and listen to a street performer thumping away on his drums.
There is a farmer’s market here on Saturdays, so I will have to come back again to pick up some weekend goodies and to browse that book store, too. I also want to find a locally-owned coffee shop. I’m becoming too dependent on Starbucks grande iced mocha coffees.
Here’s the Visitor’s Center where you can sign up for guided tours or pick up materials for self-guided walking tours of the notable historic buildings in the Old Town neighborhood. You often see guides dressed in colonial clothes standing with a group of tourists here. A bunch were about to go on a “graveyard” tour when we snapped this picture.
We strolled down the lower end of King Street toward the waterfront.
Down on the plaza overlooking the Potomac, people sat on benches or fed the ducks or listened to the street performers or watched a couple artists sketching portraits. Standing at the railing, we caught glimpses of huge catfish opening their wide mouths around pieces of bread thrown into the water. The sight of the boats bobbing at the moorings made me homesick for Maine.
As the sun was about to set, we knew it was time to walk back to the Metro station.
Hubby picked up his bike and sped off down the path toward home. The Teen and I took a last look at the water, and I put away my camera for the day. Instead of viewing King Street through a lens on the walk back, I decided to simply absorb the vitality and hominess and beauty of this wonderful section of the city.