Pambling Roads~~Jamestown/Williamsburg, VA
Our visit to Williamsburg/Jamestown, Virginia, has a pretty heavy cloud over the memory. This is the first travel experience where I have a negative review. I wasn't going to publish the negative part of this Pambling Roads article but the distasteful memory lingers and I don't want anyone else to have the same experience.
We met people from: Wisconsin, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina
We were very excited about visiting Jamestown, the ultimate visit, and the need to see where it all began -- the “beginning of history” of the United States. We stayed at the LaQuinta in Williamsburg. It was a unique hotel, pleasant to stay in and a nice indoor pool.
Jamestown: One of the best living museums we have ever come across. Their indoor education museum was absolutely fascinating. It had a great gift shop. There were plenty of employees to assist you and you do not feel as if you are being followed by store clerks like some stores we went into in the Williamsburg area.
The Jamestown camp and the Native American camp had period dressed employees who took the time to explain their area, pleasant instructional conversations and were more than willing to answer any questions we posed.
The ships on display allowed tours where you could see how things were built and how the settlers traveled and sailed across the vast Atlantic Ocean to the New World. It amazed us that so many people were on such small ships. The sailors and mates were entertaining, adding tidbits of fascinating information. They told stories of how they traveled across the ocean, encountered hurricanes, disease, and storms, surviving a long hard journey – holding on to hope to reach a new beginning.
Yorktown Victory Center: A wonderful museum focusing on the American Revolution. There is a Continental Army Encampment along with a homestead that shows how they lived during the late 1700’s. If you are interested in these types of things, stop by the Yorktown Battlefield. Also, the Nelson House on Main St. in the historical district of Yorktown. Thomas Nelson was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Our goal: The Governor’s Palace, the Capitol Building and the Charlton’s Coffeehouse
Downtown Historical Williamsburg is a tourist trap. There is a small area where you can go into shops otherwise, I would not recommend spending your time or money there. Actually, I would recommend that you avoid it at all costs. The people in the shops were cold and unresponsive. I felt as if I was interrupting them in whatever was much more important than me wanting to purchase their merchandise.
We walked around the streets looking for signs trying to find the Governor’s Palace. Now, we understand that it is privately owned, and were not expecting a tour. However, it would have been nice to find it and at least admire the architecture. We could not find it and an uninterested finger pointed in the general direction by an employee of one of the shops did not help.
Next, we tried to find the Capitol Building and the coffee house. By then, it was about 4:00 pm and we decided that if the coffeehouse had food we would most likely eat there as well. As we started walking down the correct street (or what we believed was the correct street) there were signs posted that directed us to purchase tickets. Not understanding what tickets they were referring to, we walked back to a shop that appeared to promote tours. It was indeed the correct ticket office.
My husband inquired about purchasing tickets to see the Capitol Building and the coffee house, if there was an entrance fee. We were told no, they do not sell tickets for the Capitol Building. She handed him a pamphlet that said we could purchase a one-day pass for $40 a person. We explained that we were not interested in a one-day pass and was just interested in the Capitol Building. She pursed her lips and explained with a very tight-lipped attitude that she did not have control of the prices.
Fed up with her attitude toward my husband (who, fyi, is extremely even-tempered) I interrupted, asking if she was really serious about charging $40 a person to see one building and visit a coffee shop. She nodded her head yes, and said that the street we were walking down had private residences. I do not expect people to let tourists in to see their private homes! I walked away.
I told my husband no. I was not spending $80 to walk down a street because there were private homes or to look at a building and drink coffee in a renovated coffee shop. We started walking back to our vehicle, fuming, fuming at the audacity of a town to charge people to walk down a street and the rudeness of the lady at the ticket center. Heading in the direction of William and Mary, we saw a large building where people were walking around the grounds. Curious, we headed toward the entrance. I, trying to shake away the anger, did not want to go in and inquire to see if it was open to the public or if it was part of William and Mary.
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum
The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg has a huge exhibition and absolutely gorgeous. The gentleman at the entrance was a treasure, extremely refreshing after encountering the woman at the ticket center.
The 2 ½ hours we were there just was not enough. We could have made a day of it. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller section was filled with Folk Art. The lower level had a very large collection of money, farthings, and medals from the Colonial Williamsburg collection. There was even an 18th century fire engine! Furniture---fashion---maps---paintings, silver and firearms! We were fascinated.
One of the employees at the museum told us about Bassett Hall, built in the late 1700’s and owned by John D and Abby Rockefeller in the early 20th century. While I was making a purchase at the gift shop, I asked about Bassett Hall. The lady working was considerate and informative.
Bassett Hall: A fascinating history and tour await you at Bassett Hall. It has been beautifully restored. As we toured, I could almost feel exactly how the residents felt living on such a beautiful piece of land. The employees were welcoming, pleasant, happy, and did not rush you through the tour.
Overall, we would not recommend touring Williamsburg, Virginia. Honestly, on this trip traveling through the Eastern United States, I have told more people than I can count to stay away from Williamsburg, to avoid Williamsburg at all costs. The people we encountered in the area had an attitude and were very rude. We felt very unwelcome, as if we were inconveniencing them by being there. We will not go back and we will continue to tell people about our horrid experience.
However, if you are in the area, we highly recommend, Jamestown, Yorktown, the newly found Jamestowne, (which we did not tour but it was highly recommended). It was absolutely wonderful and we make a point to tell people how great it was! If you dare to go near downtown historic Williamsburg, please stop by the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and Bassett Hall, both located on Francis St.
More Pambling Roads:
Read Pam's article Hell's Guest