A travel journal
to Alexandria by Carmen
Quote: While all of Northern Virginia is one big suburb of Washington DC, Old Town is my favorite one to visit. It just has old colonial charm, and it oozes history. Plus, you can look accross the Potomac and get a great view of the Washington Monument and capital city.
1. Old Town Alexandria Ghost Tour -- while a little corney, it's great fun. You learn a lot of history of the city while getting goose bumps on your arms from the scary stories. All of this culminates in a graveyard visit at the end. I do this every year as a Halloween treat.
2. Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream shop -- while you can buy some flavors at the store, they don't taste near as good -- or have as many flavors -- as a B&J shoppe. I love the smell of the sugar cones, and love the free tastes of new flavors. But I always stick with the chocolate chip cookie dough. :)
3. Mount Vernon -- Not a hop, skip and a jump away is Mount Vernon, George Washington's home. The grounds are beautiful. And it's the home of our first president -- what more do you want?
I suggest driving over a few streets from Duke and King Streets (the main roads in and out). I think you'll find that parallel spots are a little easier to come by that way.
When you walk in, you're bombared with cow spots painted on the wall and B&J merchandise to buy. You know from your grocer's freezer that B&J is good ice cream, but it can't compare to the freshly made real stuff. Plus, there are flavors in the shop that you'd never find in a store.
Very seldom to I venture away from my favorite -- chocolate chip cookie dough in a sugar cone. If I were to stray, it would be toward chocolate fudge brownie. I keep meaning to try Chubby Hubby with the chocolate covered pretzels. And some of the names just make you want to try them - Karamel Sutra, Honey I'm Home, One Sweet Whirreled. They'll give you a small spoonful if you ask for a taste. Next time I go in, I want to try the Half Baked, with the cake mix in it. Sounds great.
If you go in April on their birthday (I believe it's the 14th every year), you can get a free one-scoop cone! Oops, maybe I shouldn't have told my little secret, now the lines will be longer. :)
A scoop in a cone will run you about $3, add a scoop and you add about a buck. Specialty cones cost more (chocolate dipped, sprinkled, etc.) If you buy merchandise, you're on your own.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 7, 2000
Ben and Jerry's
103 South Union Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 10, 2000
The Fish Market
105 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Restaurant | "Generous Georges Positive Pizza Place"
The only downside to eating here is the parking. There's a very small lot that can't accommodate the joint's popularity. You have to hunt around for street parking, and avoid tow-away zones. But it's well worth the trouble and even if you do park farther away, the scrumptious smell will lead you to your destination.
Enter into the restaurant and the first thing you'll notice is the decor. Colorful items hang from the ceiling and on the wall, and even a carousel horse beckons you to sit on him. It's a barrage to your senses. The pizzas are huge, and are the best you'll taste outside of New York and Chicago, I'd wager. If you order pasta, beware. It comes in large portions and is seated atop a pizza crust. All the servings at Generous George's are generous - down to the drinks. If you fast before you come and have enough room for an appetizer, might I suggest the spinach artichoke dip with chips. MMMM. I'm getting hungry.
I'm a pretty plain Jane when it comes to pizza, so I usually stick with the regular old pepperoni and cheese, please. However, as plain as that is, they have some more exotic combinations for you. There's the cheeseburger pizza, the hawaiian pizza and the make-your-own - with any combination you want. For drinks, I'd go with the pink lemondade. Their fountain drinks, however, actually taste like fountain drinks. They're a little sweeter than normal. I have had the fettucini on the pizza crust, and the spaghetti on the pizza crust. I don't like that the crust gets soggy near the end, but by then you're too full anyway.
This place attracts families with kids like flies- which in my case is a drawback, as I'd prefer to not have them running everywhere hog wild. But you're in such a great mood and having such great food, you care less and less about the little munckins around you. Their excitement rubs off.
The pizzas here are a bit on the pricier side, but not terribly bad. It'll run you about $13 for a large, each topping will add about a dollar. And half toppings cost the same as a whole topping. Drinks are around $1.25 and appetizers between $2.50 (garlic bread with cheese) to $7 (spinich and artichoke dip). But you get what you pay for.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 27, 2002
Generous George's Positive Pizza and Pasta Place
3006 Duke Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
My dinner companion - who proclaims this her favorite restaurant - ordered meatballs, pork, and shrimp. Each came just large enough to whet your whistle for the next one. Having caught on, I then ordered some fried potatoes, which were delicious. I got to try the meatballs too, which were fabulous. The small portions are divided into categories. Veggies, fish, beef, poultry, cheese, fruits, etc.
The service was wonderful, and the ambiance was very nice. There was a burning fireplace, brick walls with artsy pictures hanging on them, etc.
Being that this is in Old Town, where the rent is sky-high for these restaurants I'm sure, the food is a little pricy. Around $7 for each little plate of food. My steak dinner was an expected $25. Our coffee cups were never empty, and our waiter was always checking on it. So I'd give it (on a scale of 10) an 8 for food, a 9 for service and an 8 for atmosphere.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 25, 2002
710 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Speaking of 17th century garb, the guides are all decked out in period costume. Which makes them a little more believable, and makes them fit into their surroundings -- the brick sidewalks and buildings, etc.
As you're walking the brick sidewalks, you can help but know that you're on the path that our founding fathers walked. The guide lights the way with candlelight, and the gas-lit street lights on the building dance just as they would have 300 years ago (except without the gas.) You really are transported back in time.
There are two routes to choose from, both of which end in a cemetery old enough to house the bones of our great, great, great, great grandfathers. Some tombstones are rubbed free of any names or dates, while others mark the final resting place of key people in the early community.
I've been on both tours, and found them both to be facinating. However, my favorite is the tour that goes the south route. I just think the stories are a little scarier and a little more intriguing. Plus, you end up in the cemetary that houses the tomb of the unknown soldier - not the one you're familiar with in Arlington, but from the Revolutionary War.
I'll share a ghost story with you, but only one. I don't want to ruin your fun:
1. You pass the site of an insane asylum, once upon a time, that was torn down to build a hotel -- using the same bricks. Now why would THAT be scary? The guests mysteriously lost their minds and started jumping out of windows. Seems the bricks carried the tortured souls of those in the insylum.
The ghost tours run throughout the year, but the best time, I think, is on or around Halloween. Everyone gets all dressed in costume, and ghost stories are ALWAYS scarier on October 31. The cost is $7 for adults, and usually run two tours a night, one at 7:30, one at 9 or 9:30. Tip, buy your tickets early, as they sell out around big holidays (Halloween, Christmas) -- then go have a beer or coffee while you wait. Also, They give you a sticker to show you paid. Don't stick it on anything until you start the tour, put it in your pocket, because they don't stick very well.
Old Town Alexandria Visitor's Center - King Street
One of my favorites is the Hats in the Belfry hat shop. I don't know how they stay in business, cuz most people just come in to try on the cooky hats and laugh. But it's a must-see on your walk. Try on the Cat-in-the-Hat hat, or a Viking cap. There's always something new. And, they have your generic hats-you-wear-everyday as well.
While I can't remember the names of all the shops, you can see some of the most unique trinkets, cool gifts, and fun items. Another popular shop is one that sells t-shirts with some very funny sayings -- most having to do with the DC area and politics or whatever is topical in the world.
While you walk away from the waterfront, you'll pass the historic visitor's center and courthouse.
It's pretty easy to get lost in your imagination, thinking you just might see George Washington come around the corner with Martha. (His estate, Mount Vernon, is a few miles down river.)
Cary, North Carolina