A December 2005 trip
to Norfolk by vampirefan
Quote: What may sound like a holiday for a little girl was the perfect break for this big girl.
We took in a performance of the Lion King at the beautiful Chrysler Hall. This performing arts center is centrally located to downtown and offers a number of upcoming shows. The Lion King was once again just as beautiful and brilliant as the first 4 times I saw it.
Take the time to walk along the beautiful Town Point Park. The water views from here are nothing less than spectacular. Here you will find a variety of restaurants and shops at the market place, harbor cruises, ship museums, and Nauticus, the National Maritime Center.
While here look all over town for the friendly mermaids! There are mermaids throughout the town decorated by business, restaurants, and attractions welcoming visitors to this oh so charming Southern port city.
For a unique dining experience, stop in at Freemason Abbey. This beautiful 132-year old renovated church offers both lunch and dinner after your day of exploring Norfolk.
Another great dining stop is Shula’s 347 located in the lobby of the Marriott Waterside. This upscale sports bar owned by legendry Don Shula offers typical sports bar food, only on a grander scale.
Don’t forget the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. This award winning modern marvel bridge runs through the Hampton Roads area and offers lovely water vistas as well as a bridge that goes under the water!
Take the time to visit nearby Virginia Beach. Located less than 15 miles from downtown Norfolk, Virginia Beach offers miles of a beautiful beach as well as many historical places of interest.
You should start by going to www.norfolkcvb.com. The ladies over at the CVB are wonderful and helpful. They will provide you with plenty of information to help make your trip perfect.
If you are planning a large group, then they have a very accommodating group-planning guide. Christine Wilson and Elizabeth Dyer at the CVB were instrumental in helping me with information for a magazine article I am preparing and are glad to help you with your group planning needs.
A number if events are held thought the year including the Azalea festival in April as well the International Tattoo (that is a Scottish festival, not a big celebration of getting ink), Harborfest in June, the SOL Film Festival on October, and a number of holiday events from Thanksgiving until the end of the year.
In 2007 Jamestown will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement. Norfolk and the surrounding areas will be involved in the celebration. For more information please go to www.jamestown2007.org. If you are planning any trips here I would suggest you book well in advanced.
A number of cruises now leave from this port including Holland America and Carnival. For more information please go to www.cruisenorfolk.org.
Norfolk International is about 6 miles from downtown.
Once you’re here, you will find Norfolk to be great place to just walk. You can also get around by ferry, shuttle, or trolley. If you are just staying inside Norfolk I would recommend not getting a car. Taxis are plentiful if you need to get somewhere in a hurry. But parking is a bear. Most major attractions do not have their own parking and you must park in city lots, which means you have to pay.
If you are going to any of the surrounding areas such as Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, or Portsmouth then a car is needed.
If you get lost there are a number of Norfolk Ambassadors adored in white, navy, and jade uniforms throughout the city to get you on the right path. Folks here are pretty friendly and gave us directions several times when lost. Also try the very friendly police officers. One was kind enough to have us follow behind as he drove to our hotel when we first arrived!
Hotel | "Marriott Waterfront"
The Marriott Waterside is a 24-story luxury hotel overlooking the historical waterfront of Norfolk. It is centrally located in downtown Norfolk offering easy access to a number of Norfolk’s most popular destinations.
Our room was pleasant, spacious, and inviting. The colors here are subtle, mixing warm tones and neutrals. Were had a very large king-sized bed full of fluffy pillows, down pillows, a down comforter, and a comfy throw. You can also experience their new bed called “Revive”. It so comfortable. Our room also had a TV armoire, a gorgeous workstation desk, and a lounging chair and ottoman. The views of the waterfront from here will leave you breathless.
The bathroom was a bit on the small side, but nonetheless nice. You have a vanity and sink just outside the bathroom instead of inside. The showerhead is adjustable. Guests are provided with Bath & Body Works aromatherapy line products. They smell heavenly. An iron, ironing board, and hairdryer are provided for your convenience. You also have use of one of their bathrobes. Much like the one in the Metropolitan, I found my $20 robe from Wal-Mart to be more comfortable. You do have data ports if you have your laptop with you. Or for $10 per day you can access the Internet from your room. The also have PPV movies in the room as well as HBO and HBO family included in your TV lineup.
This outstanding hotel combines modern sophistication with old-world charm. The lobby is stylish and attractive, yet remains welcoming. There are art deco inspired chandeliers and lamps throughout the hotel. There are antique-inspired chairs and tables in the lobby perfect for spur-of-the-moment meetings. There is a exquisite staircase with brass railings that lead to the next floor and during the holidays it is wonderfully decorated with poinsettias. When you walk to their elevators there is a vintage inspired Chinese grandfather clock at the doors. When I went to one of the other floors, I saw a beautiful Chinese cabinet. Each floor had a attractive table and mirror for guests.
Like what you have read so far? Good ..keep reading for the rest!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 28, 2005
Marriott Norfolk Waterside
235 E Main Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510
Attraction | "The Lion King at Chrysler Hall"
If you have read my other reviews, you may have noticed I have reviewed this show two other times. So you may be wondering if the Lion King is my favorite Broadway show. Well yes it is! I love this show. And I am such an admirer of the producer Julie Taymor, that I named my newest furry son Taymor!
The first time I saw the show in Charlotte in 2001, I was just so blown away that I had to see it again before it ended it’s 6 week run here. Since that time I went to London with the intent purpose of seeing the show in 2003 and NYC to see it at the mother of all places…Broadway…in 2004. And now Norfolk in 2005. I am I tired of it yet? Heck no! Will I see it again? You bet ya! Now my hubby doesn’t quite get seeing it over and over since it never changes. A true Broadway fan knows that doesn’t matter. After all I have seen CATS 15 times. If it continues to run, it will celebrate its 10th anniversary on November 13, 2007 in NYC. I am planning to be there. So if anyone would like to join me, please let me know. I will start making plans about a year in advanced.
Anyway, on with the show. The Lion King astonished audiences like no other show at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 1997. The following June it walked away with a number of Tony’s including Best New Musical. This was Disney’s second venture into the world of live theater. Beauty and the Beast was the first opening in 1994. It brought the animated hit movie about a young lion club, Simba, to the stage. Julie Taymor directed it, Garth Fagan provided the chorography, and Sir Elton John and his writing partner Tim Rice wrote the score. The collective talents of these individuals alone would dictate this show would be a success.
Unlike its predecessor, Beauty and the Beast, Taymor decided she didn’t want her performers in furry costumes. Instead she designed costumes to show off the performers, not cover them. She used the vivid colors of Africa and combined them with decorative masks. You may have also seen Julie’s work in the Academy Award winning movie Frida in 2002 starring Salma Hayek as painter Frida Kahlo. Garth Fagan combined long-established dance steps and interweaved his work beautifully with traditional African steps. His residence company tours all over the world. I had the honor of seeing his troupe in Charlotte in 2004. Sir Elton John is known the world over for his immeasurable talent and extraordinary voice. He took many of the song from the movie and gave them more of an African beat. The end result is why they walked away very happy on Tony night.
Oh, those pesky 500 words. I am out, so keep reading.
201 Brambleton Avenue
For guests staying on the 22nd floor and above you have access to the concierge room. Inside concierge Kirk Springer and his staff will be glad to assist guests with dinner reservations, directions, and other needs you might have. Drinks and snacks are available throughout the day and breakfast, appetizers, and desserts are served at various times during the day. There is a TV as well as desks and chairs for lounging or for meetings. The views of the harbor are eye-catching here as well. The staff here goes out of their way to make guest feel welcome. In fact Christmas Day I just went in to make sure that someone was there in case we wanted dessert later. About 40 minutes later we received a call from Kirk letting us know the lounge would be closing in case we wanted dessert. Since I didn’t sign in, he went to a lot of trouble just to find out who we were. That kind of service is priceless.
Guests can enjoy an indoor pool as well as indoor whirlpool. If you are looking to hit the links the concierge will be glad to arrange tee times for you at one of the nearby courses. There is an on-site fitness center. There are not any day spas on the premises, but the hotel can arrange a package for you at one of the nearby spas. Parking is $19 per day or $24 for valet, both are in and out as much as you like. There is also a municipal parking garage only a few feet away for $14, again come and go as much as you like. You are only 8 miles from the airport.
There are three restaurants on the premises. The Dining Room is open for lunch. The Piano Lounge is open for dinner. Shula’s 347 is open for lunch and dinner. This discriminating restaurant is part of a chain owned by legendry NFL coach Don Shula. I have a separate entry on my next journal on this restaurant. There is also a place to pick up a cup of Joe or a pastry in the morning in the lobby.
If you are holding a meeting, convention, reunion, wedding, or any other special occasion, then the Marriott is the ideal place for your needs. With over 60,000 square feet of meeting space there is something for every occasion. No matter if you are holding a small reunion for 30 or a convention for 3000, the sales staff here will be glad to help you out. They offer meeting rooms, class space, banquet halls, and are adjacent to the Norfolk Convention Center. They are currently undergoing renovations for their meeting space. Sales Director Cathy Grief took me on a tour, and from what I saw the rooms were just beautiful. I can only imagine what it will look like after renovations are over with. The meeting space is held on the 4th level. There are a number of open spaces perfect for lounging or for registrations. You can contact Cathy and she will be glad to explain their packages to you.
My only compliant is a small one and involves housekeeping. If you read my Anaheim journal then you know I am not exactly an early riser. I am more incline to keep vampire hours. John and I hung our little privacy sign on the door and planned on snoozing in late. Christmas morning we were woken by housekeeping to inquire if we would need service that day, after explaining she saw the sign. Calling me is disturbing me. Then Christmas night while John was shaving, he ended up getting shaving cream in his eye! Ouch. He was in pain and had a hard time sleeping. I had a meeting with the sales manager the next morning and then we planned on checking out. My meeting was at 10, so I didn’t plan on getting up until 9:30. At 7:30, I was awakened by the sounds of faint tapping on the door. Too exhausted to care, I stayed in bed and tried to go back to sleep. At 8:30, we were once again awakened by housekeeping.
I would recommend the Marriott to anyone. It is a wonderful hotel. The staff is great. If you need directions, the front desk even has them typed out for you so all you have to do is just follow the directions. Great idea! For reservations, simply go to www.marriott.com.
The Lion King is the tale of a young cub named Simba and his journey though life. Disobeying his father and going to a forbidden section of the land, his father searching for young Simba is crushed by a heard of moving wildebeests. Simba thinks he caused his fathers death and in shame, leaves his family and journeys into the forest. He has help along the way from his friends Timon and Pumbaa. He finds out that it was actually his evil uncle, Scar, who really killed his father. Eventually he returns home to his mother and friend Nala. He takes his fathers place as the Lion King and continues the circle of life as those who came before him.
The show is absolutely wonderful for the whole family. This cast was simply amazing and brilliant. The music from the show is one of my favorite albums. I listen to Circle of Life and They Live In You all the time. I just don’t have enough lexis to tell you how astonishing this show is. If you ever get a chance to see it, make sure you do. Nothing you will ever see again can compare to the splendor of this show.
Even though the cast as a whole was phenomenal, there were a few exceptional performers. Phindile Mkhize, who is from South Africa, was mind-boggling as Rafiki. Dan Donahue as Scar and Thomas Corey Robinson as Simba’s dad, Mufasa were brilliant. As a side note and Broadway trivia…Heather Headley played the adult Nala in the original Broadway cast of the Lion King. In 2000 she once again wowed audiences as Aida in Disney’s Aida at the Palace Theater in NYC along side Adam Pascal as Radames, who was the original Roger Davies in the 1996 initial cast of RENT. Adam can currently be seen reprising his role in the movie version of RENT in movie theaters.
I do have a few complaints about the show. My first is in regards to the dress of people at the show. Here in Charlotte people still dress for a night of Broadway. Men are characteristically in suits while ladies don evening gowns. I always look forward to dressing up for my evening out. This is not the movie and it is my pet peeve for anyone to show up in blue jeans. If you can afford $70 for a ticket you can afford to wear a nice dress or pants. Also Chrysler Hall seemed too undersized for the show. The show starts off with the cast coming from the back of the house. Here, only about half of the cast went down the isle. From where I was sitting I could see one of the elephants trying like crazy to get through the door. During the first number, Circle of Life , the stage just seemed too crowded.
For parking try the parking deck at Macarthur Center. It is only a few minutes walk to the center and parking is only $!!
Chrysler Hall is a 2500 seat performing arts center, which is home to the Virginia Symphony. Upcoming shows for 2006 include RENT in February, Chicago in April, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in May. All wonderful shows. So if you live in Norfolk go and buy a ticket. You want regret it. For more information or to order tickets go to www.sevenvenues.com. Or for more information on Disney’s shows or to order tickets, like I did, go to www.disneyonbroadway.com.
I had been, for some time now, wanting to do like many others and get away for Christmas. Like many others, I started to dread Christmas and all the merriment that went along with it. I knew that I shouldn’t think, “Oh, no, it was just Christmas” on the day we celebrate the Lord’s birth.
I had once been this highly organized person who had cookies ready to go, Christmas cards out by November 15, the house decorated by November 1st, and presents done and wrapped in plenty of time for Christmas. Instead I haven’t decorated for Christmas in 3 years, I am lucky if I have cards out December 1st, and I am pillaging and plundering like the Vikings on the Capitol One commercial for last minute gifts. My cooking is also been limited to Pillsbury slice and baking cookies. Thank goodness for them.
As I became older, I started thinking Christmas was back around before I even had time to put away my Christmas cards from the previous year. I used to think it was due to my becoming less and less organized. Then I realized that it was due to the fact that by mid summer, stores already had Christmas ornaments sandwiched in between beach towels and suntan lotion. The taunts of “only 150 shopping days left before Christmas” were maddening. So it was the retailers who forced me into this “oh my gosh it is summer and I am not nowhere even ready for Christmas” syndrome. Right now I am sure some doctor is working on the symptoms and the pill companies are coming up with a pill to cure you. This in turn has left me disorganized and stressed out.
This year I decided no more. No longer would I be weeping in October at the thought of not being ready for Christmas and no more wondering how I could get Scotty to beam me up and all the places I needed to be Christmas. One day I decided to look around and see where the Lion King would be playing. I was ecstatic when I saw it would be in Norfolk at Christmas. I quickly purchased my ticket and reserved my room at the Marriott. I knew this Christmas would be different. Only problem is now I have used up my quota of John seeing the Lion King and I plan on being in NYC November 2007 for the 10th anniversary. Seriously if any igougo pals would love to meet up in NYC to see the Lion King, let me know.
So back to my original train of though. How did this Christmas with just me and my hubby work out? Despite the few snafoos…very well thank you. Granted we did have bad food, closed botanical gardens, rain, and John got shaving cream in his eye. But over all it went very well, I wasn’t stressed, and I am ready to face the New Year much more organized and ready to have a great Christmas next year. Only next year I hope to spend it at historical Williamsburg. It is rumored to be quite spectacular at Christmas.
I found Norfolk to be quite a charming city. I am very proud to be a G.R.I.T. (girl raised in the south) so I enjoy sharing the beauty of my home state of NC and the beautiful states that surround me. So I am very glad to share Norfolk with you.
There is so much to see and do in this wonderful city. There is a rich military history here, and it would be a perfect place for military reunion planners. There is Nauticus, the National Maritime Center. Here you will find a science center, interactive theaters, traveling exhibits, and next-door climb aboard the Battleship Wisconsin. There are Civil War Trails, the Armed Forces Memorial, the MacArthur Memorial, Hampton Roads Navel Museum, and Fort Norfolk to name a few.
Down on the waterside you will find restaurants, shopping, boats tours, and museums. Throughout the city you will find art museums, beautiful churches, historical buildings, and botanical gardens. For family fun make sure to check out the Virginia Zoo. For the shop-a-holic you will find a variety of stores from antiques, one of a kind boutiques, or stop in at the MacArthur Center. Here you will find more than 60 stores including Nordstom, Dillards, Pottery Barn, and Forever 21. And in November and December take a whirl around their outdoor ice skating rink. Foodies will find everything from ethnic selections, Nuevo cuisine, new twists on old favorite, real down south cooking, and the always-welcome comfort food.
Take a break and enjoy the surrounding cities that make up the area known as the Hampton Roads area. Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Newport News are all within close range. Go out abit further and discover historical Williamsburg.
Norfolk is an up and comer to the cruising scene. Several cruise lines are bringing their ships into this port city including Holland America, Carnival, and Radisson. For more information on that go to www.cruisenorfolk.com. If you’re cruising from here, then this is the perfect place for a pre or post stay.
In 2007, there were will be a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown. Celebrations are scheduled throughout the year in the surrounding areas. For information on that please go to www.jamestown07.org.
If you are looking for a cruise package, short weekend jaunt, or any other vacation then make sure to visit Norfolk. This city is such a gem and I am sure you will agree with me once you visit her. For more information go to www.norfolkcvb.com. You can thank me later!
Charlotte, North Carolina