Monday, 23 January 2012

Charlottesville, Virginia

This post is quite retrospective (October, actually).  One of the highlights of the Fall was spending an afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Most of our time in Charlottesville was spent at Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the estate of Thomas Jefferson.

The thing I learned about Thomas Jefferson during my visit was that he was an all-around bad-ass.  Of course we know that he was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, America's third president (he also served as Secretary of State and Vice President at various times), and the founder of the University of Virginia.  But that's just the tip of the iceberg...

Jefferson spoke five languages, rode horses, played the violin, graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, passed the Virginia bar exam in 1767, and was an opponent of slavery (though he owned slaves at Monticello and has been widely criticized by scholars for this and other hypocrisies).

It was under Jefferson that the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, a purchase that doubled the size of America.  Jefferson also organized the Lewis and Clark expedition and convinced Congress to fund and build the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

I could go on and on about Jefferson, but suffice to say he was a pretty accomplished fellow.

I would recommend visiting Charlottesville in the Fall, though I imagine it's beautiful all year long.  I'm just biased toward the Fall and feel as though Virginia has one of the best out there.

In addition to Monticello, the Downtown Mall of Charlottesville is a wonderful place to visit.  One of the nation's largest pedestrian malls, it's eight traffic-free blocks worth of stores and restaurants.

We hit up an Indian place for dinner.  There was also a Middle Eastern, Thai, Himalayan Fusion, Japanese, and other ethnic restaurants (plus many of your All-American type grills).  And for after dinner a cupcake shop, a frozen yogurt bar, and a movie theatre...

Monticello coupled with the Downtown Mall equals a great way to sample the best of Charlottesville.  And the city is only 115 miles from Washington D.C.

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