Tom and I were in Lynchburg, VA this weekend for a dear friend’s wedding. I left the office early on Friday, hoping to dodge the traffic, but of course we were not successful, arriving at our hotel at 8:30 PM. The beautiful fall scenery would have to wait for our trip back on Sunday afternoon.
We stayed at a perfectly lovely boutique hotel, the Craddock Terry, named for the shoe company who used to have their factory in the same space. Our room was gorgeous, and there was an insert in the guest services notebook describing the furniture company who appointed it- a Ghanaian immigrant who had come to the US with $20 in his pocket 15 years ago and who now owned the company that did all the wood furnishings for the hotel. Of course, since I had come down with a bad cold and had a fever and nasty sinus congestion, all I was interested in was the bed, and settled into it right away. Exploring Lynchburg was going to have to wait.
The next morning, after securing some Advil Cold & Sinus (the real stuff, that you have to sign a promise to not make meth out of), we set out in search of breakfast. We settled on the White Hart, a neat little coffee shop/bookstore on Main Street. The space would KILL in Arlington- it’s very cozy, and not once were we threatened with a punch to the genitals. That said, the food and coffee were only so-so, but the ginger root tea helped a lot while I was waiting for the Advil to kick in.
And from there we wandered around Lynchburg a bit. Lynchburg, I concluded, is kind of a weird place. There are pieces of it that are really quite charming and cozy. The problem is that those pieces only last for about a block, and then there are blocks that must at one time have been charming, but now they’re just boarded-up and dilapidated. Like the block that once held the CVS we initially tried to go to- Google Maps said it was there, but when we arrived, construction workers were gutting the space and carrying things out to the dumpster parked on the sidewalk.
And for people like me, who have spent their entire Virginia experience in places like Arlington and Alexandria where you can forget all about the Mason-Dixon line, it’s sort of stark to stroll up to the grandest monument in town, with a bronze sculpture of a soldier on top, and realize that it’s a monument for fallen Confederate soldiers. Lynchburg was a central supply base for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and briefly served as the capital of Virginia when Richmond fell to Union forces a few days before the Confederate States of America fell.
The countryside surrounding Lynchburg is also lovely, and worth a drive to tour. The wedding we attended was in Arrington, VA at the Oak Ridge Estate. The mansion sits in the midst of a nearly 5,000 acre estate that once housed a who’s who of old Dominions’s rich and powerful. Also happening that weekend was the Wine & Garlic Festival, which I can only say how sorry I was to miss.
Before leaving the next morning, we searched for a place to have a leisurely breakfast with some friends we don’t get to see very often. We found the Starlight Cafe, which in contrast to the White Hart, serves breakfast all day long. This is, by the way, one of the surest ways for a restaurant to win my heart: serve me eggs and hashbrowns at any hour of the day. Starlight also serves only organic food, locally sourced, which appealed to our locavore group. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros, which while not exactly a dish for purists (Mozzarella? On Huevos Rancheros?) was a huge plate o’ deliciousness which caused our friend some serious buyers’ remorse over his tasty steak sandwich. I recommend it. You can’t miss the bright blue building, either.
We had a nice time in Lynchburg. I advise you to go if there’s a local festival or something happening. It’s a little short on night life if you aren’t there for a specific event, but a nice little town if you have an agenda already.