You know that saying, ” If you can’t say something nice. . .”; well, this will be a short post! Virginia Beach was a work trip. We were looking at it as a nice segue from full, flaming sun, southern vacation to the realities of home. This was our first experience of the mid-Atlantic ocean and ocean front. To be brief, we found it was not for us. I have lots of pretty, cherry-picked pictures from the boardwalk, but they are not an accurate representation of the place or the experience. However, let’s focus on the good things: We had a room immediately on the beach (that was a treat), and saw the sunrise colors spread over the ocean each new day. The food offerings, in town, not the hotel (Hampton Inn, you really need to work on your breakfasts!) were quite good.
The first night we took a leap of faith on an Urban Spoon recommendation, wandered into what appeared to be a biker’s dive bar, and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves eating some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had. Hello tuna tacos with mango-passion fruit-chipotle dressing! Everything at the Side Street Cantina was fantastic and really reasonably priced. A few nights later one of Jason’s co-workers introduced a group of us to Mojito Cafe…fantastic! Thank you, Chris!! They are open from 5 til whenever they feel like it; the staff is great and the food is truly outstanding. Jason highly recommends the fried banana cheesecake! Almost forgot, Sunnyside Cafe and Restaurant has gluten-free pancakes and waffles, enormous portions, and roughly five pages of reasonably priced breakfast goodness (bad news- real maple syrup is by request and $2.50 extra).
Other good things, hmmm. . .dolphins. So many dolphins at Virginia Beach; at least three separate pods of around ten dolphins each. They come incredibly close to shore on a somewhat regular schedule. One day while I was watching the water, a wave began to form about 20 feet ahead of me. As it approached and grew, overtaking the couple in my sightline I saw a large grey form riding along inside the translucent amber top of the wave, staying just ahead of the break. After a few heart-stopping moments in which I was the only one aware that this sizable, unknown entity was eight feet from the swimmers ,it became comfortingly clear that it was a dolphin. I’d never seen one so large (about 10 feet) and so close up. That moment had all the elements of my worst nightmares (sharks!) and best dreams (swimming with dolphins) rolled into one!
Finally, the airplanes. We were near the Oceana Navy Base and received CLOSE, LOW fly-overs about ten times every day. Once used to the almost sickeningly loud sounds (and I mean really, so loud as to nearly make one’s stomach hurt), it was amazing to see the various planes in flight. We got to see quite a bit of the Blue Angels, in town for the air show, F22s, helicopters and more.
Those things were really the highlights of our time at Virginia Beach. On our final morning, Virginia Beach bid us farewell with pelting sand like bee stings and a car that had been very carefully broken into and relieved of its hidden GPS. More about that here. So, my final words on Virginia Beach are these: if you find yourself headed down the Virginia coast with time to kill and hankering for a good meal, by all means pull up at one of the fantastic restaurants this city has to offer. Then get back in your car and out of town, preferably before 10 pm :).