Whenever I have the opportunity to visit a new city, I try to immerse myself in the local culture as much as I can. One way that I like to do is this is to travel by train. I find that when you aren't driving a car, and you have to walk the sidewalks and navigate the streets like a local, you enjoy a more genuine tourist experience.
Another perk to taking the train, especially when visiting older cities, is that often times the train station itself is a historical landmark. When my Amtrak train arrived in Richmond, V.A., we stepped off the train to see a massive restoration project being completed at the Main Street Station. I learned that only recently (in 2003) had the Main Street Station been reopened, and they were in the process of bringing the interior plaza back to it's glory days. I thought that the sheer size of the project was very impressive and I was truly amazed by the design!
While I'm not exactly a history buff, I love visiting historical places. When it works out that I can stay at a historic hotel, I always jump at the chance. There's something about stepping into an old building that gives me a strange sense of joy. I can almost feel the history and the stories of the people who had once been in that same place, only decades or centuries before me.
Naturally, I decided to select a historical hotel for my Richmond visit. I discovered the Linden Row Inn and thought it was the ideal choice. The history behind the hotel was that Edgar Allen Poe used to play there when he was a child, in the courtyards. It just so happened that the room I booked was located right in the middle of those courtyards! But before I could get there, I had to find my way in. The black fencing around the hotel was a bit un-welcoming, until I found the actual entrance located around the corner.
Once I was given my room key, I was so excited to step foot onto the historic courtyard of the Linden Row Inn. My room was located in what I believe was the Stagecoach Driver's quarters, since it was in a smaller separate building from the rest of the hotel's main building. I was happy about this, because the larger building was updated and barely contained any of the historic charm that I was searching for, so I headed straight for my room!
The courtyard of the Linden Row Inn was paved completely in red brick, which was in the same colonial style as all of the buildings. This may seem a little drab by today's standards, but it does allow you to really "travel through time" and imagine what life was like in the 19th century. I dreamed about what games the children played together in the courtyard, and what might have been growing in the flowerbeds.
However, I should note that since my room was located right in the middle of the public courtyard open to all hotel guests, I could hear the people sitting at the tables and chairs as they were dining al fresco, which was slightly distracting. I could definitely see that being an issue for someone who might be trying to sleep in, only to be disturbed by early risers eager to get started on their breakfasts. Personally, I didn't mind, but I can certainly understand other guests taking issue with that factor.
Inside, I really liked the decor of the room that I had booked. It had a vintage feel, without looking overly antiquated. There was a memory foam bed, a cute little armchair, a large screen TV hidden in an antique wardrobe, and a desk filled with tourism guides and local restaurant menus for take out.
The room included a small Edgar Allen Poe tote bag with his face printed on the front, which was I thought was a cute little surprise. Overall I enjoyed my stay at the Linden Row Inn, and I often found myself thinking about where the Stagecoach Driver might have liked to sit when he was enjoying some free time in this building.
Richmond was a delightful city that was very clean, and I was pleased to see that there was a lot of street art painted on the sides of buildings. I visited the Governor's Mansion, walked through the streets of the city, and of course I made my way to the Edgar Allen Poe house, where the famous poet had once lived. There was a courtyard at Poe's house too, and I liked the Poe courtyard a little bit more because there were several resident black cats who freely roamed the grounds.
I would recommend a visit to Richmond, V.A. to anyone who enjoys museums and getting a taste of America's colonial history. Have you been to Richmond, and have a recommendation to share? Please let me know!