On just about any Saturday or Sunday, Old Town Alexandria’s historic, picturesque waterfront fills with not just tourists on vacation visiting the area’s monuments, memorials and museums, but with locals enjoying the many restaurants the area has to offer.
This Sunday the traffic is fierce. It is like rush hour on a Friday afternoon before a 3-day weekend. It takes us longer to get to Old Town than usual. It is Mother’s Day.
My brother-in-law is driving his big-ol’ Suburban. It large and can fit all seven of us without anyone being squished. I think his SUV is the biggest I had the pleasure to ride in. It is going to be pretty crowded in Old Town, I hope we don’t have a problem finding a parking space.
We are taking my mom to The Warehouse Bar & Grill for brunch. The restaurant gets it name because it is housed in an old converted warehouse that was used when the waterfront was bustling with merchants. It is somewhere in between casual and elegant in decor. The walls are filled with caricatures of local famous people. The food is superb.
“Mmmm, I think I am going to have the special. Horseradish Crusted Salmon topped with Lobster on a bed of mashed potatoes and asparagus.
Have you decided on your entree?” I asked my mom.
“The Warehouse All Lump Crabcakes” she answered.
“Ahhhh, excellent choice! I’ve had that before. It is one of their specialities.”
Our food arrives. Each plate looks and smells wonderful. Almost too good to eat, but I will. You can tell it is delicious because even my two normally chatty nephews have quieted down savoring every bite of their meals. I am head-over-heels in love with my salmon and crab. I feel like there is a party going on in my mouth. I eat slowly trying to make it last as long as possible. How could any thing taste this good?
Our bellies are full and content, we walk a short distance to the waterfront. This former colonial seaport, settled by Scottish immigrants, turns back the pages of time. We pass other buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries originally intended as factories and warehouses now continue on in the form of unique shops, pubs, restaurants and galleries, walking on sidewalks made of bricks and cobblestones.
I love being on the water. I have always been fascinated by it. The Alexandria Waterfront, Chart House, the former Torpedo Factory now a regional art center for local artists, and Washington Harbor seem to take on a new life from the water. They become more magical as the sun casts her spell and the waves make their lapping noise.
Today, I will have to settle for looking at her beauty from the dock. We walk the boardwalk towards the park stopping to watch the boats. We tour a replica of a pirate ship. On our way back to the main waterfront area, we have to take a detour around two mallards – a drake and a hen – who have hopped on to the boardwalk.
“Who wants ice cream? My treat!” my sister announces.
As if in unison, we all say “I do.” Didn’t we just finish a huge meal? Aren’t our stomachs still full?
It is a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. Summer is definitely on its way. It will be most welcome, especially after the cold rain we have been experiencing.
Our ice creams in hand, we settle down on the concrete wall of the gazebo. We watch the street performers. A clown delights children as he makes animals, hats and swords out of balloons. A man is playing musical glasses. He has wine glasses filled with different amounts of water. He rubs the rim of various glasses with his finger creating a musical note. Another man has a few tricks up his sleeves as he performs magic tricks for the audience that has assembled in front of him.
As I lick my minty-chocolate chip ice cream, I stare out to the water enjoying its beauty and listening the the waves as they beat against the dock. My mind wanders to the last time we were on the water.