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For the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing a lot about Port City Brewing Company. They recently earned the national title of Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. They beat out the other 517 breweries in the small brewery category.
We were welcomed by a friendly, good looking bartender who explained how the flights worked: $12 for six tickets and an extensive taster menu:;
Tidings Ale ended up being my favorite one. It’s a Belgian Strong Blond and has honey, ginger, cardamom and coriander. I mostly tasted the ginger – mild and very refreshing.  
Every Friday night, the Borinquen Lunch Box food truck parks out front from 5:30 to 9 pm. DELICIOUS! I had the arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), tostones (fried plantains) and a vegetarian empanada. John devoured his Cubano sandwich. If you’re looking for some authentic Puerto Rican food, I highly recommend stopping by for a bite (or take away).
This was the first of many visits – I’ll definitely be checking out Trivia Night but will pass on science fiction night. I’ll wait for history trivia. There’s also Beer Yoga and Comedy Night.

Port City Brewing Company is located at 3950 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria. Give it a taste…

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While the construction crew building the Hotel Indigo dug deep, the remains of an 18th century ship’s fifty-foot hull was unearthed at 220 South Union Street in Old Town, Alexandria.

It had been scuttled sometime in the late 1700s when the town used it as part of the landfill for the waterfront which was extended out to a deeper part the Potomac River. The new waterfront allowed Alexandria to become a thriving international port.  In photo: Before the landfill (late 1700s), the waterline went to where the crane is located.

3-D laser scanning, photographs and measurements have been completed and now the ship is being dismantled so it can be moved to a wet environment for further study and hopefully conservation.  For more information about this and other discoveries in Old Town, go to: Alexandria Archaeology Museum which is located in the Torpedo Factory on King Street.

When they announced the area would be open to the public for two hours, I was hoping to get onto the construction site for a closer look but it was not to be.

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Scottish Parade 2014

In 1669, Scottish immigrant John Alexander purchased a tract of land which would become the town of Alexandria in 1749. The men who eventually settled the town were also of Scottish descent and so it is only fitting that Old Town (Alexandria) celebrates its Scottish heritage with a wonderful Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend every first weekend in December.

This year’s celebrations include a parade on Saturday, 5 Dec at 11:00 am. The parade features:

Scottish Parade Santa
Santa on parade

Scottish Walk City of Alexandria drummer

Scottish Walk Shamrock and Thistle

Men in Kilts

Men in Kilts

Men in Kilts with Dogs

Men in Kilts with Dogs

Scottish Parade 4 fluffy dogs

...more dogs

…more dogs

and even more dogs...

and even more dogs…

There’re a lot more going on for the Scottish Walk Weekend than just the parade. Click here for more details. All proceeds from the events go to the Campagna Center’s core programs that help children and families.

If you’re coming to the parade with younger children, I recommend going to the starting point by 10:30 so you can see Santa and all the other participants getting ready for the parade. You might even be able to snag a photo with Santa.

The parade route will be:

Parade Route

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On September 19 and 20, the annual feast for the eyes King Street Art Festival will be set up from Washington Street to the waterfront in Alexandria, VA. I’ve attended the outdoor art gallery four times and have enjoyed it immensely every time. The variety of artwork and the chance to speak to the creative artist makes for a very pleasant way to spend a fall day.

The festival will feature an impressive amount of paintings, large life-size sculptures, jewelry, photographs, ceramics and more. There’s something for everyone, although my taste tends to run a little higher than my bank account can afford. According to the website, this year’s event will have more $15 million in art on display. Even if you don’t purchase a one-of-a-kind art piece, I guarantee you will have fun perusing the booths.

Throughout the weekend, there will be local activities and live-music performances. Last year, I purchased a bowl at the Art League’s popular Ice Cream Bowl Fundraiser. They have about 1,000 hand-made ceramic bowls and local artisanal ice cream for sale which costs about $15 per bowl. My bowl from last year:Ice Cream Fundraiser Bowl

Alexandria’s Mobile Art Lab is celebrating its first birthday by participating at the Art Festival in a couple of ways: a disco dance party at Market Square on 19 September at 7 pm. At 9 pm, it’ll change to a “silent” disco and headphones will be available for your listening and dancing pleasure. The Mobile Art Lab will be on Royal Street near Market Square both days of the festival.

When: Saturday, 19 Sept 10am–7pm & Sunday, 20 Sept from 10am-5pm
Where: Old Town, Alexandria, VA (Start at Washington and King streets)
GPS: 480 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Admission: FREE
Helpful Hints:

  • Park in one of the all-day garages since you’ll probably exceed the two or three-hour street parking limit
  • Plan ahead with lunch reservations ~ it’ll be difficult to get a table between 11am and 2pm
  • If you come across artwork you like, be sure get the artist’s business card. I neglected to do that last year & have been thinking about a photograph I’ve wanted to purchase all year. Hoping the artist returns to this year’s festival.
  • Bring your patience, it’s going to be crowded ~ but worth it.

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Touring the Hermione was so much fun and, lucky me, a friend shared her extra ticket with so I went twice!

The ship is amazing. I’m in awe of the hand craftsmanship and the 18 years it took to build it. While standing on the deck, I imagined what it must have been like being in the middle of the Atlantic ~ how exciting!

Hermione side view
The Historic Hermione and airplane in flight overhead

Hermione French Flag and Continental flag
French Flag and Colonial Flag.

Hermione Rigging and ropes
There are 15 miles of rope and the height of the ship is 56.5 meters (185ft)

Hermione
No idea what this is or why there’s a measurement on it but thought it looked cool

Hermione canon
The original Hermione was a fighting ship and there are 34 canons

Hermione Logan
There was a nice breeze on board

Hermione Leslie and Joe
Lots of happy smiles

My favorite part of the tour was speaking with the volunteers and crew members about their maiden voyage on such a historic ship. Wish I could actually speak French because I’m sure a lot was lost in translation but thankfully the volunteers spoke enough English to tell their stories.

Hermione crew member with man bun
Cute Frenchmen

Hermione Logan VII
Another cute Frenchmen…

Hermone prisoner garb
Pirate looking volunteer

Hermione crew member
Frenchwoman as part of the crew

Other than the volunteers and crew members, local reenactors joined the ship while it was in port:
Hermione Hat
Love the Hermione Hat

Hermione Grumpy the Bear with two ladies
Colonial women greeting the ship

Hermione looking out to the shore
On the Lookout for trouble

Another fun aspect of touring the Hermione is I got a chance to meet a fellow blogger, Robin and his wife. His photos of the Hermione are fabulous ~ check them out at Photographybykent.

The Hermione has been making her way up the Eastern Seaboard and has stopped in Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia and is currently in New York City until July 4, 2015. Click here for a fantastic NY Times article about their arrival in NYC and more historical facts about Lafayette.

Next three stops are: Greenport, NY, Newport, RI and Boston. If you get a chance, I highly recommend touring the ship (or at least seeing it up close). You won’t be disappointed. See full itinerary here.

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It was thrilling to see the French Tall Ship ‘Hermione’ pass through the opened Wilson Bridge at midnight. Adding to the fun were all the people out with us who were equally impressed by, not only the Hermione but the mechanical marvel of the Wilson Bridge. As a side note, living in the Washington DC area makes me empathetic for anyone “stuck” on the bridge. Even at midnight, I could see the line of cars and trucks.

The Hermione Wilson Bridge

Night photography is a challenge for me ~ mostly because I don’t do much of it. My attempt to photograph the Hermione at midnight convinced me to practice, practice, practice. With that in mind, I’ll be up late on Friday when Hermione leaves Old Town en route to Annapolis attempting to get better shots.

Here are my attempts but for some really gorgeous photos from last night, check out Photographybykent:

The Hermione and Capitol II
If you look closely, the US Capitol can be seen on the bottom left

PS Hermione

The Hermione in the Potomac
Earlier in the day, the Hermione was anchored near Mount Vernon Estates where a Lafayette event was happening.

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The Hermione (pronounced ‘err-me-own’) is an exact replica of the 18th century tall ship which carried the Marquis de Lafayette to the USA in 1780 and it’ll be visiting our corner of the world this week.

In March 1780, Lafayette boarded the Hermione in Port des Barques, France and sailed across the Atlantic to Boston. The ship made it’s way down the East Coast. When Lafayette arrived in the United States, he brought news of full French military aid to George Washington which secured victory against the British. Hermione’s voyage culminated with the American-French triumph at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, ending the Revolutionary War.

Building the Hermione took 18 years and it celebrates Lafayette ~ the Hero of Two Worlds. His contribution to the success of the American Revolution is nothing short of amazing. As a wealthy French aristocrat, he easily could have lived the life of leisure but instead he traveled to the colonies and volunteered to fight against the British. He also persuaded several other French officers to join him. He lived a fascinating life and, as an American, I’m thankful he was passionate about the plight of the colonies.

The ship is also a tribute to the craftsmanship of the Poitou-Charentes region in Western France. The ship was re-created by hand using traditional tools and techniques. The 1500 irons, tackles and pins used in the rigging were made using 18th century forging methods. There are some “modern” items on the ship due to safety rules and sanitary requirements.

It was twenty years ago when a small group decided to live by Lafayette’s family motto: Cur Non which means ‘Why Not?‘. The Association Hermione-La Fayette’s mission statement, as shown on their website, is as follows:

  • To evoke the spirit of “why not?” and demonstrate that given determination, anything is achievable.
  • To symbolize and rekindle through the Hermione the intimate ties between France and the United States, and the spirit of liberty that sustains them.
  • To celebrate the value of impeccable craftsmanship, the firm foundation of the authentic reconstruction of the Hermione.
  • Through this, to create a lasting educational legacy which will be accessible to generations of young
    Americans to come.
  • To demonstrate the inestimable value of history, to the present and the future, and to show that it can be a living force in increasing our understanding of the world.
  • To bring to life the memory of Marquis de Lafayette who embodied this spirit.

The first stop for the Hermione in North America is Yorktown, Virginia. Additional ports of call include: Mount Vernon and Alexandria, Virginia;, Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York City and Greenport, New York; Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Castine, Maine and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

The Hermione will be docked at the Alexandria City Harbor, Virginia on June 10,11 and 12. Tickets to tour the Hermione are sold out but a limited number of tickets will be distributed at 8:30 a.m. and 12 noon each day at the dock. I’m thrilled I jumped at the chance to obtain tickets when I first heard about the visit. Hoping photos of the inside of the ship will be permitted. More to come after my visit…

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