First port-of-call–Norfolk, Virginia City of Mermaids


I awoke this morning after a wonderful night’s sleep to a beautiful view.  I threw open the drapes and saw a golden orb rising high into the sky above calm seas.  It is going to be a wonderful day, I thought.


(From left) Pat, Bob, Maryann, Tom, Randy, Mary, Sal, Anna and Tori

During dinner last night Anna invited us to come to breakfast with she and Sal in the dining room.  Randy and I thought that would be a nice change and said, “We’ll be there”.

Unless you specifically request a small table guests were seated at larger tables to fill them up.  We were seated with a very nice couple and their granddaughter.  A few minutes after we sat down, Tom and Maryann came along and sat at our table.

Bob and Pat’s granddaughter, Tori was a very sweet girl who had just graduated from high school and kept us entertained with her upcoming backpacking trip around Europe.  I was amazed at how poised and confident she was with such an adventure ahead of her.  I thought she was just an amazing young lady.


Randy and I lived in Northern Virginia for almost 40 years traveling through Norfolk periodically on our way to Virginia Beach.  We decided that we would just get off the ship and walk around the town and see what we could see rather than go on a tour.

collage 2

The first thing I noticed was all the mermaid sculptures there were near the port and in town.  They were all individual, made of different materials and, all lovely.


IMG_0397We made our way past the Battleship Wisconsin reading all the historical data that was posted.  We then made our way up Waterside Drive past City Hall.  We continued our walk to the MacArthur Center.  Randy wanted to make our way back to Granby Street so we cut through the mall and exited back onto Granby Street.

Notice--there is a Mermaid on top of the marquee!

Notice–there is a Mermaid on top of the marquee!

When we came out the door, Randy was excited because he saw a building that brought back nice childhood memories from when he lived in Norfolk with his parents as a teenager.  The building was the NorVa Theater..

As we walked to the theater Randy told me, “The NorVa was a theater my friends and I used to go to on Saturday’s to see the latest movies.  He said, “In those days it was important to go to a theater with air conditioning”.

“This theater is in the downtown area of Norfolk and, back then, it was surrounded by bars and tailor shops.  There were always plenty of sailors down in this area, so it was somewhat safe as any Navy town would be”.

Randy went on to tell me that he and his friends would take a bus or hitchhike down Virginia Beach Blvd to downtown Norfolk.

“This theater was our favorite (several theaters and burlesque places) since it had on the front and side a sign that read “Ice Cold inside”, which really attracted us in the summer as anyone who has been to Norfolk in the summer” Randy said.

“I remember those times with fond memories as me and several of my friends would go there and enjoy the movies.  Other times we would go to the base theater and see movies.

“How does it make you feel to see this old theater again,” I asked.

“It was very surprising to see the theater still there and in operation after all these years.  I came to this theater in 1959-60,” he replied.

We continued our walk on Granby Street taking a few moments to just sit and enjoy a small but beautiful park, with yes, another Mermaid.  By now though we were getting a little hungry so we set off to find a side-walk café.


Only a few blocks down we came to a restaurant called the Granby Bistro and Deli.  There were only a few tables on the sidewalk.  I went in to see if we could be served and the waitress said she would be out in a moment.  Inside the restaurant was packed.  This was definitely a good sign.


DSC08318I ordered the turkey sandwich on rye with potato salad and Randy ordered a Pastrami sandwich on wheat with chips.  While we waited for our lunch we enjoyed just chatting and watching people, some in a hurry some not, walking and driving by.  Eventually, Sal and Anna passed by.  We invited them to have a seat.  Sal did but Anna had to run back to a store and return something she had purchased.

The lunch was wonderfully delicious.  The sandwiches were thick with thinly sliced meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise.  My sandwich was great but I really loved the potato salad.  As I enjoyed bite after bite I finally realized why I loved it so much.  It tasted just like mine!  Wonderful!


IMG_0420We then made our way back to the terminal down to the Town Point Park.  We walked along Waterside Drive.  We passed many historical locations and sites but, frankly, we were just enjoying being on land after a few days at sea and the day was beautiful.  The skies were blue; it was warm; just perfect for a long, leisurely walk around town.

Great view of the ship at the west end of the waterfront.

Great view of the ship at the west end of the waterfront.

We learned as we walked around the waterfront that this area had undergone a major revitalization in the 70’s beginning with the public esplanade and hotel in 1974.  According to a plaque along our path, “The first Harborfest celebration was celebrated in 1977 demonstrating to the city government that public attractions could help revitalize the downtown area”.  After that, Town Point Park and the Waterside Festival Marketplace opened in 1983.  Then Nauticus, the National Maritime Center, opened on the west end of the waterfront in 1994.

We had been walking for hours and decided to make our way back to the ship.  We sat on the back deck and just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.  Before we knew it, it was time

cocktails, dinner and finally off to the cabin for an evening of relaxation.

Beautiful sunset this evening!

Sun setting as we leave the harbor. Beautiful!!

Tomorrow we are back at sea.



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3 Responses to First port-of-call–Norfolk, Virginia City of Mermaids

  1. Randy says:

    Ah, the fond memories of downtown Norfolk, Va. I didn’t recognize it except for the old NORVA theater. Nice day and a nice walk.

  2. Barbara Spivey says:

    Tom and I met on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Mostly we lived in Cape Charles. It’s across the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel. That bridge tunnel is 27 and a half miles long. We hung out in Norfolk a lot. Great area.
    Barbara Spivey

  3. helffrich says:

    I had forgotten about all the mermaids. Sounds like a perfect day.

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