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Norwich

A thriving city with a historic center, 100 mi/160 km northeast of London, Norwich, England, is dominated by a cathedral spire built to rival that of Salisbury. Be sure to visit the cathedral (note the comical misericords on the seats) and the castle...

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Norfolk, Virginia is situated at the mouth of the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond rivers near the outlet of Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. With the cities of Hampton, Portsmouth, and Newport News, Norfolk forms the port of Hampton Roads - one of the greatest natural harbours in the world. Norfolk is a major national seaport and an important military centre, having one of the world's largest concentrations of naval installations as well as important US Marine, Coast Guard, and NATO facilities and an Armed Forces Staff College. Norfolk is the site of the Chrysler Museum, the Mariners Museum, an opera company, a symphony orchestra, and the Virginia Stage Company. Nearby you can visit Colonial Williamsburg.
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Norfolk


Norfolk, Virginia, is best known as the home of the world's largest naval-base complex (Naval Station Norfolk), which has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. It was also an important port city in the colonial period: St. Paul's Church, built in 1739, still stands, as does Fort Norfolk, the only remaining fort along the East Coast authorized by George Washington.

Norfolk has experienced a downtown renaissance. Establishments that once bordered on seedy have been transformed into charming restaurants, swank nightclubs and an upscale urban mall. Many of the entertainment venues sit along the waterfront and take advantage of Norfolk's prime location and seafaring heritage.

As with any port town, Norfolk attracts a mixed, eclectic lot—boaters cruising the Chesapeake Bay, officers tending to the East Coast's largest naval fleet, artsy bohemian types sipping chai in the Ghent District and martini drinkers in posh clubs along Granby Street. Any good sea captain witnessing Norfolk's rise to fame has yarns to tell of this storybook port and once-again thriving community.

Must See or Do

Sights—Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval station in the world; the Elizabeth River Paddlewheel Ferry.

Museums—The renowned collection of European and American art, antiquities and glass at the Chrysler Museum of Art; Nauticus, The National Maritime Center.

Memorable Meals—Lobster cappuccino at 456 Fish; margaritas and fajitas at Colley Cantina; fresh seafood with a view of the water at O'Sullivan's Wharf; afternoon tea at The Painted Lady Tea Room.

Late Night—Eclectic martinis at Crackers Little Bar Bistro; dancing on a lit floor at Have a Nice Day Cafe; live music at The NorVa.

Walks—Strolling along cobblestoned streets past Federal-era town houses in the Freemason District; following the Mermaids on Parade Trails; the trails at Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Especially for Kids—Exploring the battleship USS Wisconsin; riding on the Victory Rover past aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers; touching sharks in the petting lagoon at Nauticus, The National Maritime Center.

Geography

Norfolk is one of a handful of cities that rests on the bay area known as Hampton Roads, or the Tidewater, which also encompasses Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Hampton, Williamsburg, Chesapeake and Newport News. Situated on the Elizabeth River close to the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk is a haven for recreational boaters, cruise ships, cargo ships and, of course, the U.S. Navy.

Norfolk's downtown waterfront serves as the hub for all social and cultural activities. Waterside Festival Marketplace and Town Point Park are central points for recreation along the river. Several hotels are situated in this area, making it convenient for visitors to dine, shop, listen to live music or dance the night away without being too far from their accommodations. Ferries to Portsmouth, dinner cruises and scenic boat tours depart from the Waterside Marina next to the marketplace. Just a few blocks north along the river, the battleship USS Wisconsin is berthed next to Nauticus, The National Maritime Center.

Just inland from the waterfront is the Freemason District, with rows of 18th- and 19th-century town houses along cobblestoned streets. North of the Freemason District is Ghent, an eclectic neighborhood that is home to the Harrison Opera House, the Chrysler Museum and the NARO Expanded Cinema. Along Granby Street, 21st Street and Colley Avenue are many good gourmet restaurants and pedestrian-friendly stores—including some of the region's best antiques shops.

On the north side of Norfolk, along the Chesapeake Bay, sits the area's first resort destination—Ocean View. Forgotten for many years and falling into disrepair, the area has been revived, encouraging the development of lavish homes along inland parks and casual restaurants along the bay. The calm waves there are especially suited to families with small children.

Festivals, art shows and beaches are again attracting visitors. Norfolk's location is central to all of the Hampton Roads area. The charming town of Portsmouth is easily reached by ferry or bridge, and Newport News and Hampton are just to the north along the James River and the Chesapeake Bay, respectively. Virginia Beach, a popular resort town on the Atlantic Ocean, is a short drive east.

History

In 1607, the first English colony in the New World was established at Jamestown. In 1622, King James I granted Thomas Willoughby 500 acres/200 hectares, which is now Ocean View. Two years later, William Willoughby received 200 acres/80 hectares of what is now downtown Norfolk. The town soon became a trade center for tobacco and other goods used to trade with the West Indies.

With rising sentiments against the British in the mid-18th century, Norfolk erected a fort in 1763 to protect its strategic location. However, a 1776 attack on the town demolished nearly everything except St. Paul's Church. A British cannonball that hit one of its walls was later dug up and affixed to the wall as a memorial.

Incorporated as a city in 1845, Norfolk saw architectural developments abound: a new city hall, courthouse and expanding residential areas. Despite a devastating yellow fever epidemic in 1855, the city continued to thrive as a busy seaport. When Virginia seceded from the Union at the start of the Civil War, the Norfolk Navy Yard was commissioned to build ships for the Confederacy, including the renowned Merrimack. The famous battle between the Merrimack and the Monitor took place nearby. Norfolk surrendered to Federal troops in 1862, and it remained occupied until the end of the war.

With a prominent harbor location and rich farmlands, Norfolk became a major player in the exporting of cotton and eventually coal. By the early 20th century, the city boasted a major railway line and a new U.S. Navy base, which would grow to become the world's largest, securing Norfolk's significance on the world map.

Today, Norfolk balances historic charm with new restaurants, theaters and shopping centers. With retired battleships resting in the harbor alongside modern amenities and future revitalization sites, Norfolk celebrates its past, present and future.

Potpourri

A collection of mermaids designed by local artists can be seen on the Mermaids on Parade Trails. Each mermaid has her own story.

Dunmore Street is named for the last royal governor—not to honor him, but to mark the last place he set foot in Norfolk. He ordered the town be burned after he departed in 1776 on a British warship.

The headquarters for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is in Norfolk.

Entertainer Wayne Newton and actor Bob Saget are from Norfolk.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur's tomb is in downtown Norfolk directly across the street from a shopping mall that bears his name.

Location

Near the location of the original fort of Norfolk is the entrance to the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center. It accommodates all sizes of cruise ships and is a gateway for cruises to Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada. The center also features meeting rooms and banquet halls for large events. The terminal is next to Nauticus, The National Maritime Center and within walking distance to the many shops and restaurants of historic downtown Norfolk. Parking for the cruise port is at Cedar Grove parking on Monticello Avenue between Princess Anne Road and Virginia Beach Boulevard. http://www.cruisenorfolk.org.



Shore Excursions

Consider signing up for the excursions offered by your ship. They may not be the least expensive way to see Norfolk, but you won't have to waste your limited time making arrangements yourself—and you won't have to worry about missing the ship. Shore excursions—and their prices—vary from cruise line to cruise line. Typical trips may include a tour of historic Norfolk, including nautical sites, the Botanical Gardens and the Chrysler Museum of Art. Longer excursions include visits to Virginia Beach, Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. Shopping in Ghent is a favorite for many passengers. Check with your ship's shore-excursion staff or your travel agent for additional information.




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