For Labor Day, we decided to go on a little day trip. Somewhere close, somewhere we haven't been + somewhere without an early wake up call.
Let's just say we had high expectations. "Richmond is on the up and up," whatever that means. Good coffee scene. A cool vibe. But it wasn't our favorite + quite possibly our least favorite adventure. But it happens.
My advice in this situation, always ask the locals. The waitresses, the shopkeepers + the baristas (unless they are particularly rude, in which case you take your latte + sit outside).
It was a learning experience for us as travelers + as a couple. Places don't always live up to your expectations but they will always have something to find and to redeem the trip.
Our trips aren't perfect + in the spirit of truthfully documenting here is what our trip to Richmond was really like.
/ Maymont Mansion /
Expectation: This will be a great place to walk + center ourselves for the day ahead. There will be great photo opportunities in nature + ironic shots of me just walking + not knowing you're taking my picture. And they have a Japanese Garden! It'll be just as zen as Portland.
Reality: It is hot + I'm car sick + I'm over it. That fountain + all the others are dirty. That's a really nice herb garden but that woman is ruining my photo opportunity.
Reality: This is how you should take my picture in front of this awesome plant.
Reality: There are water bottles + trash in the bamboo. Nothing a good cropping can't fix.
/ Provisions / The Black Sheep
Expectations: We'll go to this ironic part of town, where only we feel like we know the cool spots to eat. And we'll have root vegetables + something with goat cheese because hipster-life. And then we'll stumble upon this great little shop + meet the owner + become instagram friends.
Reality: Everyone knows that cool spot to eat + you are waiting with said people outside for 45 minutes. Tears are shed + you'll plan on going home without finding any redeeming qualities in Richmond. There are dilapidated houses + sewage smells + flies.
But despite all that, you do have root vegetables + they are ah-mazing. Also cauliflower, green curry + granny smith apples just go. Ironically. I would go back for that lunch.
/ Shopping / Carytown
Expectations: There will be all these cool, local shops + we'll walk down the street + just drop in. Oh, and there will be colorful walls for photo ops.
Reality: There are hoards of people + it's hot + the sewage smell. There are colorful walls + murals but I'm hot + don't want to stop + I look mad in all the photos. Because I am.
/ Refuel + Shopping / Addison Street (aka the redeeming quality)
Expectations: There will be this coffee shop filled with people who are on their laptops + sipping their lattes. And then we'll walk across the street to these Portland-esque vintage shops with cool local makers + want to be best friends with the shop owners. And there will probably be a street market that day.
Reality: Lamplighter is actually everything we thought it would be. We share an iced latte + watch the cutest hipster kids draw chalk art on the sidewalk. Then, we walk over to the three best stores all day (Yesterday's Heroes Vintage, Addison Vintage + Na Nin) and they have local makers, one of which we meet, making candles + pottery.
So we buy a soy candle called Farewell + a made in the USA henley + all the bad realities are pushed out + we focus on the little things. The real ones.
/ Treats / Shyndigz
Expectations: We'll stop by here on our way out to have dessert!
Reality: We walk through the Fan District will all these crazy, beautiful houses + order a slice of peanut butter pie + a slice of key lime pie which will last us two days of lunch + dinner dessert.
Sometimes places aren't what they seem. Sometimes they challenge you. Sometimes you have to remember to exist in the now. Sometimes instagram doesn't show our real life. And sometimes I might just be brave enough to be real + honest + intentional.