This is the third of a 3-part series
Two years ago, with three girlfriends in tow my spirits were in high form. Our first priority, after arrival, was (what else) to eat. After our usual “what do you feel like eating?” and “Oh, I don’t care. Whatever you guys decide” routine, we finally settled on Violino Restaurante Italiano, tucked alongside the pedestrian zone in historic Winchester. Stepping into the restaurant from cold Virginia, we found ourselves in warm Tuscany. A young woman plucked heart and violin strings to complete the illusion. Shared appetizers, entrees and toasts to friendship sped the time.
Hand in glove are good meals and comfortable places to rest. Fortunately Winchester offers both.
After dinner Val led the charge home. We rushed in quick-step haste, driven by foul March winds on our necks.
Home was the Old Waterstreet Inn which sits like a grand dame, elegant and impressive on a not too busy road. Owners Jeannie and Erik, with ancestry reaching back to Scandinavia, have managed to make a welcoming home that hides behind a staid façade, one that combines old and new with a colorful style. We call it cozy; a better word might be hyggelig.
The interior is an eclectic mix. Antiques and art invite you to look, pause and breathe. A near ceiling to floor window lets in plenty of natural light to add focus to the oak staircase: well-polished, soft and warm, it provides a gracious touch leading to the upper rooms. The banister is hard to resist. I was tempted to hoist my leg over and slide to the bottom. More mature visitors can envision themselves Cinderella-like, dressed for a ball, sweeping down to an imaginary court.
An immense gilded mirror in the entry hall adds to the enchantment and charm of the house. Stand in front of it. Imagine stepping through it to the fairy-tale beyond. If you dare not, the mirror allows for interesting photography.
After our quick jaunt in the cold night air the crones, aka, girls, gathered in the upstairs sun-room to share wisdom, concern and advice to ease the overflowing “toil and trouble” that’s part of life. Wine warmed our insides and as the evening slid towards, then past, the witching hour, the stories became more ribald and the laughter turned to howls with “I nearly peed my pants” and, “…do you know what he did?” stories.
So let’s return to my first evening. After dinner I went to the downstairs parlor. I viewed magazines and books and listened to soft music (Diana Krall really knows how to croon a love song). The hosts had retreated for the night. When the streets quieted and the light from the streetlamp shone gold into the front window I retired, carrying my “surprise” meant for two to the suite beneath the eaves. There the three of us (me, myself and I) sipped chilled Zinfandel and sampled ambrosia (grapes, crackers and cheese) from a silver platter. As the evening waned I reflected and realized that, Winchester is good for both the sole and collective soul.
One morning during my solo visit, sitting at peace in the sunlit dining room with its tall windows and warm polished oak floors, savoring Jeanne’s golden waffles and local sausages, I wished that the setting was somehow enhanced.
A year later an early spring Girlfriend getaway turned the wish to reality. And since I’ve yet to make it to Patsy Cline’s house, a third visit is not beyond my imagination. I’ll certainly “do my best to make the rest of this lovely dream come true.”
All photos courtesy of Valerie Carter