Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Your Unofficial Tour Guide

I may not look like a VCU tour guide, but I spent the day so far playing one. A friend had e-mailed me yesterday (subject line: short notice) asking if she could bring her daughter down today for a tour of VCU.

I'm not exactly an expert, not having gone to school or taught at VCU, but between lectures, music, films, plays, demonstrations, interviews, and even just walking, I've spent my fair share of time on campus, so I graciously agreed to do what I could.

I like to think that my spiel had a unique twist to it ("This is Monroe Park, where the annual Halloween parade starts.") and included some pertinent facts not normally shared during the official school tours ("Whether or not you like Ethiopian food, don't miss the dance parties at the Nile."). Hey, I did my best.

To be complete, I did do some actual touring, taking them into the library, the student commons, the dance building, the Singleton Center and the Grace Street Theater and pointing out any number of other big buildings.

Naturally I had to take her into Rumors so she'd know where to shop (she bought a jacket), resulting in owner Marche and I crowing over our recent shared photo taken at Ipanema, another place the potential student needed to know about.

I explained the compass, the Village, Strange Matter and Plaza Art as we headed east for lunch, making a brief stop at Lift. We heard a trumpet player near the theater and a bongo player near the dance building. I've got to tell you, showing her everywhere she might want to hang out or spend money was getting exhausting.

We lunched at Tarrant's for the variety of menu (mother and daughter were in completely different food moods) and with my infrequent daylight presence there, the staff greeted me enthusiastically (Friend: "Do they know you everywhere?"). We took a discreet table on the new side (Owner Ted on our way out, "I saw you hiding over there.").

The student was most impressed by two things on the menu: fresh-squeezed lemonade and meatloaf; apparently these aren't common menu items at home. Welcome to the south, I guess?

I went with the Monte Cristo with the hand-cut chips, which I highly recommended to my friend, who added them to her Cubano sandwich, much to her eating pleasure. The student got a cheeseburger that looked like it weighed more than she did and devoured it. She'll do well as a starving student.

We stopped by Gallery 5 on our way home so they could get the feel of a local gallery space. Leaving, my friend spotted the sign on the door saying, "No alcohol beyond this point."

"But why would there be alcohol in a gallery?" she inquired earnestly. Maybe I hadn't covered everything I needed to cover about Richmond.

"Let me explain a few more things, " I said as we headed down the street...


  1. I'm sending this to everyone I know north of the Mason Dixon line!!
    It's so true.... hahahha "no alcohol beyond this point" hahahahaha

  2. As has been noted before, my aim is true.

  3. You should seriously lead some VCU tours. "RVA 101"

  4. It's true, I could probably give the potential students a fuller impression of the great things about this city!