Colonial historic plantations in Virginia

After the place where the first colonial settlers made landfall in the USA and the visits to the first colonial capitals in Virginia, we drove off along the scenic State Route 5 between Williamsburg and Richmond along the James River.   This road is exactly what I love about cruising on roadtrips: just 2 lanes, green environment and not much traffic at all.   Quite a difference to all the multi-lane highways we'd been on before.

This is also the road/ direction that settlers moved further inland in Virginia and established big plantations.  Several of these historic plantations still function but can be visited. All of them seem to have links to some of the first presidents of the USA or generals that took an important role in the civil war. 

We first stopped at Berkeley Plantation , the home of 2 former US presidents, for a short stop. 

Berkeley Plantation

At Shirley Plantation, the oldest still active plantation in the USA, we took a tour of the residential home of the 11th generation of this family. We got to know a lot of anecdotes and the entire family history generation after generation.  Beertje thought it was incredibly boring and fell asleep on my arm, which made it as a matter of fact easier for me to follow the tour with him.

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson

In the afternoon we reached Monticello, a world heritage site.  The historic plantation of the writer of the American constitution and the 3rd president of the USA is situated on a hill top near Charlottesville, giving great views on the valley but also the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.

Unlike the other plantations where there only was a handfull of tourists, this is a hotspot with special parking lots, security screenings and shuttle busses that take you from a visitor center lower on the hill to the actual famous residence.

Your ticket automatically includes a guided tour of the house at a specific assigned timeslot and it also allows you to follow some other more informal guided tours through the garden in different themes.  Although I knew the house is a neoclassical architectural example about which I've learned in school, we decided not to take another guided tour in the house that would force the children to be quiet for another hour while they'd not understand a word of the explanation once again. It's a real pity, but hey... it seemed like the best decision.

We did follow the informal "Slavery at Monticello" tour in the garden  while the children could play around nearby us. While the other plantations mentioned that there had been slaves without much details, it was interesting to get an in depth open explanation of the roles of slaves in the colonial industry, in the Monticello's community and history and in the personal life of this "enlightened" president who had put "that all men are created equal" in the constitution as an important slave owner.

While I hadn't had a very clear view what'd we visit that day beforehand, it had become a sunny beautiful and interesting day


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