AirToob Lightning
Charlottesville, Virginia, October 2010

I had to visit Charlottesville in Virginia for a few days in late October, which was no hardship because it is one of my very favourite towns.

It has been rated as "the best place to live in the USA", and in spite of becoming a victim of its own success as more and more people move in around it, it's still a great place.

Charlottesville is a University town, set in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, and was the local big town for "The Waltons" (which was actually filmed in California).

Charlottesville seen from the Monticello Memory Gardens, close to the famous Michie Tavern and Monticello, the estate and resting place of Thomas Jefferson

The heart of Charlottesville (and one of the main reasons for its immense popularity) is its historic Downtown, and in particular the Downtown Mall. You can walk from one end of the Mall to the other in just a few minutes, enjoying the restaurants, bookshops, pavement cafés, street entertainment, theatres and much else besides.

People read here, promenade here, play chess in the Mudhouse Internet café, and just sit here and do nothing but watch the world go by. It's my kind of place!

A fountain in one of the many pavement cafés

A pawn shop, Charlottesville-style!

At the west end of the Mall... the building on the left is the indoor air-conditioned ice rink (which was under threat of closure, but has thankfully reopened as the multi-use Main Street Arena)

At the other end of the Mall is the Charlottesville Pavilion where many events take place. If the Mall was being built today, no doubt JC Penney would be at one end and Sears at the other - and Charlottesville would be nowhere near as popular as it it is.

[Continues in Charlottesville Part 2]