We’re one of those cute blogger couples you follow on Instagram. I cover food. Ines covers travel. We write about restaurant openings and trending hot spots. We used to think our job required flying to big cities and foreign countries. Then, the pandemic hit and suddenly the American passport was useless. So, we rented a car and traded the Delta we knew – “the world’s most trusted airline” – for the Mississippi Delta we didn’t – Greenwood.
Even if you’ve never heard of this quintessential Mississippi town you’ve probably heard of Viking Range. Greenwood is home to the company’s headquarters and its Viking Cooking School. Of course, I would lose my food blogger license if I didn’t take a class. Fortunately, the school was just across the street from our suite at The Alluvian which Ines chose for its 7,000-square-foot spa.
The hotel receptionist checking us into The Alluvian, Greenwood’s award-winning luxury boutique hotel, has good news and bad news. “Bad news first, please,” requests Ines. Like many local establishments taking COVID-19 precautions, the hotel is scaling back some services. But the good news makes up for it. Just across the street, class is back in session at Viking Cooking School. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, we manage to score two spots in the morning’s Date Night class. The talented instructor teaches us how to spice up a romantic dinner and whip up a mean risotto at the same time.
That afternoon we trade our matching aprons for his and hers robes at the hotel’s 7,000 square-foot spa. Since I like to fish, the spa menu’s Field & Stream section, featuring the “Sportsman’s Special,” caught my eye. But, in keeping with the date night theme, we opt for the “Date Night in the Delta” package. Any stress that doesn’t dissipate during our soak in a sweet tea bath melts away during our couple’s hot Delta river rock massage. “I’m relaxed to the max,” I tell Ines.
Greenwood isn’t in the Guinness Book of World Records, but maybe that’s a good thing. It’s not crowded with tourists; however, there are at least a dozen things it does better than other destinations. For starters, it’s home to one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. In a way, it’s also the birthplace of rock and roll. Before there was Elvis and his blue suede shoes, there was Robert Johnson and the Delta Blues.
Our final morning in Greenwood begins in its nationally-known book shop. In fact, a New York Times writer called Turnrow Book Company one of the most beautiful bookstores she knows. We take some photos for Insta and despite the fact we both transitioned to e-readers long ago, we treat ourselves to a few old-fashioned books. Turnrow is not the only independently-owned shop we visit. I find the perfect pair of loafers at Goldberg’s – a shoe store celebrating its centennial in 2021. Ines completes her Christmas shopping at Etsy-esque boutiques featuring local artists and artisans. Like a kid’s in a candy store, her blue eyes sparkle.
Once our shopping is done, we dive into learning about the Delta Blues. Because Greenwood was home to so many game-changers in the history of the blues, and ultimately, rock-and roll, it boasts 8 of the state’s 200 Mississippi Blues Trail markers. We visit all of them but are most moved by Baptist Town. Morgan Freeman was raised in this historic African American neighborhood. It’s also the last place where the legendary Robert Johnson lived before his untimely death. Had he not been poisoned by his lover’s husband, he would have been alive to attend his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and to accept his awards at the Grammy’s. He also probably would have kept a copy of the Rolling Stone Magazine ranking him the 5th best guitarist of all time.
“I don’t want to leave Greenwood on a sad note,” I say at the cemetery where Johnson is reportedly buried. “We’re not,” Ines says. “Look at how fondly he’s remembered here. His legacy will never die.” I think about it for a minute before deciding she’s right. The late musician’s spirit, like his music, and like Greenwood and the spirit of the Mississippi Delta, will live on. The best part is we didn’t have to board a plane or cross an international border to learn this.