Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Wednesday, November 27 - Buffalo, NY
We took a cab to the airport , at 4:30 P.M. , for the 6:30 American Airlines flight to Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina . From there, we flew into Charleston. We picked up our rental car and drove, via Rt. 526, I 26 and N 17 to Charleston, exiting on East Bay St.. We found 19 Vendue Range, and checked into the Vendue Inn. We unpacked and retired, bushed from the day. The inn is an old converted warehouse. Our room was small, but charming, and had a 4 poster canopy bed, and all modern conveniences. It was a good choice.
Continental breakfasts were available daily in the dining room, from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Wine and cheese were served in a sitting room, from 4-6 p.m. Parking was available, in a ramp, at no charge. It was very New Englandish and cozy. We were pleased.
Down the street, is a large municipal pier, that stretches some 200 yards into the Cooper River. From it, a short distance across the river, could be seen "Patriot's Point". The World War II aircraft carrier Yorktown , the nuclear powered merchant ship Savannah , a sub, and two other naval vessels are permanently berthed, and open for tours. In addition, the riverwalk extends some two miles, along the Cooper River, to the end of Battery Park and White Point Gardens. It ambles by most of the impressive 19th century historic mansions of Charleston.
Across the street, sit the Anchorage Inn and an old dockside tavern, Moultrie's , dating from 1820. For the younger set, the JukeBox disco jumped every night. This location is a very convenient location from which to tour the whole historic district.
Thursday, November 28 - Charleston, South Carolina
We arose early and had breakfast, in the dining area, at 8:15. Coffee, danish, melon and orange juice are self service, in an intimate setting. We walked north on East Bay, and over N. Market St., to view the open air "public market" . It was just setting up. The area has several, large, covered, open sided buildings. Vendors set up all manner of tourist items and produce for sale. The two streets flanking the central stalls have boutiques, restaurants and bars. Also, there are several horse drawn carriages for rent, during the daylight hours.
We selected an "Old South" carriage, whose driver Rebecca took us on a 45 minute drive through the historic quarter. We heard several amusing anecdotes about "hush puppies", earthquake bolts, horse urine markers with flags and a potpourri of architectural and historical background of the area. It was a pleasant and interesting ride.
After the tour, and a stop at St. Phillips Church, to see the grave of statesman John C. Calhoun, we walked south along E. Bay, past the historic mansions near the Battery. They are all impressive. Each is several stories high, with a unique history of its own. We walked along Meeting St., past "Two Meeting Street Inn" and the "Calhoun Mansion" and admired the architecture. Then, we returned to the Inn, to retrieve our car for a dash to the City Marina.
There, we boarded a "Grey Line" tour boat , for a ride through the harbor, to Fort Sumter, in the outer harbor. The fort, now a national park, was in a state of considerable disrepair. We could see Fort Johnson on the near shore, where the first shot had been fired in the Civil War, on Major Anderson's garrison. We toured the museum and grounds. Later in the war, the place had been bombarded by a fleet of iron-clad monitors (1863) and virtually levelled, by Union Shore batteries. Still, it was history. After the tour, we repaired to our Inn, for a brief "R & R."
At 4:30 p.m., we joined several couples for wine and cheese in the lobby. We met a nice retired couple from Syracuse, Anne and Irwin Klein. We joined them for dinner in the Inn. Dinner was a delicious three course meal, with a choice of turkey or salmon and great desserts( $90 a couple.) Later, we took a brief stroll near the harbor, before retiring. It gets damp near the ocean, and the evening was chilly, so we turned in pretty early.
Friday, November 29 - Charleston, South Carolina
We arose early (7 a.m.), and breakfasted at the Inn. We retrieved our rental car from the nearby garage. We drove up East Bay and across Calhoun, to Rt. #17, 15 miles south to Main Rd. and 13 miles east to Kiawah Island, a golf resort. Past the first security gate, we got to see the "Marsh Point" golf course complex. There is a nice restaurant, pool, beautiful beaches, shops and dune side villas. It has a challenging golf course. It looked very attractive.
Nearby,"Turtle Point" was okay, but "less." The second security gate kept us from"Osprey" and "Oceanside" golf courses, where the Rider Cup Championship had been played this summer. You had to have a tee time or a reservation to even get near the courses. It is a beautiful island, lush and attractive. We would like to return.
We retraced our drive along Main Rd. to Rt. 17 and headed south to I 95, Rt. 170 and 278. It is about 90 miles to Hilton Head Island, near Savannah, Georgia. It was loaded with tourists. We drove the length of the island to "Harbourtown" and lunched at the "Crazy Crab", on she crab soup and oysters. The traffic was very heavy.
We returned, via 278 to 170 to 21, through Beaufort, S.C. and Rte. #17 to Charleston. (91 miles) Most of the seacoast is a tidal marsh with rivers everywhere.
Tired with the days driving, we stretched our legs along the quayside, Battery and East Bay. The area was still very crowded with tourists. It was warm and in the 70's.
We again stopped for wine and cheese, at the Inn, and chatted with Ed and Dorothy Kiernan, of Florida (nee Michigan). We met and chatted with another couple from Beaufort, South Carolina, until 6 p.m.
We retired, lazed and read.
Saturday, November 30 - Charleston, South Carolina
We got up early and had breakfast at the Inn. We walked along seaside, up Broad St. (lawyers, insurance ) to King St. After wandering around King and Queen Streets, we stopped at the Broad St. Cafe for coffee. At 9:30, we entered the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon on E. Bay. It is a beautiful building from the 18th century . It houses a dungeon in the basement, where colonial officials had been jailed by the British circa 1770's. It is a little touristy, but interesting for kids.
We then toured the Edmonston/Alston House, at 21 E. Battery. There are interesting furniture and period pieces, with a large double tiered veranda on the side of the House. Confederate General P.T. Beauregard supposedly watched the Sumter bombardment from the second story veranda. Later, the house served as a headquarters for union troops. The $8 ticket covered both this house and the Nathaniel Russell house on Meeting St.
Next, for $10 each, we toured the Calhoun Mansion, on Meeting St. This is a fantastic, late 19th century beauty. Much of the interior is lined with different hardwoods. It is incomparable. An enormous dining room, music room with skylights, and living room, are the highlights. The stenciling and window treatments in each, is phenomenal. The house has served as a setting for several films. A criminal lawyer named Howe now owns it, and has spent 3-4 million on renovations. It is a must see. All of the other historic homes pale in comparison. As a sidelight, the original owner, Williams, was a blockade runner (ala. Rhett Butler). He made a fortune in the Civil War. No one seemed anxious to claim him.
Lastly, up the street, we toured the Nathaniel Russell House, with its three story spiral staircase. Much of the home is undergoing renovations and is in tough shape. About toured out, we walked up E. Bay to "The Seafood House" and lunched on seafood stew.
A few blocks over, is the public market. Throngs of people filled up every space. The stalls were a combination of interesting local arts and crafts and the usual flea market junk. It was wall to wall shoppers and definitely too crowded for me.
We walked over Market to King St. and window shopped the pricey stores around the Omni Hotel. Nice, but they are expensive. Out of curiosity, we looked into the graveyards at St. Phillipps Church.
It was hot , near 80 degrees, so we walked quayside and sat in Waterfront Park. We stopped in Moultrie's Tavern for a Killian's Red , and then retired for a late afternoon nap.
That evening, we had dinner at "82 Queen", on Queen St. It is pricey, but good. Many tables were out of doors, in an interior court. We had swordfish, chicken and pecan bourbon pie.
After dinner, we walked to Tommy Condon's Irish Pub. Music was playing, but not Irish. We had a Killian's Red, and walked back to the Inn. It was 11 p.m. and the pier was still crowded. The temperature was still in the 70's, the Juke Box disco jumped and life was everywhere. We were dead tired and went back to the room and crashed.
Sunday, December 1 - Charleston, South Carolina
We got up early, had breakfast at the Inn, packed and checked out. It was already sunny, hot and humid. We drove up 17N to the Isle of Palms. At the far end of the island, is the Wild Dunes, golf resort. The damage from hurricane Hugo, to the palmetto trees, was still apparent. The complex is enormous. Condos, villas and private homes are everywhere. The golf course is sandy and hilly. We weren't overly impressed. We returned over 17 and 61 to the Magnolia Gardens, part of the Drayton Plantation, about 10 miles out of Charleston. Admission was $8 for the gardens and $4 more to tour the house. The manor house is modest, and not worth the price of admission. The gardens are fairly wild and in need of much care. They must be a real sight in March and April, when they bloom. Azaleas, camellias, rose, and magnolia, are everywhere abundant, though dormant. A series of paths weaves through the swamp and along the Ashley River. We took our pictures and exited. About this time, sightseer's fatigue set in. We vetoed the planned tour of the Drayton Hall, right next door. It was time to pack it in.
Along Rt. 61, we espied a Burger King and stopped for lunch. Route 7 took us to Rt. 526 and the airport. We arrived early (2:30), and watched the second half of the Bills/Jets game, ( Bills 24-Jets13) in the Bar.
The return flight was lengthy, via Columbia, SC and Raleigh Durham, NC. We arrived in Buffalo at 9:15 p.m., but unfortunately our bags didn't make the Raleigh connection. After filing the appropriate claim form, we cabbed home, to read several papers and retire.
Charleston is a beautiful weekend get away. It has interesting architecture, several good restaurants and nice weather. Nearby Kiawah Island Golf Resort looks very promising. There are enough tours, history, shopping and points of interest to satisfy anyone. I would definitely recommend it for a 2 or 3 day stop.