This week, I’m sharing my southern getaway to Charleston, S.C., with my husband and no kids (first time in four years!) I’m dishing on food, hot spots and some fun stories. Day 1 is here.
Day two did not disappoint, in any way.
We heard that the horse-drawn carriage rides were a must-do. The hype was correct. It gave us a great overview of the city, lots of history and it was the perfect way to start our day. The sun was shining and it was only a tiny bit chilly with hardly any wind. Palmetto came highly recommended and we were impressed with how well they took care of the animals. Hazard of being an agriculture major, you care about those things more than most people! We made reservations online the night before and I’m glad we did. It was a zoo and you get a discount if you do it in advance. We learned that times fill up fast during “high season.” Good to know.
Let’s go ahead and make that TRAVEL TIP #3:
Check the interwebs for deals. The visitor’s center had some, too. You just gotta ask!
We learned that the city highly regulates all those carriages. They have to, with as busy as Charleston is throughout the year. They divide the downtown area into three divisions and you find out, just before you depart, the area your carriage has randomly been assigned. We were sent off to the western area, home to the infamous City Jail, St. John the Baptist Cathedral, King Street (home of all the shopping!) and some of the prettiest homes I’ve ever seen. Our sweet horse, Justice, did a lovely job. Palmetto uses primarily mules, but some of their larger horses come from Amish farms. I guess after hauling some serious farm loads, city life has its perks.
After the hour-long ride, we were ready to stretch our legs. The City Market was just a block away, so we enjoyed about an hour of window shopping, sweetgrass basket making and a Moon Pie and Cheerwine, of course. Back in the day, when I worked for National FFA, I traveled to both N.C. and S.C. several times for work. I fell IN LOVE with those pies and that sweet drink. Man, they were just as good as I remembered. I do look sorta happy here, don’t I? The Market is several blocks of open air shopping. The vendors haul their goods in and out everyday. It was spectacular to see it all!
By this time, we’d definitely worked up an appetite. Sitting in a carriage and shopping takes work, people. Remember I told you about our waiter who shared an awesome restaurant suggestion? May I present, Martha Lou’s, aka “THE BEST FRIEND CHICKEN YOU WILL EVAH EAT.”
Yes, Martha Lou’s picture really is painted on the side of the hot pink building. Yes, it’s hot pink. Yes, it’s a total dive. Think duct tape holding the seats together kinda place. But you know what? Martha Lou’s reminded Scott and I that eating is an experience, not an event. When some folks from Family Dollar walked in, all the cooks shouted, “Family Dolla in the HOUSE!” And then we all laughed and ordered sweet tea and collard greens. Because that’s what you do in the south. We heard one of the cooks say, “Honey, if I had a penny for everytime someone said, ‘Lawd have mercy’ I’d be rich.” She ain’t lyin’.
Feast your eyes on that plate of awesome. Fried chicken, baked mac and cheese, collard greens and okra soup, my friends. I had the cornbread and bread pudding. At ML’s you can order one meat and three sides. The menu is on a tattered 8.5×11 sheet of paper, double-sided. You get about one minute to look it over and less than three seconds to decide. You also get the cutest waitress named Ruth who practically dances to your table to take your order. Hands down, this was our favorite dining experience.
And, that gets us to the afternoon. We were in the heart of American history, so we ventured to Fort Moultrie for a bit. We opted out of visiting Fort Sumter because you have to take the ferry over. We did see it from a distance, so it definitely counts. I think what struck Scott and I most about this coastal fort is just how much technology has changed wars and just how badly the government needs to update its 1960s circa films in the visitor’s center.
Before we left the Fort, we walked to the water’s edge and spotted some dolphins having a grand afternoon. The wind started picking up during our visit and it got downright chilly. Hey, keep in mind we’re Texans. We don’t do 60 and below. That chill probably had something to do with the breeze off the coast. So what did we do?
We left Fort Moultrie and headed to the beach. Because that’s the logical thing to do, right? We froze our shiny white hineys off at Sullivan’s Island. After a super-brisk five minute walk on the beach and a millisecond dip of the toes in the ocean, we beelined back to the car for the heater. Oh my stars it was cold. It was quite comical to see the vacationers in their swimming trunks and hoodies bearing the beach front. I thought they were nuts. Originally, we planned to stay and hang at the beach much longer but Mother Nature had other plans. We made one last stop at Pitt Street Bridge before heading back across the bridge to Charleston.
On a whim, we decided to swing by The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college. Our Aggie hearts share some pride with that university. It brought back some good memories. Some sweet friends of ours used to live just blocks from campus so we swung by their old house to wish it well. What a nice surprise to run into the new homeowner! Peter and Colleen, your house is still loved very much.
Aggie friends, does that ring look familiar? I think the Class of ’13 just gifted it to the university and it was just installed. Awesome!
After driving around campus, we noticed lots of cadets walking toward the baseball stadium. After a quick double check on our phones, we confirmed that the Dogs had a baseball game against Coastal Carolina. So, we pulled into the lot, bought two tickets and enjoyed six innings. As fate would have it, a MLB scout from the Atlanta Braves sat right behind us and we had a great time chatting. I think Scott is still in denial that I actually wanted to go to a college baseball game. Looks as if kid-pitch with John Paul is wearing off on me. Although, college did have a few more hits and a few less walks! We even got to see Shoeless Joe Jackson’s great, great, great nephew play ball. #thatreallyhappened
TRAVEL TIP #4:
Let the vacation lead you. We had more fun just “going” and letting providence lead us to the next thing. For this self-proclaimed Type A planner it felt pretty good to just go with the flow.
Since our fingers and toes were near frostbite at this point, we called it a night and headed to dinner at Water’s Edge over at Shem Creek. A colleague of Scott’s lives in Charleston and her husband manages the restaurant. They took great care of us and we loved our meal, the wine and the fabulous conversation. They had the very best crab bruschetta I’ve ever eaten. Oh my. And, the banana wrapped in a chocolate crepe was the perfect end to yet another gorgeous day in Charleston.
Tomorrow, I’ll share our unexpected private garden tour, a hidden oasis and the reason why I can’t stop dreaming about She-Crab.
Tuesday’s Sights, Sounds & Eats:
Palmetto Carriage (horse carriage rides)
City Market (open air shopping)
Martha Lou’s (lunch)
Fort Moultrie (American history)
Sullivan’s Island (beach)
The Citadel (military college)
Water’s Edge (dinner)