Charming Charleston

Published: June 30th 2018
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Charleston has been a destination that I have been fascinated with for years. The laid back mentality has always been a draw and a complete opposite environment compared to New York. I recently went there with my friend Mike. We got through security easily in JFK. Our gate was right near the food court which was very convenient. We went to Cheeburger Cheeburger for lunch. This was the worst food of the trip by far. I ordered a chicken burger and Mike got a regular burger. We both agreed the food was bland with no seasoning at all. Thankfully the fries was decent or the meal would have been a total failure. JetBlue had an effective boarding of the plane. My TV only worked half the time and the other half would go black. Next to me I had a very large man who leaned his arm on the rest in the middle which made changing the channel virtually impossible. Mike had a large woman on the other side with similar issues. It was a little bumpy the flight, but quick at 1 hour 50 minutes.

As the plane comes down you see trees all around, flat land and a few buildings. We landed 20 minutes early. The airport in Charleston is very small with a lot of unique shops and clean. There was a nice waiting area near baggage claim for people waiting to meet up with a passenger. The ride share area was so easy to find and I wish that other airports would follow suit with it. The drive down in the Lyft car there was a lot of traffic going the opposite direction. We found out from the driver that one of the bridges had mechanical issues that was being fixed. There was only 2 bridges in and out of Charleston. The city itself is so charming as you go into the downtown area. We stayed at the Andrew Pinckney Inn. I couldn't say enough excellent things about the hotel.

You check into the hotel at the lobby across the street. You need to get the room key from the lobby in order to check in. In the lobby, there is a variety of cookies, coffee, tea, juice and water depending on the day. The cookies was absolutely amazing. We went upstairs to the 2nd floor. Our room had an updated bathroom, large beds and big closet. There was some outdated furniture in the room and in the meeting room outside where we were staying. There was a lot of color on the walls, tropical paintings and small plants on the balcony outside the room. We got ready for dinner and then walked to the restaurant. It was a very easy walk to Jestine's Kitchen. It was such a cute looking cottage restaurant with old school music. The founder of the restaurant lived to 112 years old. It was excellent service from the moment we walked into dinner. We got a cucumber salad to start off for free as a pallet cleanser. It was refreshing and light. I had a fried pork chop, okra gumbo and butter beans. The dinner was so amazingly tasty and very cheap. The pork chop had a luscious gravy on top, okra gumbo was in a tomato sauce and the butter beans was soft and tender. The service for the whole meal was spectacular. The waitress recommended this desert that was a Coca Coca cake. It was light, moist and a hunt of Coca Cola. It also had a little chocolate in it as well. I would totally recommend this my favorite restaurant we ate on the whole trip.

There was a Welcome Charleston center next door. The people inside was very friendly and gave maps and directions. It was all a free service. The buildings outside on the main street had different colors and the city was very charming lit up at night. We went back to the hotel to the 4th floor which offered such stunning views of the city. There was a deck area with chairs all over. This is where the breakfast and wine/cheese would take place. We left the hotel and walked to St Philips church and cemetery. The church goes back to 1680. It was amazing the age of the church and the size of it. It was so breathtaking to see. We walked onto Dock Street and this theatre stood there in bronze. It was lit up at night time with imposing columns all around the theatre. We found this under the radar bar called Bar Normandy. This place began our happening stop each night. The owners was originally from West Virginia. We found out that Charleston doesn't have many locals and most people we met moved to Charleston from another destination. I had a beer and a drink called blackberry farm. The drinks was very tasty. We walked around the city a little more and it began to drizzle. The city was glowing at night time and eventually we headed back to the hotel for shower and sleep.

The bed was very comfortable for sleep. We went upstairs to breakfast. It was delicious with biscuits, quiche, bacon, hard boiled eggs, muffins, toast and cereal. It was overall very good and there was some small varieties each day. We realized after breakfast that we bought the wrong Fort Sumter tickets. We had bought it to pick us up at Patriots Point, however Liberty Square was a lot closer to our hotel. The customer service was excellent and allowed us to switch the time and place of pick up for the boat to take us over to Fort Sumter. We had to print out the new itinerary at the front desk since the business center computer wasn't working properly. The Fort Sumter tickets we bought online included a package that included admission to the Aquarium. We went into the Aquarium before the Fort Sumter tour. It was son amazing with a wide variety of displays that allowed interactions between kids and different sea creatures. In addition, there was jelly fish, sharks, turtles, colorful fishes, stingrays, pelican, rattlesnake, crab, seahorses, flounders in tank hiding in sand and a bald eagle. There was a microeye discovery machine. You could put your hand in to magnify it and see the hair, blood vessels and other intricacies in the hand. We took a boat to Fort Sumter. It takes about 30 minutes to get there. This was the spot where the Civil War began. It was one of the items on our list of things I was most excited to do since I enjoy learning about history.

It took 30 minutes to get out to the spot. On the ship we found out that South Carolina was the first state to succeed from the Union. We saw Morris Island where the movie Glory took place. You got the fort and the history really comes to life. There was old cannons around, parts of the original wall still standing, artillery shells and cleaners of cannons. You walk up the steps and have beautiful views of Charleston harbor all around. The bridge was in plain site along with a gentle cool breeze. The whole experience just was surreal to be there and experience it. Inside the museum, there was a well done museum with confederate looking flag and artifacts from the original fort. We took the tour back and headed to East Bay Deli for lunch. It was a delicious lunch spot. I got a Carolina sandwich which had turkey, sprouts, swiss and bacon. It came with chips and pickles. It was a good light lunch. In addition, the service was good and they brought food to your table after you ordered and got a number.

We left the restaurant and walked back to the hotel. We relaxed for a little and then went to the wine/cheese event between 4-5pm. Each day the hotel offers this and I was pleasantly surprised. There was a wide variety of cheeses and the wine selection was between Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio. The event was upstairs where breakfast took place. There was excellent shade from the rain, as well as a nice breeze. We went back to the room to get ready for dinner. We walked around for a little before Poogan's Porch for dinner. We walked down Meeting street beforehand and saw horse drawn carriages. It was a nice breeze and not too hot outside. We saw Michael church and cemetery. There was grave stones around 200 years old still in decent shape. We also got to see city hall. Poogan's Porch was a converted house with a swanky bar. You walk around and see photos of famous celebrities that visited the restaurant, such as Jim Carrey and James Brolin. There was signed memorabilia as well. We went upstairs and jazz music was playing. It was a very classy type restaurant, but could dress casual to go. At dinner, we met a couple that was going to be moving down from New Jersey to Charleston. This continued the theme of non locals moving down to the city. I had a Westbrook White thai beer and she crab soup to start off. The soup was delicious, and the beer was refreshing. The crab didn't get lost in the soup. I had shrimp and grits for dinner. The grits was soft and creamy. The shrimp was cooked to perfection. The vibe of seeing the old photographs and the ambiance really made it a huge success to be at the restaurant. Mike and I got a Blackberry lime bread pudding for desert. You could really taste the lime refreshing flavor and the blackberries was on the bottom of the dish. On the way out, we found out that Poogan was a dog and that the restaurant was named after him. We headed out to Bar normandy for a drink. I got a chilled red wine which I enjoyed and went back to the room for sleep.

We had breakfast the next morning with a few different offerings of yogurt with fruit, granola, broccoli/cheddar quiche, hard boiled eggs and biscuit. We did a free walking tour with Scott. He was fantastic and very knowledgable. We found out on the tour that 40% of slaves went through Charleston. We saw from the outside the Old Slave Mart Museum where slaves was sold inside during the Civil War. We saw the Old Exchange Provost Marketplace which was another place where slaves was sold. We saw Rainbow Row. It is a collection of 13 houses in different colors. The tour allowed us to see Charleston Harbor, Castle Pickeney, Mount Pleasant, Solomon Island, Fort Sumter and the Nathanial Russell House. In front of the house, there was huge magnolias and beautiful gardens. We saw St Michaels church. This was the oldest church to the survive the fire in 1800's.

After the tour finished, we went to the Nathanial Russell house tour. We had Mary Lou as the tour guide. There huge staircase with beautiful rooms and furniture. There was such intricate details in all the rooms with a few of them having 24 karat gold. The slave quarter was a lot lower of a ceiling compared to the other rooms that had high ceilings. Nathanial Russell was a very influential person that helped to build Charleston into the city it is today. It was a 1 hour tour. We walked through Charleston market. There was a lot of cool unique interesting things to buy. We went to Low County Bistro for lunch. It was this cute place right next to the market. I had a fried flounder sandwich and twice baked potato salad. The sandwich was crisp and flaky with a sweet onion and potato salad that tasted exactly like a baked potato. The weather turned for the worst as it began to rain very hard. The weather in the city is generally humid with on and off showers. It rains and then cools down the city. This repeats each day. We went to the marketplace to get gifts after lunch.

We back to lunch and relaxed. We left for dinner however the streets was flooded from all the rain. The city is called low country for this very reason. There was cars driving through big puddles along with bicyclists trying to do the same activity in getting through the flooding. There was a drainage system watching the water go down to clear the floods. It took some creative maneuvering to get through the streets which reminded me of Frogger the Game. We had to push back the reservation 30 minutes just to get to the restaurant which wasn't far at all from the hotel. We went to the Charleston crab market for dinner. An interesting thing they had on the menu was if you hooked seafood from fishing they can cook the local catch. I had fried soft shell crabs with red rice and remoulade sauce along with a Holy City washout wheat beer. It was a delicious meal with very friendly servers. The bathroom in the restaurant titled the men's room as he crabs and for females as she crabs. The fried food in Charleston wasn't as heavy as I had expected. I thought it would be similar to New Orleans food. We went to Peace Pie to get ice cream sandwiches. This place was amazing with a plethora of different flavored sandwiches. I got a Banana Cream and tasted so much Banana in it plus it was refreshing. We went back to the room to sleep.

I woke up the next day at 6:45 as a garbage truck was outside making a lot of noise. We went upstairs to breakfast where I had turkey and cheese on a croissant, instant grits and a few items that was in repetition from the previous days. We walked to the Old Slave Museum. There was indoors slave trading until 1863. Thomas Ryan owed the market. It was a very somber experience as you learned about families getting split up at the auction. Once slaves was brought over from Africa, they were fattened up, exercised and coached for the auctions. If you had a specialty such as cooking, cleaning you would be worth more at auction. We found out that 18% of slaves died on the way to America. Slavery existed in New Amsterdam aka New York in the 1600's before it migrated to the south. An estimated 27 million people are still slaves somewhere today in the world. Slaves was sold at market with a bill of port which looked equivalent to a stock certificate. The only bad thing was no photos was allowed during the tour, but it was worth the value for the tour. We got a discount for doing Scott's tour and it only cost $4.00. The sad thing was it wasn't crowded or highly publicized. I would recommend more people to check out the tour.

We went to the House of Jerky after the tour. They had a lot of random flavors, such as mako shark, python, kangaroo, in addition to normal flavors like teriyaki, bacon and maple pork. We stopped into the Spice and Tea Exchange. There was a lot of many different spices and tea blends. You could make your own spice or tea blend which was a pretty cool place that we checked out. It was so hot out that day and the worst of all the days we spent in Charleston. We took Lyft as a great way to get around and not use a rental car. We went to Drayton Hall. We paid for the tour at the gate before we drove up. It was so odd the setup for paying to get in before you go towards the welcome center. It was very close to the plantation from the welcome center with some restorations done on the house. There was flowers outside and it was built by slaves during the American Revolution. There was such intimate details inside the house and was built by slaves. We waited awhile for the Lyft to get us since it was so far outside the city.

We took the Lyft to Magnolia Gardens. We walked into Hope Gardens which offered a variety of cool things to see, such as flowers, turtles, ponds, statues and birds. This place was also constructed by the Drayton family from Drayton hall. The funniest thing was at one point we saw this peacock open its feathers. This one girl didn't really notice the beauty of the peacock kept saying "So Pretty" while snapping a million photos. She barely noticed how cool it was to see this and sounded extremely fake. She was with a bachelorette party. We had a Lyft driver going back to the airport that explained her whole life about having 3 kids and was all over the place with her stories. We got to the airport and the flight was delayed 3.5 hours. It was overall an awful experience as there was no explanation for what caused the delay. The weather was perfect in New York and Charleston so it couldn't have been that. We had Burger King for lunch. I got a chicken sandwich with onion rings. It was a decent meal. We got Desano Pizza bakery for dinner. We ordered a margarita pizza which was decent. The airport was crowded when we got there but emptied out by the time we were ready to take off for the flight. We spent about 6 hours in the the airport. We got onto the plane and JetBlue ordered in Papa John's pizza from outside the airport. We had already had pizza and wasn't in the mood to eat it. People started to cheer like idiots upon receiving the free pizza. It was dumb considering how long we waited to get onto the plane and would have preferred a voucher for a reduced flight. The TV's went out during the flight for 25 minutes. We landed in New York around 12:00AM. We tried to get a Lyft driver but the first one never came to pick us up. We finally got a second driver and it started to rain hard going home. Overall it was another amazing trip spending it with a great friend. I would recommend Charleston and go back again in a heartbeat.


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