Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5 - Horse Drawn Carriage Ride, Angel Oak, Fitt Flops and Hank's Seafood Dinner

This morning began as did the last two... a hearty breakfast at the Inn in the courtyard. When we felt we had enough sustanance to last a few hours we walked to the carriage ride area next to The Market. We didn't have long to wait until our guide showed up to pick up the maximum of 16 passengers of which we were two! I don't revall the guide's name but the horse's name is Montague... a Belgian draft horse. Apparently you never know what part of Charleston you'll be touring because before we could take off the driver had to check in with the tax people. Tax must be paid at the rate of $2 per person plus an additional amount each time a carriage goes out on a tour. In addition, a bingo like apparatus spits out a ball dictating what section of Charleston that particular carriage will visit for the tour. Unfortunately we got the must quiet section of the city... it was full of beautiful houses but sooooo quiet. In fact, there is an ordinance which prohibits the carriages in that section of Charlotte after 6PM. On the tour we learned the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery... a graveyard is always next to a church...a cemetery is not. We learned that people paint the ceiling of porches a light blue to keep ghosts away. In addition, there is a noticeable slant to the drain away water. The slant is VERY noticeable! After our ride I decided that my sneakers just were not comfortable enough. We found a Flip Flop Store in which they sold Fitt Flops! I purchased a pair on sale but decided that I need to find the 'Fiorello' model which really struck my fancy. After all this 'hard work' we felt we deserved a cool drink and went to the roof of the Pavilion Hotel near Market Street. What we found was a beauful pool, monogrammed towels, wrought iron tables with bar chairs and umbrellas. From the roof we could see many of the steeples of the churches we had passed as well as a Carnival Cruise Ship which was in port. After taking many photos we returned to the hotel, freshened up and went to John's Island to see the 1500 year old Angel Oak Tree. It is thought that the term 'angel oak' came from the fact that the tree appears to have an aura... like an angel but actually it was named the Angel Oak by a man named 'Angel'. The tree is 56 feet tall, the circumference is 25.5 feet and shades 17, 700 square feet. It is truly a site to see! After returning from that adventure we partook of 'afternoon tea'. We chatted with some people from Ohio and then once again freshened up (you wilt very easily in Charleston... the relative humidity must be a constant 80%) and went out to eat a ridiculously expensive dinner at Hank's Seafood Restaurant. I had s Seafood A La Wando which is sauteed shrimp, scallops and fish deglazed with Sherry, finished with crabmeat, button mushrooms and scallion in a saffron shellfish cream sauce... served with, what else, fried grit cake. It was insanely delicious... with a nice Riesling... mmmm mmmm good! Jim is relaxing watching the MD/Miami football game. I am in bed ready sleep so I'll say goodnight! We're off to Savannah tomrow. We'll see what Tuesday brings.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 4 - Ft. Sumter, The Market and the Never Ending Walk

We woke early this morning... we had filled out our breakfast request form and left it on our door handle by midnight last night. We went out to the courtyard where we were served fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, tasty bacon and bagels with cream cheese. We also enjoyed wonderful tea and fresh orange juice as we listened to the bells of the local churches. There are a great many churches in this part of Charleston.... dating back to the 1700's. At 10 we drove to the site of the ferry which would take us to Fort Sumter. On the trip we learned that there was much disagreement with the federal government and that the people of South Carolina, as well as other souther states, wanted small federal government and to be able to govern themselves at the state level... which is what they felt the founding fathers had intended. SC was the first state to secede from the union. Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the U.S without a single vote of support from the southern states. It was felt that Lincoln's opinions and purposes were opposed to slavery and that the secession was justified becasue the federal government had encroached on the rights of the sovereign states. SC thought that slaveholding states will lose their power of self government and self protection and that the Fed would become their enemy. There were several federal installations around Charleston Harbor... Fort Sumter being one. In March of 1861 Lincoln was determined to keep federal authority but finally lost out to the Confederacy by April. Major Anderson, who held Fort Sumter with 84 troops without a single casualty finally turned Ft. Sumter over to the General Beauregard of the Confederate Army. It was fascinating to see the actual canons used in the fighting and 5 foor thick walls of the Fort Sumter. Upon our return from Fort Sumter we went to The Market on, where else, but Market Street! Unfortunately this market was not as fantastic as the one in Budapest, Erin, but it was fun to walk through. We could buy grits, rice and tea which were actually products of South Carolina. There were many jewelry vendors and grass weaving individuals who made beautiful bowls and baskets. We came back to the B&B for afternoon tea... actually iced tea, sweet tea and lemonade! We enjoyed some salmon mousse pastries and fresh fruit as well. While Jim went to church next door at St. John The Baptist Cathedral, I went on a walk of Charleston and took LOTS of photos of the beautiful homes' doors. I proceeded to get lost and called Jim for assistance since I had negelected to take a map! It never occurred to me to take out the IPHONE to see where I was! Oh well, I made it back to the B&B and have now rested my VERY weary feet. It is about 8PM and we're headed out for dinner! Went to the Blind Tiger Pub... sat in the courtyard for dinner. We're now back at the B&B and ready to rest p for tomorrow's adventure! What a wonderful day again! Love to all!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September 3, 2011 - Arrival in Charleston, SC

Our trip began with a Metro Ride to Washington National Airport. Because Shannon and Jeff live so close to BWI and because they are so kind as to provide shuttle service to said airport we usually fly out of BWI. The Metro experience was good and I would recommend it. The plane on wich we flew to Jacksonville was a jet...albeit a very small one. The seats were cramped but erfectly tolerable for only 1.5 hours. Jacksonville Airport is very orderly and we found the car rental company and the car rental pick-up very quickly. The airport is located north of the city and right on Interstate 95. It was a straight shot to the highway and becasue the posted speed is 70 we made it to Charleston in about 3 hours. There was not a single traffic light to be had until we arrived in Charleston. Amazing!!!!! Upon arrival at John Rutledge House, the B&B in which we are staying, we checked in and toured the beautiful house. We have a gas fireplace in our room, at least 14 foot ceilings and a canopied four poster bed... which has a set of steps to enable us to climb into the bed. Now I know where that term originated! We walked down to the Battery to catch the sunset and to enjoy the beauty of the incredible houses in Charleston. Most houses have entrances that do not fae the street. The lots seem to be long and narrow and most homes are behind wrought iron gates. The gas porch lights add to the already romantic look of these magnificent homes. We walked along the water where we were able to enjoy a lovely, warm breeze. At 8:45, after eating almost nothing all day, we went in search of a restaurant. We ended up at the Southend Brewery on East Bay Street. It is a micro brewery although we did not sample the beer. Instead we consumed a couple of incredible burgers that would rival any steakhouse in the DC area.
This vacation is off to a great start... we were actually in 4 states today and Washington DC! That does not happen often. Good night!