Saturday, May 19, 2012

Walking through Chuck's town. An Anniversary Adventure.

Every year, Ton and I celebrate our Anniversary with a trip. It’s a shared experience and I love it more than presents. Well, it depends on the presents but MOSTLY I love it more than presents!!! This year, we decided to go to Charleston, South Carolina. Being a Southern Belle by birth, I am ashamed to admit this was my first ever trip to visit this Grand Dame of the South. We started our trip with a walking tour of Charleston. I read the online reviews and settled on the Charleston Footprints walking tour, led by an 8th generation Charlestonian, Michael Trouche. And it was a great choice! Michael was personable and funny. He shared history from the beginnings of the city, right up to present day including lots of stories and memories from his childhood. All the information was presented in a cultural context-- such as the drinking habits of the various old “institutions” associated with all the various ethnicities that settled the area! I have to admit, that I have precious few photos of the historic houses. It was really difficult to catch their charm and splendor.

Hiberian Hall, meeting place of the Hibernian Society, an Irish benevolent organization founded in 1801. On the National Historic register, built in 1840, designed by Thomas U. Walter of Philadelphia, who also designed the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building. If you were an important Irishman, this was the place to meet. And drink.

Saint Philip’s Church. Where the chimes ring at slightly after the quarter hours, so as not to conflict with the other church chime that has been chiming the quarter hour for longer.
The Huguenot Church. Founded on this spot in Charleston, 1687. The original church was destroyed by fire in the 1796 and this structure replaced it in 1800. It is the ONLY remaining Huguenot church in America.
We went into this church. Inside was an original Henry Erben Pipe organ was installed in the church in 1847. It is one of the few completely original Erben pipe organs in existence.
Our next stop was the Dock Street Theater. We also went inside this historic structure. IMG_3377
This is Michael, pointing out the craftsmanship in the original architectural details in the theater.
Details like this hand carved plaster ceiling.
One of the most beautiful stops on the tour was St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. What a glorious church interior. The stained glass Tiffany windows are incredible!
What sets the architecture of Charleston apart from most places is the majority of these stately homes don’t have a grand front that faces the street. Sure, some of the do, but most have fronts that face each other, while the side faces the street. This allows for the best air flow, allowing the breezes from the harbor to be drawn into the town, rather like a chimney draws the smoke.
But I still think it’s so silly to have that front door that opens onto a porch. The main door of the house is in the middle. So you have to unlock the front door, walk down the porch and then unlock the REAL front door. Seems like a lot of trouble to me. But I guess it keeps the winter winds at bay. And the occasional drunkard that wanders onto your porch for a nap.
After our tour ended, I was hot. And tired. I needed food and a cold one. We wandered around, past the Slave Market (which never sold slaves, did you know that?? It was forbidden to sell slaves in there. Instead it was were slaves and free people of color sold their goods) until we stumbled upon a restaurant sign advertising a roof top deck. What a grand idea!! Sitting on a roof with no shade when it’s 90 degrees! Let’s do it!!! Henry's House Charleston was a GREAT choice! IMG_3410
Nothing like a Blue Moon beer with orange on a hot day.
Unless it’s shrimp tacos with chipotle lime slaw, pico de gallo and sweet chilli infused sour cream AND a Belgian Blue Moon. MMMMMM. It was divine!!!
Dutchboy, being disgustingly healthy (and boring! OOPS! Did I say that out loud!!?!?) had a Greek salad. But he said it was very good, too.
Speaking of Dutch boy, here he is. In 90+ degree weather. On a rooftop in Charleston. See anything wrong with this picture??? Well, I have to admit, he didn’t get sunburned while I got severely toasted.

As great as lunch was, we couldn’t linger. We had a boat to catch. Our first day was planned down to the minute. I’m a fairly organized traveler, but this was an ambitious day even by my standards. We paid the bill and headed to the Charleston Maritime Center to take our Harbor Tour.
Now, anyone who knows me longer than two minutes probably knows that I don’t like boats. I am terrified of the ocean. It’s big, it moves and it has creepy crawly things it that can eat you, sting you and make you sick. Boats sink. I can’t swim. But Dutchboy being Dutch, loves the water. Thinks boats are grand. So my love for him, and my need to see EVERYTHING, often puts me on a boat.
I was clinging to that post behind me. The wind was blowing so hard, I thought I would fall. I was dizzy, I was sick with fear. I was PANICKING. But I look really calm, don’t I??? LIE TO ME PEOPLE. LIE TO ME!!! Oh, and behind me is the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. One of the true Charleston icons. But more on that later. You’ll see it so often you’ll be sick of it. Trust me.
One of the things I never got tired of, and one of the things that quieted my panic, was the pelicans. I love them!
The sailing was smooth, the pelicans were beautiful, and Charleston slid by like a graceful Belle on her evening stroll through the magnolias.
That tall building there? That’s the hotel where JFK stayed when he was stationed in Charleston.
Also included was a cruise past Fort Sumter, of Civil War fame. Doesn’t look like much, does it? The walls were higher back then. But the Yankees were so pissed off that they never took Sumter back after the Rebels gained control that they shelled it for an additional 500+ days. The height of the old walls is marked by a ring on the flag poles.
You can see the ring marker on the South Carolina flag pole (it’s the dark blue flag for those who don’t know).
While on the cruise, we had to yield to a HUUUUUUUUUUUGE container ship. It barely fit under the Ravenel bridge. After it cleared, we followed in its wake, crossing under the bridge ourselves.
Told you that you would see too much of that bridge. After crossing under the bridge, we returned to our starting point and disembarked. By this time my neck was red enough to live up to the moniker and I was starving AGAIN. Luckily, I had made reservations for us at Hominy Grill.
I was so excited to eat at Hominy Grill. It had been featured on numerous shows on Food Network, as well as in Bon Appetit magazine. It was FAMOUS. The food is good. The service? Not so much. It took FOREVER after we were seated to get waited on, even though the place was NOT busy. In fact, it took so long that I was almost ready to leave. But a kind waiter inquired if we had been helped, and I turned on my best “yes, I’m a Southern lady so I’ll be nice but I’m really not happy” voice. It worked. Service after that was impeccable.
They brought out boiled peanuts instead of bread. It’s a nice, homey Southern touch.
I had already decided to have their specialty, Shrimp and Grits. After all, it’s their signature. It’s what put them on the map. And they were good. But I had better at other places, so I’m not really sure what the hype was about. Maybe it was an off night???
Dutchboy decided to up the ante and his foodie cred by ordering curried chicken salad with apples & toasted almonds on a kaiser roll. Okay, that’s not a huge leap but at least it wasn’t a boring salad!
The best part of this meal though was dessert. There was a new offering on the menu and I could NOT resist it. It was an oatmeal porter beer with salted caramel ice cream float. Oh my goodness. May not look like much but it was sex on a spoon. Not sex with your husband, but sex with Dave Grohl on his tour bus. Yeah. EXACTLY. A little trashy maybe but totally worth it.

After a dessert that good, I needed a cigarette. Darned shame I don’t smoke. We opted instead to extend the day a bit and end it with an evening sunset stroll along Folly Beach. And NO I DIDN’T TAKE PICTURES. What kind of girl do you think I am, the kind that would ruin a romantic moment like that with a camera?!?!?! Of course not. That’s Dutchboy’s job. And for once he did the right thing and left the camera in the car. So there. The end of day one. Are you tired of this yet?? There’s three more days to come!!! All the photos from this day can be found on Flickr.

1 comment:

CountryGirlGourmet said...

Dear Nicole,
Wonderful photos! Looked like you had a great time! I used to live in Charleston and it is such a beautiful city. Next time you all are down that way, go to a wine/gourmet shop in West Ashley called In Good Taste! It's a wonderful place and their wine selection is to die for. Oh, she does a great chicken liver and truffle Pâté.