Thursday, April 19, 2012


My mom had a rather large milestone birthday this year. I don't think she would mind me telling you how old she is, but I'll leave that up to her. She had mentioned something earlier in the year about doing something with Dana and I for her birthday, maybe even going on a trip. Dana and I talked over Christmas and brought the idea up to Mom, who was on board right away. The hard part was deciding where to go. We wanted to go somewhere that none of us had been to before. It had to be a non-stop flight from Chicago (according to the high maintenance traveller of our group :) and it would be nice if it was driving distance for me since Knoxville is SO EXPENSIVE to fly out of. After tossing around a few cities we decided on Charleston, SC. It's a 6 hour drive from Knoxville, not ideal, but certainly do-able. And a quick flight from Chicago.

We arrived on the last Friday of March to beautiful blue skies and traffic...Dana and Mom's flight was delayed due to thunderstorms in Chicago, so I was able to pick them up at the airport and we all headed to the hotel together. However, just as we were getting close to our exit traffic stopped. Apparently the Cooper River Bridge Run is a big deal here. Over 40,000 runners participate in the annual 10k. Dana said she might have saw something about there being a race in Charleston the weekend we were there, but she didn't think it would be a big deal. She underestimated the popularity of the race. (In fact, I'm sure you've heard of "Ridiculously Photogenic Guy" - his picture was taken at this race.) The traffic wouldn't have been such a big deal, but my Mom had scheduled us on a walking tour of Charleston at 2:30pm. I picked them up at the airport a little after 1pm and we didn't get to our hotel until 2:20 or so. Our room wasn't ready so we just valeted my car. Mom went it to the hotel to use the restroom and then next time I saw her she was limping out the front door. Um, what? She told me she twisted her ankles (that's right both of them, I don't even know how that's possible) coming down the stairs. We waited a few minutes to see if she would be alright to go on the walking tour or if we would have to scrap it. She walked a little bit and we all decided it would be best to skip the walking tour and head to the rooftop terrace of our hotel and get some ice on her ankle.

Judy (Mom) icing her ankle...
View of the Cooper River from our Hotel, The Harbour View Inn
Cooper River Bridge (view from the terrace of our hotel)

After relaxing for a little bit, getting checked into our room and getting Mom loaded up on ibuprofen we headed out to start exploring Charleston.
Shops outside of our hotel.

Since Mom and Dana's flight was late they hadn't gotten a chance to eat lunch so we headed towards Gaulart and Malicet aka G and M aka Fast and French. Of course there was a ton to see on our way, beautiful churches, old buildings....It was so nice to have time to stop and take photos and not be rushed! I could play with the settings on my camera and see what worked the best for the photos.

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Our late lunch at G&M was perfect. It's a small place, so I can see why the wait is long for prime meal times. The food is very French, but there are still options for everyone. I'll be doing a restaurant review in a few days, so I'll fill you in then!

We finished our late lunch close to 5pm, but had to decide what to do for dinner. We had dinner reservations for Saturday night, but not Friday night. With there being so many people in town we didn't want to have to wait forever for dinner. After walking around a bit more and heading to the Waterfront Park outside of our hotel we decided to go out to Five Loaves Cafe. It wasn't in walking distance, but it looked like there was a free trolley that would take us pretty close.

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We were right, but it took a while to wait for the trolley to take us to the vicinity of the restaurant. We almost decided to go up to the bar up the street from our hotel and eat there. Even though we had a late afternoon snack Dana and I were still starving. As we were waiting for the trolley my Mom tells Dana and I that was the hardest thing about traveling with us when we were younger. That we had to eat all the time! You see, my Mom would be just fine with eating a pastry or some other random sweet food or drink and be fine. Dana and I prefer a real meal. I'm pretty sure we aren't the strange ones here...So, we finally made it to Five Loaves Cafe and had to wait about 10 minutes. Again, I am writing separate restaurant reviews, but we all liked this place as well. It's out of the way, but worth the trip.

After dinner we were spent, we took a cab back to the hotel. Got our milk and cookies, that's right our hotel had complimentary milk and cookies starting at 8:30pm every night. We enjoyed our cookies and discussed what time to have our breakfast delivered (wanted earlier because I'm pregnant and starving when I wake up, I was thinking a head though and brought cereal and milk so I could eat first thing. Oh, you didn't know I was pregnant, sorry, that's a whole different post, Surprise! (it was for us too). Dana wanted to be up and showered before the breakfast was delivered. What? That's crazy to me, who cares what you look like when the room service person shows up with your food as long as you have clothes on? Anyway, we decided that between 8 and 8:30am would be acceptable.

Saturday morning we did sleep in until breakfast arrived around 8am. After breakfast we finished getting ready and headed out to explore the city. Our destination was Battery Park. Along the way we admired the old homes, flower gardens and architecture.

I'm pretty sure this guy is mooning everyone on purpose!
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After our walking tour to Battery Park (narrated by Dana) we headed back towards downtown for our lunch reservation at Husk Restaurant. Husk Restaurant was name the best new restaurant in America in 2011 by Bon Appitet magazine. We did have a great lunch (although I have one complaint...). Review is coming!!


We had a long lunch, almost 2 hours and I was about asleep after that, but Mom and Dana pushed me on. We walked over to the open air market and culinary store to see if there was anything we needed. I found some local bloody mary mix and rim spices for Dave and Aunt Dana bought Dylan a Del Sol shark shirt at the market.

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Throughout our trip we saw horse drawn carriages giving tours. I had mentioned a few times when I was tired that it might be nice to go on a carriage ride to see more of the city. We decided to stop by the carriage stand since it was right by the market to see what it would cost. If we went on a group tour we would have had to wait over an hour, but we could go on a private tour right now. Dana and I were ready to walk away, but Mom said she would take care of it and wanted to go. It turned out to be great. Our guide was excellent and our horse, Kevin was 20 hands tall, the largest horse in their fleet. Of course, my Mom was asking questions about how the horses are treated, do they get to leave the city, etc. Our guide told us that the horses work for a week, but no more than 3 or 4 tours a day (I think) and then go out to a farm for a few weeks before coming back and doing tours again. It didn't sound like too bad of a life to me. We learned quite a bit about Charleston and the region on our tour and saw some parts of the city we hadn't seen before too.

After our tour we headed back to the hotel. It had started to rain and we were hoping to make it back for the wine and cheese reception! Yes my friends, our hotel had a free wine and cheese reception every afternoon. I didn't partake in any wine, but I heard it was good. The cheese was standard cheddar and jack and pepper jack along with a creamy cheese. But it was still good to have a cheese, fruit and crackers snack!

We decided to drive to our dinner restaurant, Lana. It was in the same vicinity as Five Loaves Cafe, which turned out to be quite a walk from the trolley stop. It look a little while to find our parking spot, but other than that we had a great evening. Lana Restaurant review to come! Of course, after dinner we headed back to the hotel for cookies and milk :)

Sunday morning was pretty much the same as Saturday, sleeping in, eating a lazy breakfast. But since it was our last day in Charleston we weren't quite sure what to do. We decided to take a drive out to the most popular plantations and see what we could see. I wanted to get on the road around Noon to start my drive back to Knoxville and drop my Mom and Dana off at the airport.

Fountain at waterfront park, in front of our hotel.
It took us about 25 minutes to get to the plantations, which are conveniently all on the same road. We couldn't see a lot, but did get out at Middleton Plantation. It's supposed to be the best one. What was nice about it was that they had a cafe, museum store and a few other things you could access without having to take the plantation tour. After a quick look around we headed back to Charleston so I could drop Dana and Mom off at the airport.

All in all it was a great trip. We had wonderful food, explored the city and got to spend some time together, which doesn't get to happen very often. I would certainly recommend a visit to Charleston to anyone!

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