Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From the Land of Ma'am: Checking out Charleston

My adventures of exploring the south continued last weekend with a trip to Charleston.  Last year some runners from my Minneapolis running club decided to run the Charleston marathon.  Since Charleston is only 3 hours from Charlotte, I decided to meet up with them for some sight-seeing and spectating.

I had heard nothing but great things about Charleston and it did not disappoint.  It is a very charming southern city with so much history and character - and good food!  We lucked out and were there during restaurant week so ate at some great places at a reasonable price!

I will say that I did a horrible job of taking photos on this trip...  I have no excuse, I just did not pull out my phone very often!  But I did take a few photos that are worth sharing!  Here is a recap of what we did!

On Thursday, I had a big client meeting in the area so headed into Charleston after the meeting and arrived mid-afternoon.  We walked down to King Street which is one of the main thoroughfares of Charleston.  After spending most of the day in a car/in a lunch meeting, it felt great to stretch my legs and get some fresh air.

On Friday, we headed into downtown Charleston, checked out the Battery area (which has lots of beautiful, historic homes), walked along the Ashley River, and saw the Cooper River Bridge from afar.

There is a museum on slavery as Charleston was a huge hub for slavery, so we checked out that museum next.  The museum was very interesting and is something I'd recommend to others visiting the area.  After lunch, we took a 2 hour tour of Charleston. I was hoping to do a Carriage tour but no one else was interested in that and it was a bit cool so I will have to save that for another trip.  Instead, we took a tour in a small tour bus, which was very informative.  He drove us through the various areas of Charleston and explained the history of different areas of the city - and provided color on how much properties in the Battery sold for (as much as $6 million!!!). The tour ended with a tour of one of the historical homes in the Battery.  I totally regret not taking pictures of the homes in the Battery!

Saturday was the marathon so that pretty much took up most of the day.  I had 2 friends running it and had some company while spectating as the wife of one friend and the aunt of another came along for the weekend.  We had a really hard time getting around with all the road closures but managed to see our runners at miles 18, 22, and the finish. The weather on race day was not great.  It was pretty cool and very windy, and the course honestly looked pretty ugly so I was actually not sad that I wasn't running it...  But they both ran great races and recovered well.

After the marathon, we had a late brunch at a cute Southern cafe and then relaxed until our dinner reservations at a seafood place along the water.

On Sunday, we headed out to a plantation outside of Charleston.  There are several to choose from but we went to a smaller one called Drayton Hall.  I would love to see Magnolia plantation some time, but would rather see it in the spring when the flowers are in bloom, so hopefully I will get back to Charleston in March or April.

We took a guided tour of the home which was really interesting.  This plantation was purely for the entertainment of guests and was built around 1750.  The guide did a really good job of explaining the architecture of the home and the way it was used by the Drayton family.

I will say it's a little weird to be touring a plantation because it is just such a sad, shameful time in the history of our country since the plantations were ran by slaves.  So while I can appreciate the beauty of the home and setting, I had an unsettled feeling while touring it.

After the tour, we walked around the grounds, which were beautiful.  I love the old trees with spanish moss!

After the tour, we headed back to downtown Charleston, had a light/late lunch, and did some shopping before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. 

On Monday I hit the road around 9 am so I could have most of the day in Charlotte to prepare for the week ahead.  All in all it was a great weekend and I really hope I can fit a trip back there in March or April as I'd love to visit it during a warmer time of year.  The weather was ok, but some of the days were definitely chilly!

Have you been to Charleston?  It's definitely a place I would recommend visiting as it such a cute, charming southern city.


Lisa-Marie said...

Your photos are beautiful.

The plantation thing is interesting - I think anyone with any morals/sense of humanity would find the history unsettling. I went to Auschwitz when in Poland, and still haven't fully processed it.

Jeanie said...

I'd say your photos are pretty terrific, especially given that it was your phone! The plantation, in particular, is a fabulous photo. I'm interested in that although I think the reality of it would be a bit sobering. Still, it's something I would love to do. Sounds like such a good time -- I'm so glad you had fun!

Becky said...

Okay so considering you didn't take many photos, the ones you took are fabulous!

I have never been to Charleston but we have friends moving there at the end of the month and I am hoping we can visit them this fall! (I refuse to go in the summer!) Glad you had such a great time!

Marlys said...

Oh, the charm of the south! I loved the pictures you took, and it sure doesn't look cold to me! But I know it is winter there, too. I would love to tour that area someday. Glad you had such a great visit with old friends from the north! I'm sure they thought the weather was pretty darn good! We had a mini blizzard yesterday again, and another expected tomorrow with bitter wind chills! UGH!

Caroline said...

I'd love to go to Charleston someday! Sounds like a great weekend!

Abby said...

It looks beautiful there - I bet it is so picturesque in the spring with magnolias in bloom.

I agree that there had to have been some unsettling feelings as you toured these plantations.

Sounds like a fun weekend getaway! Too bad it was an ugly course! You'd think there could be gorgeous countryside to incorporate? What do I know, though. Lol.

Leigh said...

Charleston has been on my list of want to visit places for a long time. It just looks so pretty and southern and your pictures confirmed it! Glad you had a great weekend :)

Amber said...

Sounds like a great weekend! I'm glad you're getting out and visiting some cute and charming southern cities while living down there. I think touring a plantation would be super interesting but I can totally see how/why you would have such an unsettling feeling while there.

Carolina John said...

Also downtown is the Slave Market, where they used to sell people. Now it's an open-air market full of artists & craftsman, a pretty cool place today with an incredibly uncomfortable history.

The Cooper River Bridge Run is a 10k the first weekend in April where you run from Mt Pleasant across the bridge and into downtown. At 40,000 participants it's one of the largest 10k's around. I've run the bridge before but never the race, I tend to avoid those huge ones. But if you want to come back on April 5th weekend, watch out for that or participate if you can.

My brother Michael lived just off of King St before getting married. Now they moved out to James Island, which is on the way out to Folly Beach. Charleston has the most expensive real estate prices in SC, and lots of the houses are old, historic, and beautiful. It's on par with Raleigh's RE prices. insane.

I'm so glad you had fun! Charleston is a wonderful place and with 5 colleges and a thriving young people population, it's a vibrant energetic place to visit or live. You got some great pictures too.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Sounds like you had a lovely weekend catching up with friends and exploring a new city.

I went to Charleston when I was in college and I was less than impressed. I think you touched on it a bit, but it's this idea that a city benefited from such deep connections to slavery ... it put a damper on my ability to care about it. Also, I think Savannah is prettier than Charleston, though I haven't been back to either city for many years.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

It does seem like a very charming city!! I haven't been there before :-)

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Looks like fun! I have a friend who lives near enough to the Cooper Street Bridge that she runs on it often. I've seen photos of it from her ha. And she's done that 10k race mentioned above! It's interesting seeing this/reading it because of books I've read int he last year that mention some of these places. I NEED TO GOOOO.

Cherry Blossoms said...

Def on my list of cities to visit! Love the spanish moss tree picture from the plantation grounds. There are lot of spanish moss trees in Florida where Chris's aunt lives and I just think the are so pretty. Can't wait to hear more about it. Glad you had a great weekend.

Stephany said...

I would love to visit Charleston someday! It seems like such a charming city. Your pictures are gorgeous!

I can understand that unsettling feeling while touring a plantation. I imagine I would feel the same way. It's a hard part of our history, for sure.

Glad you had a wonderful weekend!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Wow Lisa, those photos are stunning. I already wanted to go there but this makes me want to even more! I can definitely understand your unsettled feeling touring the plantation. I have had this feeling at a few different places over the years and sometimes it makes me sad just how many parts of history are so shameful (not just in the us of course)

Sue @ SimonsSistaSaw said...

So pretty. I'd love to see a plantation house and hear more about the history. I hope you make it back there - a few hours seems the perfect weekend trip distance to me.

Charis Faith said...

I have to say the one thing I've done there that I really really enjoy is a ghost tour. I find the stories fascinating!

I'm so glad you had the chance to visit this Southern city :)

Shoshanah said...

My parents went to Charleston when I was in high school and really loved it. I've yet to go, but would love to someday. I've had friends that say it reminds them of a cleaner New Orleans, which makes sense and actually makes me want to visit it even more!

San said...

I have not been to Charleston but it sure looks like a beautiful place to visit!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I have not been to Charleston, but it reminds me of New Orleans a bit. Maybe it's just the trees/plantations/moss combo. I am glad you had fun; I have always heard that Charleston is beautiful!