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Charleston Travel Blog

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The first time I heard of Charleston, the mere existence of a town named so was during my Dallas days. One of my colleagues was originally from this town. TBH, I never liked him  (seemed too much of a narrow minded loud mouth opiniated bigot who thought he was God's gift to civilisation) and so my impression of the town was sadly, also not so positively coloured. Plus, from a commercial tourist point of view, it's not really  in the LV, LA or NYC bracket so I thought it's just any other ol' town where all people do is fish and pull up in their trucks and eat steak!

But over the years, and we're talking since 2003/04 (when I first head the name), I kept hearing more and more about it.

Building on my road - something I liked about this. It symbolised the town of Charleston - old colonial buildings
From all walks of life. Including folks I met through my various international travels. To a point where I realised that Charleston and San Diego are probably the only two cities I never heard anyone say anything remotely negative about! And we're talking a wide range of demographics here. I'd say since 2008, I really wanted to visit. 

I had the opportunity to visit twice - almost booked my tickets in 2013 on a business trip which got pulled last minute because of some stupid project deadline for which I had to be here. So I was delighted when I finally got to visit Atlanta and took a weekend detour to Charleston. 

My flight from Seattle to Charlotte got postponed, and then apparently there was something wrong with the aircraft so we had to change planes.

Boiled salted nuts as appetisers
But the flight was smooth - and eventually landed an hour late. I missed my connection but they'd already assigned us flights and I got on the next one an hour later. Funnily enough, the arsehole (who doesn't even work in my company anymore) was on this flight - talk about a small world! We chatted. The flight was so short they didn't even have F&B service. Flight landed within an hour - I was amazed at the military aircraft (which shares space with the commercial flights here). 

The airport is nice - fairly functional and quite bigger than I had thought it would be. The weather was cloudy but it was hot hot hot. I caught the rental car shuttle - the Alamo rental was nearly 4-5 miles away from the airport! Anyway they found me a car and I was off off off to my hostel about 2 milles away from Downtown.

Awful chocolate cake - vanilla bean icing was worse
The NotSo hostel (see review below) had given me instructions on access to the hostel should I show up before 5pm checkin time. So I made my way to the "lounge", and was checking up on office email for a few hours.

To my luck, one of the establishments Hominy's Grill was a block away. This place is famed for its grits and I'm told that patrons wait for nearly 2 hours on weekends! I absolutely loved it (and didn't have to wait). I noticed that people are very polite here, but either have short memory or don't understand what the phrase "no ice" means as I'd always get a glass of water loaded with ice! The grits were amazing but the dessert, a supposed chocolate cake with vanilla bean topping was awful.

Anyway, refuelled and stuff, headed back to the hostel - showered, checked in and was on my merry way to the Old Town.

My first taste of southern grits!
I have to say, just driving in to the hostel and now walking along King's Road, I was very impressed. The city has several post colonial buildings all elegantly preserved. To say it looks beautiful is kind of understating it - I was fairly cynical given all the hoopla of this city but it seems so well deserved. And all this, I could figure out in just 5 minutes on the street. I will say the only negative I'll give this town is the weather - hot and muggy and wow, didn't help that I was wearing rather thick jeans with an iPod, an iPhone and  a camera in the pockets. I was sweating up a storm and couldn't wait for dinner, if nothing else, because I'm in AC. Most shops are all independent, seems hard to find a chain here. And it was nice to see so many church spires around.
I visited this the next day (photos coming in that journal soon)
The town really is amazing! 

I made my way to the old market (was empty) and then along Meeting Street that's home to several acclaimed restaurants when  it started pouring.  Like, all of a sudden. thank God I had the sense to carry my raincoat with me. But even that wasn't enough - but thankfully I sought refuge at FIG, one of America's most highly rated restaurants. I had to wait for an hour+ outside (well, under their foyer) but didn't mind too much: I wouldn't have walked much anyway as it was bloody hot. So the break was good (and gave me a chance to check on some office emails as well). Dinner was brilliant (I got a bar seat) (read review below).

By now, it was no longer raining cats and dogs. But the weather felt so tropical and Carribbean. Thank  God the rain brought some cool weather so the walk back to the hostel (2miles) was a breeze. The roads were quiet (I chose some back alleys) but felt very safe. I don't know if the houses here are deserted or not, but some of them look run down (not in a bad way, but in a "someone needs to maintain this" kind of way). However, it is safe. And overall I felt this place has a very European way of using buildings: so  many residential colonial houses  haven't been  brought down and new ones sprung up, but instead just reuse and  modernise the interiors. It seems to work very well here. 

First day in Charleston but I have to say, I was already falling in love!

Vikram says:
Vance - so true! Come to think of it, there was probably a reason for me missing my earlier flight so I could run into him. Funnily enough, I hated him when I worked with him (thought he was an arrogant SOB) but was pleasantly amused and happy running into him after all these years.
Posted on: Oct 22, 2016
vances says:
I love how you encountered your Charleston connection on the flight from CLT - they say the biggest coincidence would be if there were no coincidences...

Posted on: Oct 20, 2016
Vikram says:
LOL @ Hot vik!!
Posted on: Oct 20, 2016
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Building on my road - something I …
Building on my road - something I…
Boiled salted nuts as appetisers
Boiled salted nuts as appetisers
Awful chocolate cake - vanilla bea…
Awful chocolate cake - vanilla be…
My first taste of southern grits!
My first taste of southern grits!
I visited this the next day (photo…
I visited this the next day (phot…
Charleston Hostels review
The only hostel in the Carolinas, and it's GRAND!
I was surprised to learn that there aren't many hostels in the Carolinas considering tourism is on the increase. But turns out the only one is in perh… read entire review
Charleston Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Charleston's royalty, but be prepared to wait for an hour!
I have to say, the hype does justice. One of the town's, rather, the country's most famous restaurants, this isn't named after the exotic namesake. Bu… read entire review
photo by: denisx