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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Charleston, SC - 5.29

  • Magnolia Plantation, House tour & River Boat
  • Drayton Hall
  • Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
  • Jestine’s Kitchen
  • Hank’s seafood restaurant

Before coming to Charleston, I had read that it was not necessary to rent a car if you stay in the city center.  My mistake was to assume that all the major sites were within the city center.  We quickly found out that we needed a car to visit all the plantations.  There were plantation day tours from the city, but the thought of going on a tour absolutely repelled me. 

So, first thing when we got up in the morning, H called Budget, the only car rental company in downtown that opened on Sunday.  The rate was more expensive than if we had picked it up from the airport, but I guess sometimes extra money had to be spent when we didn't do enough homework.

By 11 AM, I had purchased the combination tickets for Magnolia & Dryaton from the visitor's center, H had got the car from budget across the street, and we were on our way to Magnolia. Talk about efficiency!

The representative at the ticket counter in the visitor's center was a guy in his early 20's.  As I was asking him all sorts of questions mapping out our plantation trip, he was courteous, patient, and closing every other sentence with "Yes, Ma'am", "No problem, Ma'am"......  "Ma'am" is a funny word.  There is a condescending undertone to the women who is being addressed to, and an unexplainable authority to the person who says it whether such intention is there or not. I felt stupid and old when this young man was just being polite.

30 minutes later, we were at  Magnolia Plantation and Garden.  Magnolia was a big plantation and offered many tours for an additional charge.  We decided to take the additional house tour and nature boat.  It was a sizzling hot day.  The house was full of southern charm.  Unfortunately photography was not allowed.  The nature boat took us to a relaxing ride in the marsh.  We saw many birds and alligators along the boat ride.  After the tours, we took a stroll in the garden by the lake.

Next stop was Drayton Hall.  We chose to visit Drayton Hall because it was one of the oldest surviving plantations.  The house was kept very much as it was in its early years, and displayed unfurnished.  However, in retrospect, I would have probably picked Middleton Place over Dryaton Hall.

On the way back to Charleston, we decided to drive over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and checked out Sullivan's Island quickly. Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge was voted No. 1 out of 77 attractions in Charleston on Tripadvisor.  Naturally, I was curious.  While driving over the bridge, I must say that I was a bit puzzled.....  The bridge was nice to look at, but No. 1 Attraction?? I was not sure why.  Maybe other people saw something that I didn't see.  I did not get it.

After a quick drive to Sullivan Island, we headed back to Charleston.  We were starving.  Since Jestine's Kitchen was only a block away from our hotel, we decided to get something small to eat before dinner.  It seemed that there was always a line in front of Jestine's Kitchen no matter what time you went.  We ordered fried chicken with sides of Fried okra, corn bread with honey butter, and sweet tea.  I really enjoyed Jestine's Kitchen.  The restaurant was low-key and friendly.  The food was southern home cooking.  There were many other dishes on the menu that I would love to try.  

Before dinner, we walked over to the King's street and looked for bow ties for H.  H just recently started wearing bow ties to work.  Finding nice bow ties was quite a challenge in New York.  Stores carried only very few selections and even less nice ones.  We saw many beautiful bow ties in the men's store in Charleston.  After returning from the trip, H regretted that he did not buy more bow ties in Charleston. 

The dinner tonight was at Hank's, a seafood restaurant recommended by our waiter last night from Poogan's Porch.  The restaurant was in full swing when we arrived.

H ordered Low Country Bouillabaisse - a bowl of fish, clams, oysters, mussels, shrimp and scallops simmered in a light tomato, leek and garlic broth. And I had curried shrimp with white rice. It was a perfect contrast: H's seafood was fresh light and mine was full of flavor and heavy.  The Banana Cream pie was also really good.

I could not help but to compare Charleston to New Orleans, and felt that everything from food, clothing, to architecture just seemed more refined and proper in Charleston.

As we walked back to our hotel, a homeless/drunk guy passed by and said to me, "I like your blouse, young lady."  Now, it sounded much better being called young lady. And what can I say, even a homeless/drunk Charlestonian  has good taste!


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