Thursday, May 6, 2010

Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC - Day 5

Monday morning we left Savannah and set off for Charleston, SC. I think it was about a 2-2.5 hour drive. When we got to Charleston, we stopped by the visitor's Center to load up on tourist information and then we checked in at our hotel.

We did not stay at a cozy B&B -- from the research we did, none of them seemed to be wheelchair accessible. So we stayed at Hampton Inn - Charleston. It's in the historic town area, but it's on the edge of that area so we had a bit of a walk to get to most of what we wanted to do. Definitely not as convenient as Avia in Savannah.

However, this Hampton Inn is in an old building - it's restored from an 1860 railroad warehouse - and the lobby has a southern comfy and welcoming vibe - it's charming. Plus, there's a great, huge 3 ring binder on a table in the lobby and the binder is filled with menus from many of Charleston's restaurants - we found the menu binder quite useful! And the usual Hampton Inn free breakfast in the lobby plus tea, coffee, and ice water all day long.

After lugging all our stuff in and freshening up, we set off in search of food. As we started walking, we noticed that the sidewalks seemed much worse (bumpier and more uneven) than in Savannah. Not fun for either of us. A 3-4 block walk seemed a lot longer. The first 2 restaurants we looked at didn't work out; Cru Cafe is not accessible and wasn't open (they're closed Mondays) while Anson is closed in the afternoons (but they do have a wheelchair accessible entrance in back).

Hunger makes you tired and snippy so we decided to turn around and try a placed we had already walked by: Hyman's Seafood, which is a bit of a touristy place.There were hostesses outside on the sidewalk who greeted us and seated us right away - it was around 2:30-3 pm, so they were not too busy. It's a cozy, wood paneled interior. Apparently, lots of celebrities have eaten at Hyman's since there are a lot of celebrity photos on the walls and on the tables are little plaques:I sat where Erma Bombeck sat. I read a lot of her books when I was in middle and high school and always found her amusing. We both ordered our usual iced tea - unsweetened - and SP got a SC beer. We had a coupon for a free crab dip, so we ordered that as well.Coupons for a free crab dip or bowl of potato soup at Hyman's are everywhere in Charleston - coupons printed on tourist maps, in brochures and guide books, in piles on tables, even online. Our server, Ashley, also brought us some complimentary boiled peanuts:I had never had boiled peanuts before. They're pretty darn tasty! They didn't taste too salty to me. The shells are so soft from the boiling - definitely a new texture for me since I've only ever had hard shelled peanuts. The shells are very easy to pop open and no shell bits flew around like when hard shells are cracked!

The crab dip was quite tasty. Our server had to bring us more crackers because we were devouring them and the dip so quickly!

The menu is huge!!! I had a very hard time deciding what to order. Our server was very helpful, full of suggestions, and he took some time to explain the fresh fish board to us.

Every day the board lists the fresh fish of the day. The are designated #1, #2, or #3, based on cost. You can pick a fish, choose a regular or large portion of the fish, and choose how you want it cooked: fried, broiled, cajun, light cajun, scampi, sautéed, jerk, dry broiled, or steamed.

After much deliberation and waffling about, I opted to try an appetizer scallop cake (mostly because SP expressed interest in the scallop cake):Very tasty. A delicious sauce, some fried onion straws - yum! I also ordered the appetizer portion of the shrimp and grits:The shrimp were good, but I'm not a huge fan of the regular brown gravy for grits, and I really, really wish I ordered them with the cheese and bacon. It was just a bit too bland and boring. I guess I prefer the more gourmet/foodie-ish shrimp & grits, like at Vic's in Savannah with the rosemary BBQ sauce.

SP ordered deviled crab. Deviled crab! I remember having this dish when I was very young. I don't remember where. But I had forgotten all about it, and then when I saw it on the menu I couldn't remember what deviled crab is, I had a complete blank on it, and I didn't bother asking, but I should have because I really enjoyed SP's deviled crab!!!Since he is a good husband, he traded a deviled crab for shrimp & grits to make me happy! Yum! He had some greens on the side, cole slaw, and hush puppies.

Our server was fantastic - he took a lot of time to chat with us and check on our food and if everything was OK but also said that if we'd arrived an hour earlier, the place had been so busy he wouldn't have been able to chat with us so much.

Every night when we would pass Hyman's on Meeting Street, there was a line of people (tourists) waiting for tables. It gets busy at peak meal times. And it is touristy. But it's also worth checking out. There's a Hyman's General Store a couple of doors down, filled with the usual General Store junk stuff but we did get me a $4 Hyman's t-shirt.

Next up: a carriage ride. Yes, another carriage ride. Carriage rides are a great way to see Savannah and Charleston and the carriage drivers have a lot of knowledge and local tidbits to share. Plus, when we were grabbing information at the Visitor's Center, I found a carriage ride tour that said they were handicap accessible. Yay!

So we found the big red barn for Palmetto Carriage Tours. Yes indeed there was a ramp up to a platform and ticket office. I still needed some help getting in, but this was much easier (safer?) than being carried up a ladder!

Palmetto uses mules. Ours were named Battery and Run. There are so many carriage tours in Charleston that the city has implemented a 'system' to help with carriage traffic. All the carriages depart from the same general area and must first stop at a little booth to give the booth attendant their name, company name, horse/mule names, and the number of people on the tour. The attendant pushes a button that releases a color coded ping pong ball, like a lottery machine & ball, to determine which route your carriage will take from that point down to the Battery and back. This is so that carriages aren't all bunched up in one area of town causing a massive traffic back up.

So we set off. This was so worth it to see all the beautiful buildings, a mix of Caribbean (house colors), English (Victorian style homes) , and French (all the beautiful wrought iron) styles. Like in Savannah, roads and homes have been built on top of graveyards without relocating the buried bodies, which is why there are so many stories in both cities of ghosts and haunted buildings. Some homes are painted blue since some believe blue would ward off ghosts (some just paint their foundations blue).

I had forgotten that Charleston lies on a fault line and experiences tremors and earthquakes. There was a significant earthquake in 1886 and some of the damage can still be seen, like these two homes that, as a result of the earthquake, lean towards each other, the tops of the homes nearly touching:Steel rods and bolts were placed into homes to repair cracks and damage, and some of the 'beautiful' bolts seen on the exteriors of homes are actually there to hold the home together!

There's also a lot of cute, little homes that used to be kitchens for the larger homes (given the heat and humidity in the summer, kitchens were not in the main houses).These little homes have address like 82 1/2 Red Street and we even saw one that was like 96 1/4 Green Street! (Street names made up).

Here's the City Market building:During our time in the south, we learned that women went up the right stairs and men up the left stairs because if a man saw a woman's leg or ankle, he had to propose. So to try to decrease the likelihood of seeing parts of a woman a man shouldn't see, buildings had these split staircase entrances.

Nowadays, the City Market building in an open air market, a place where vendors (artists, sweetgrass basket makers, etc.) can rent a table for $12 a day and sell their wares to the public.

After our carriage tour, we walked around a bit and got very, very frustrated with the horrible Charleston sidewalks. So went went to find Kaminsky's, recommended by EPAS.Kaminsky's is a dessert place. Unfortunately, there are 5 steps to get inside. SP went in to ask about a side/back entrance and they told him that the place next door, T Bonz Gill & Grill, was part of the same company and sold Kaminsky's desserts to their diners, so if we went next door, they'd bring us the Kaminsky's menu and we could sit in T Bonz for our dessert. Yay!

The people at both Kaminsky's and T Bonz were so friendly and helpful and nice. We settled in and I decided to try an Irish Coffee while SP ordered iced tea.A tasty Irish Coffee, definitely one of the better ones I've had, but I am still searching for one as good as the Buena Vista Irish Coffee!

SP got the Warm Berry Cobbler A La Mode:Oh my gosh this was fantastic! And huge! I had to help him finish it.

I chose the White Chocolate Mousse Pie:Mine was a bit smaller and lighter than his. It was good. Not too dense or rich or heavy so I didn't feel too full.

Then we wandered back to the hotel, got some hot tea in the lobby, and headed up to our room to get ready for bed.

1 comment:

  1. I have been "banking" all of your honeymoon posts! I loooove Charleston! My ideal city. I want to move there.