Thursday, 19 February 2015

Charleston, SC

This weekend just gone we visited Charleston, South Carolina. We'd heard it was lovely, weather was around 18°C (as opposed to NYC's 5°C or below) and that's there the Birthday Boy wanted to go! Yes, big weekend, Edu turned 40! We headed down Thursday night and had a lovely long weekend there. Unfortunately the weather took a bit of a nose dive on the whole Eastern coast, but although it was cold it was still warmer than what we'd been use to and NYC hit -17°C while we were away! Just crazy. pretty happy we avoided that.
Charleston is a great long-weekend destination. Even more so in warmer weather. It's a beautifully preserved historical town, a manageable size for 3 or 4 days, the people are friendly, and the food is wonderful. We walked a lot and took it pretty easy; just so nice to be outdoors and in fresh air.
The food was really fab, but word to the wise; book ahead! On some great tips from friends we managed to get into a few great places. We loved The Macintosh for lunch; quite dark inside, but outside on the heated terrace it was lovely. Hominy Grill for dinner where the strangest things happened. We arrived and took our seat next to a table of younger couples in their mid-to-late 20's. They were just finishing up their meal. One of the guys at the table was playing with Oscar who was being his usual happy social self. The table left about 15 minutes after we arrived, and as they did so the young man who'd been interacting with Oscar put some money on our table and said 'Happy Valentine's!'. We were shocked and then saw he had left $40 on the table! Quite nuts. A lovely gesture, for which Edu and I are now on the look out for an opportunity to 'pay it forward'. 
Other places we liked were Magnolia's, which we managed to fluke a table last minute at – keep in mind all our dinners were at 5.30pm for Oscar, which amazingly was always with a packed restaurant. And my ultimate favourite pick was Fig. That meal was incredible. We couldn't book a table here, but they take 'walk-ins'. Which means you have to line up before opening time and hope you get a table. A lot of places have a few tables at the bar, or a shared community table, or veranda that is reserved for walk-ins. I sent Edu down at 4.30pm to line up for Fig. He was third in line and we did get a spot at the community table when doors opened at 5pm. Another nice place we had lunch is Fleet Landing. Apparently the best restaurant in town is Husk, but try as we might, we couldn't get a table, and due to the weather being so cold their walk-in veranda was closed. Next time. 
If you have kids I highly recommend the South Carolina Aquarium. We went on the coldest day we were there so Oscar so he could have a good run around. It was his first trip to an aquarium and he went MENTAL. Loved it. Squealed with delight, ran around like a madman, lots of 'Oh! Look!' and pointing. So happy we took him there. We also did a horse and buggy tour the last morning. The tour is an hour long and it's a bingo draw as to which route you take of the three possibilities. No, for real, they have bingo balls! This is to fairly distribute the carriages through the town. Again, Oscar was thrilled with this and the horse and he happily and patiently sat of Papa's lap for the whole hour looking at the houses and other horses and cars go by. Such a good little boy.
We didn't do much in the way of shopping, one store suckered us in though; Blue Bicycle Books – a used and rare bookshop. Edu picked up a few books, and I found three for Oscar; Babar (as he loves elephants), a book of verses and poems about the sea with lovely illustrations, and an amazing pop-up book version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for when he's a bit older. 
One things I haven't really mentioned is the incredible architecture. This theatre is lovely and there were some amazing houses. More on all of that in tomorrow!

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