Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back from Charleston

That's it for air travel for the year--woo! I'm glad to be home for a few months. But, we had a fun time:

We flew on Tuesday the 6th, Election Day, which actually turned out to be a good distraction from that event in many ways. We didn't fly together--for some reason my award miles didn't allow me to book his flight on the same planes as mine, which worked out well for him on the trip east. He went first class! On award miles! That never happens to me. Ah well. As a consolation, I ran into longtime friend and Mom's neighbor Mary on the plane! It was such a funny coincidence.

I arrived first and took a cab from the airport directly to a reception that was happening before the main event. It made for a long day, but it was good to get some of the prep out of the way. Our hotel was nice and had a great view, but it was a bit out of the main sightseeing area--all those librarians in town for the conference made it hard to book a room.

On Wednesday I attended my work event, which went well, while M took a ship to Ft. Sumter. After the conference ended in the afternoon, I took the free trolley, which served us fairly well during the visit, back to the hotel to rest up a bit. In the evening we took in Ignite, planned as part of the conference, which was a lot of fun. Though I'm sad to say that my age is making it harder to enjoy loud music. After yelling with a few other attendees, we called it a night.

On Thursday, we spent time sightseeing along the Museum Mile, taking in the Aiken-Rhett house, an unrestored mansion that illustrated the layers of history in its disrepair, the Charleston Museum, and the Powder Magazine, which apparently still has the sand stored in the roof that its builders thought would help dampen an inadvertent explosion.

That evening we dined very well at High Cotton, a recommendation we got from a local at the Ignite event. I had fried green tomatoes in my salad, delightful. We had dessert atop Market Pavilion, taking in lovely if chilly views of the city.

On Friday, we had breakfast at a fine local establishment, then took the trolley down to the end of the peninsula where Charleston began. We walked through the battery area, then toured the Edmondston-Alston House, which was much as it was when it was built, and the Gibbes Museum of Art. We spent some time on Market Street, which is still a market, now for us tourists. I bought some boiled peanuts, which I'm now describing as Southern edamame.

We really enjoyed the architecture, particularly the historic "singles" with the "piazzas"--houses one room wide, oriented with the narrow end to the street, what I would think of as the side, and long porches running the length of the house facing the side yard. It was interesting seeing how the buildings transitioned, and the different neighborhoods.

On our final evening, we walked the streets on the Dark Side of Charleston tour where we learned about some of the more unsavory history of the city, and then went to the bar at Husk, considered one of the best restaurants in the country. M did proclaim his cheeseburger the best he's ever had. I had a fine cheese plate, and my first encounter with both fried pickles and milk stout. It worked out well that we didn't get into the main restaurant since they serve very few meat-free dishes.

We often thought what a pleasant place to visit, a place we probably never would have chosen if I didn't have a work trip. I think the only thing it lacked was easily obtainable good coffee. It was a bit chillier than I was expecting, and had to layer shirts and sweaters in a very unfashionable way most days. It was also interesting being out of the progressive blue bubble that is northern California, especially during the presidential election. We overheard some pretty interesting conversations! The only unfortunate part of the trip came at the very end. We flew home together only to Houston then parted ways. My flight came in on time, but M missed not one but two connections, so arrived SFO seven hours late. Yes, I waited, amusing myself by catching up on work, knitting, and wandering around the terminals. We have resolved to think outside our usual vacation comfort zone when planning our next trip.

More pix on Flickr.


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