Timeline: August 15-18
We returned to the hotel, making a brief stop at the Starbucks there for an afternoon pick me up, then retrieved the car from and made our way over to James Island to do a tour of the McLeod Plantation. You can read more about this interesting stop in my blog post from last year, https://3jmann.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/outer-banks-and-more-charleston-part-one/, which also includes a pretty good descriptions about our next two stops, Folly Beach and the Barrel. Our tour of the plantation this time was as good as the last, our guide animated and passionate about the subject matter, always a bonus when taking tours.
Arriving at Folly Beach, we parked a block or so from the ocean and walked out onto the fishing pier. A number of individuals were fishing, some with better luck than others, and the shoreline was crowded with people playing in the surf. We drove back towards Charleston and stopped at The Barrel to enjoy a couple of beers apiece; their selection still excellent. Unfortunately, the Digeridoo playing bartender wasn’t on duty and it was unlikely we’d return the next day when he would be working in order to introduce him to Jessica and Kris.
We spent enough time at The Barrel to allow us to drive straight to the Hominy Grill, where we had dined so well last year. We decided to split just one appetizer, the Picnic Sampler with pimento cheese, shaved country ham, pickled eggs, okra pickles and garlic toasts. I’m not a big fan of deviled eggs (it goes back to a flu bug I had as a child one Easter, don’t ask about the consequences of eating hard boiled eggs at that tender age) but am beginning to acquire a taste for them. These pickled eggs were a delicious variation.
Among the entrees ordered were the Chicken Country Captain, a sautéed chicken breast smothered in a tomato curry sauce with currants and toasted almonds over jasmine rice and the Charleston Nasty Biscuit with fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy. The biscuit was everything one could hope for given its description. Curiously, I found the Chicken Country Captain not to my liking, unusual given all good all of the food here is. We’ll just have to return another day and try some more options on the menu.
Tired from a long day, we returned to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening doing what most of America, nay the world, was doing at that time which was watching the Summer Olympics from Rio. Women’s Gymnastics were just finishing up and given Kris’ history playing volleyball, quite a bit of that got watched a well. We’d have to be up fairly early the next day to take our walking tour on its scheduled day and time, a challenge we were all up to.
We breakfasted in the room the next day and then set out for the start of the tour. Our guide Amy had loads of personality, so much that our group was split on whether they enjoyed her delivery or felt that it detracted from the experience. None-the-less, it was a good two plus hour detailed exploration of the historic part of Charleston. For more detail, I again refer you to my blog posts from last year which cover much of the same ground.
After the tour we stopped to get cold drinks at Kaminsky’s Dessert Café (it will come as a shock to many that we only hydrated and did not eat any dessert), then walked a couple of blocks east to finish the afternoon at the Old Slave Mart. Built in 1859 it is considered the last surviving slave auction gallery in South Carolina. It was used briefly before the Civil War ended all slavery, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1875 for its role in Charleston’s African-American history and today it houses the Old Slave Mart Museum. We didn’t quite give the museum the attention it deserved as we were all running on fumes after the morning tour. But it is a fascinating and complete look at slavery as an institution, its history, and its ramifications for America.
Post visit we meandered back up King to the hotel, each person splitting off to stop at a shopping destination noticed earlier in the visit. We relaxed in the room afterwards (more Olympics again) and then towards dusk set out for the Grand Bohemian Hotel on Meeting to check out their rooftop bar. It was a beautiful evening for sitting on the roof, the humidity creating a liquid sensation, bathing one in a comfortable warmth that invited languid behavior.
We stayed for a couple of rounds of inventive cocktails, and feeling full after having munched in the room, split a unique take on Pimento Cheese, warm this time around. It was the perfect way to end our stay in Charleston, a beautiful night surrounding us, light eating and delicious drinks. Oh, and more Olympics back in the room of course.
Up in good time the next morning, we departed the hotel and made one stop on the way home, at Magnolia Plantation. It is located on Ashley River Road, home to three of Charleston’s better known plantations, including Drayton Hall which we visited last year (see my blog post – https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.wordpress.com/2555 for more information about it).
Magnolia is more famous for its gardens than the house as we would discover while on the tour. The reason is that during Sherman’s march through the south at the end of the Civil War, he ordered that most plantation houses be burned to the ground. Only three were spared on Ashley River Road, Drayton Hall being one of them. Magnolia was not so lucky. But the gardens survived.
Magnolia became known for its gardens after the Reverend John Grimke-Drayton inherited the property in the 1840s and developed them. Many parts are more than 325 years old, making them the oldest unrestored gardens in America. In order to bring money into the estate after the devastating financial effects of the War, he sold half of the property surrounding the house and opened the gardens to the public in the 1872, a revolutionary concept at the time.
The house, while old, is not as historic or as impressive as many others, so after our short guided tour we walked the gardens, including the famous Long White Bridge which has been used as the back drop in a number of ads, and returned to the car for the ride home. It was a delight to have been able to introduce Jessica and Kris to Charleston, and for Joanna and I, this being our third visit we came away knowing that the charm of this place is infectious. With lots of history to view, a plethora of good places to eat and drink, it is truly a city you can return to time and again.
McLeod Plantation: https://ccprc.com/1447/McLeod-Plantation-Historic-Site
The Barrel: http://thebarrelcharleston.com/
Hominy Grill: http://hominygrill.com/
Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe: http://www.kaminskys.com/home
Old Slave Mart: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Slave_Mart
The Grand Bohemian: http://www.grandbohemiancharleston.com/
Magnolia Plantation: http://www.magnoliaplantation.com/