Monday, March 11, 2013

Getting the Carriage View of Charleston SC

The race completed in Columbia, and tummy full of good BBQ rounded out with some excellent collard greens and banana pudding, After lunch with friends at Farm Boys BBQ, I headed back to my hotel in Columbia for my last evening in that city, and then packed up and left the next morning for Charleston SC.

130 miles later, I arrived in the outskirts of the Charleston area and got off the interstate to find the Publix grocery store I'd scouted on Google maps.  It was a nice, new store and I picked up some fresh fruit, cereal, some smoked salmon, whole wheat crackers, red potatoes, a nice small steak, two bottles of wine, seafood salad then got back on the road and headed into Charleston proper.

Soon the exit ramp dumped me onto Meeting Street, at first a four lane road but soon narrowing down to two grid-locked lanes.  Cars trying to turn left, buses blocking the lane at their posted stops, pedestrians wandering into the roadway.  Traffic was at a standstill.  Eventually I figured out that I could cut over to Bay Street and get away from the heavy tourist area.  This was much better!  Soon I was at the Church Street Inn at the Corner of Church and Market Streets.

The staff here are so friendly and accomodating!  I had arrived before my time-share unit was ready, so we unloaded my luggage and my car was wisked away to be parked.  It was about 2:00 PM and I hadn't eaten yet, so I walked down the street a half block and found Tommy Condon's Irish Pub where they were serving Sunday brunch.   I had a Mimosa and Charleston Eggs Benedict, two poached eggs atop crabcakes with hollandaise sauce.  I was just finishing up and paying the check when my cellphone rang and it was the Inn, letting me know my unit was ready.

Did I say how friendly and great the staff are at this resort?  They had moved my luggage into my unit, placing the groceries into the kitchen, my bags in the bedroom, and miscellaneous items into the living room.  I'm impressed!!

My unit at this Festiva-managed time-share resort - Church Street Inn - is wonderful!  It's in an old red-brick building in the very historic marketplace area of Charleston and the interior furnishings/decor suit the area and building very well.

Bedroom and full bath upstairs; living
and dining areas, kitchen, and half bath downstairs.

Very nicely furnished living area.

my fully equipped kitchen

View of the lobby from the staircase

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading through some literature and pamphlets and getting oriented to the city so that I could plan out my days a little bit.

I slept like a log that first night and woke up late Monday morning, the bed was so comfortable!  I was feeling a bit sluggish and, having been bothered with burning, dry eyes the past couple of days in Columbia, awoke with sore, red, puffy eyes.  I carry some Tobrex eye ointment with me always, since I'm prone to allergy-induced conjunctivitis.   I got showered and dressed, applied this ointment and then headed out for lunch.  Some fantastic steamed mussels at A.W.Shuck's really hit the spot!

After lunch I walked over to the Palmetto Carriage Tours red barn, right behind the Marketplace, and bought a ticket for a 30 minute tour of the historic Charleston area.  I had a 30 minute wait before the next tour, so walked through the marketplace buildings to browse the vendors.

Soon it was close to 1:30 PM, the departure time for the tour.  It is literally housed in a big red barn, complete with chickens, goats, and stalls filled with horses and mules relaxing on their days off.  It was interesting to see how the city manages all of these carriage tours.  Once loaded, we turned out onto Market Street and got into a queue of other carriages at a tiny little guard-house type structure.  Here, the carriage masters were assigned one of three possible routes by using a colored pingpong ball.  This is done to control congestion and keep traffic flowing on the very narrow streets, which makes perfect sense to me, considering how much traffic I experienced trying to get into the city on Sunday. 

So route assigned, we headed out...and I'm very pleased with the route we were given.  we headed south on Church Street then turned left onto Broad to Bay Street then continued south.  It's exactly how I'd hoped we'd go.  The tour guide is a history teacher and therefore was chock-full of detail about the city's history.  Almost too much's was ovewhelming!  But we saw lots of beautiful homes and the running route I'd tentatively planned out for myself the next morning was confirmed!!

We were back to the barn too soon!!  I wanted more!  But I had a good sense of what mattered in the town and was given some very valuable and interesting historic perspective, as well. 

Tomorrow morning, I'll get a morning run in, retracing parts of the carriage route and then head back out later in the day with the camera.

1 comment:

  1. The time share is so cute.

    Getting stuck in traffic doesn't sound like fun, but it looks so worth it.

    I have always wanted to visit South Carolina. Such a history and the buildings are so much older than what we see here since the west was settled so much later.

    My mom was born in Greenville, SC, so one day maybe I'l get back over that way to check things out.