After a sad goodbye to New York it was time embark on the next adventure
The next month will be spent travelling around the U.S.
First stop, Charleston
But first things first, a 14 hour Chinatown bus – which ended up being nearer to 16, after getting moved on to a van that stank of piss and weed, this is the kind of shit dreams are made of (or just weird and wonderful stories)!?
There will be a lot more stories like this when a large percentage of our trip is made up of buses – at least the first half
We booked an AirBnB in Mount Pleasant, which was very nice and the owner was away in India so we got a space to ourselves, pretty nice after a year of sharing with four other people!
Later we heard a story about Mark Twain’s opinion of the area: “Mount Pleasant, it was neither”
When we got into Charleston we instantly felt the southern hospitality, we were definitely no longer in New York
First indication: Everyone says “y’all” all the time – I mean, all the time
Quick lunch at Graze in Mount Pleasant – pulled pork and collard greens mac and cheese!
Then into the city to explore, with a little financial assistance from the driver who gave us a free ride and said her friend would give us a discount on a tour!
Britishness looked like it was already doing us more favours that New York even did
We took a wander around the main area, exploring the market place that used to be operated by the slaves – not where slaves were sold, as Chinese whispers has changed the story to over the years
Then we opted to join a Carriage Tour
Bones was our tour guide and Jacob (the horse) was our impatient driver
The tour guides that do these are really good, they have to go through extensive training about the area before they are allowed to start working – our guide said that he has done two degrees and this was the hardest test he had to sit, he also pointed out that those degrees in Economics and Business really didn’t do a great deal in furthering his career in mucking out and riding horses or being a tour guide
We were taken around the city learning about the University, the houses, the heritage and the rules that are now in place to stop the old historic buildings from being ruined – if anything is over 75 years old, it can’t be touched
Once our brains were filled with Charleston know-how, the only thing to do was go for a beer
$2 mystery beer and some snacks at a steak house would do the trick!
Then a walk along the water front before heading for another drink and some barbecue at Jim and Nick’s
1lb of ribs with a cheese biscuit, mac and cheese, and brisket chilli
I had higher hopes for this, but still thoroughly enjoyed it!
Continuing with the theme of southern history it seemed only right to go to a plantation
But first, breakfast
Dixies Supply Bakery and Café came highly recommended by my boss, and it didn’t disappoint. A little hole in the wall with one person on the counter and a few chairs scattered around
I had the breakfast with scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries and a biscuit, while Jack went for the Croissant Vanilla French Toast
We had been recommended the sausage biscuit, but I was a big hungry for that
I noticed while we were eating, that Guy Fieri has been there! One for the bucket list! I am a big fan of “Diners, Drive ins and Dives” so this made me pretty happy – would definitely come under the ‘dives’ category
With a belly full of food, off to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
The gardens are incredible, and they stretch for miles, we had a good explore and then tried to see into the big house – or the guest house as the main one burnt down, many moons ago – you can get a ticket for a tour, but we were happy just to see the outside and the porch, and then we found a way to sneak into the slave houses while the tour had a discussion on the other side
The visit to the plantation fits the needs of everyone. There is the main garden to walk around which is a nice day out in the fresh air. There are tours to join if you are happy to spend a little more and are keen to learn about the history. There is a café to replenish energy at the end. And a petting zoo with some deer, pigs, bunny rabbits, peacocks, donkeys, that will keep everyone amused.
I was a little nervous when I saw a billy goat jump up on a wall. But clearly nobody else was too bothered when I overheard some great parenting, as a dad said to his son, “yeah, just stand in front of it, it should be O.K, he doesn’t look angry just now”. The kid didn’t look so convinced. Reminds me of my dad…
And then another guy that tried to get a selfie with it on his iPad while his girlfriend winced next to him
Back to explore some more of Charleston, before heading to Jestine’s Kitchen for some delicious fried chicken
This is famous in Charleston, especially famous for having a long line – we waited about 20 minutes – but oh my, was it worth it!
It is named after the cook in one of the rich family houses, when she passed at the age of 112, the family opened a restaurant and named it after her – if I can eat fried chicken and live to that age, then life will be wonderful
White and dark fried chicken, mac and cheese, and green beans – wasn’t wowed by the beans, a little too soft for me, but the rest I couldn’t fault, and a glass of sweet tea to wash it down!
And once again the British accent paid off and we got a free dinner!
I love Charleston!
We just had half a day left and thought we’d have a leisurely lunch and a wander before heading for our bus to Savannah
We were told that we had to try seafood before we went to our next stop and that Hyman’s was the best place to go. So we went along and picked a few appetisers to try out.
- Carolina Delight – fried grits, shrimp and Alfredo sauce, free with a Yelp check-in
- Devilled Crab – served in a crab shell
- Hush puppies – had rave reviews so we well it was only appropriate
- Fried green tomatoes – I kept seeing them on menus and was curious
Overall I wasn’t blown away by it, each bit was good but really we shouldn’t have gone for so many fried options, but hey, you live and learn
I really enjoyed the Carolina Delight, as it was less like grits that the other ones I’ve tried
A last minute panic over how we were getting to the bus station as Uber had a 3x price surge left us with the nice owner of the café we were having a juice in giving us a lift on his way to pick up a delivery
Lessons from Charleston:
- Everyone says y’all, hopefully I won’t come back saying it too
- Everyone speaks very slowly (one of the Uber drivers asked if they put tranquilisers in the water because she talks so much slower than when she used to live in New York)
- British accents will get you way further here than in New York – a free dinner and a free Uber, we now have a challenge for the rest of the trip!
- It’s hot here!
- Everyone loves their history, even though it’s a bit sordid