Monday, April 10, 2017

Charleston, SC | Part I

March 13-15, 2017

I unexpectedly got a week off work - a perk of working in an office where all the other interns have the same spring break and your supervisor gives you the week off by extension - and not wanting to waste it, tried planning a short trip. I initially planned to go up to DC for a few days as my visit in January was very brief. Upon hearing my plans, my dad asked if instead of a solo trip I'd be willing to travel with my mom, and after looking up the weather forecast for the week we decided to instead go south to Charleston. The planning process was incredibly brief: at 8:30am we decided we would go to Charleston and by 11am we were packed and on the road with a hotel reserved.

It takes just over four hours to reach Charleston from our house, and it rained intermittently the whole drive and stayed cloudy the whole evening. Undeterred by the weather, we drove into the French Quarter and walked through Rainbow Row - a street known for its colorful homes - and the Battery park area before finding dinner on Broad Street, where we were served by a waiter who had previously been the barman at a tavern only two miles from our house.

The next day was our only full day, and we packed everything possible into the daylight hours. We walked through Charleston's City Market and surrounding streets before settling in for a break at City Lights Coffee, a place I found through a friend who had visited the week before. It was crammed and charming and made for excellent people watching. We spent the rest of the morning wandering the streets of the historic areas, popping in and out of churches and gawking at the beautiful old houses - of particular note was the only Huguenot church in North America and the second oldest library still in circulation.

We spent the bulk of the afternoon at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, as a Charleston native had warned us that the city was expecting an overnight freeze and the flowers might wilt the next day. In the evening we made our way back to Charleston's downtown area, King Street (vastly overrated), for dinner and a stop at Blue Bicycle Books, an independent bookstore I'd heard loads about. The selection at Blue Bicycle is small but I did manage to pick up a copy of Shakespeare's Cymbeline that was published in 1908.

The next day we stopped at the South Carolina Aquarium where we were met by another RDU native who now volunteers at the aquarium. The aquarium is quite small but the gift shop sold some unique environmentally friendly items that I'd never seen before, including a biodegradable metal water bottle, purses made of recycled sails, and pillows sewn from recycled clothing.

For being such a short-planned trip, we packed a lot in. Charleston lends itself to lots of wandering, as every street in the old districts is full of beautiful old buildings, and we found it surprisingly easy to find parking everywhere. Having never been before, I was surprised at just how lovely a city it is, and I would gladly return in a heartbeat.
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