Charleston Place reminds me of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, and is part of the Orient Express network, so you know it is nice. It sits right downtown between Meeting Street and King Street next to the city market, so everything is within easy walking distance. I didn't move my car out of the garage until we were ready to go to the ship.
To start our trip out right, we went for celebratory (and expensive) drinks at the Pavilion Bar, which is on the top of a building and provides nice views of the city. I had a cucumber martini and Maggie had a pineapple one. We enjoyed reconnecting in such a delightful city. After lingering over our drinks, we walked up to the Amen Street Restaurant for shrimp and grits--a Charleston specialty. The salad we split was delicious--filled with some of my favorites such as blue cheese, cranberries, and nuts. We were both tired, so were back at the hotel before 9:30 and asleep soon after in our elegant hotel room.
The next day, we ate a light breakfast before walking to the tourist bureau. We started our "day in Charleston" with the Gray Line 1.5 hour air-conditioned bus tour. The day was much hotter than the day before, and we were glad we opted for the bus rather than a walking or carriage tour. My friend had done a Gullah tour the day before I got there, and she said the Gray Line was a good supplement/contrast to it. After the informative bus tour, we walked to the one major historical house in Charleston that has been preserved, but not restored. It's the Aiken-Rhett house near the visitor's center. It was interesting, and we had audio head sets to point out features of the house and outbuildings. After the tour, we ate a sandwich nearby and walked back towards the downtown area, where we toured two more homes that had both been restored, the Nathaniel Russell House and the Edmundson-Alston House. We were both glad we had done the Aiken house first, because it showed just how much effort and money it took to restore one of these old homes.
We went to an old church that had been transformed into the Mad River Bar & Grill for happy hour - you can't beat $4 martinis. We both tried the purple grapefruit martini with vodka, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, and blue curacao. Very nice! We had reservations for the 9:30 pm "Ghost and Graveyards" walking tour, so we ate a late dinner outside at Pearlz, a cute restaurant on East Bay. We split a fried shrimp appetizer, followed by a salad and a crab meat/spinach pizza. We walked back to the hotel for a while before going to the tour, which started near the market. Our guide was "Hoon Calhoun" and he was quite an actor. We didn't walk much, but he was a great storyteller. The evening was very hot and muggy, and standing for long periods was tiring, but it was an interesting evening. We were back at the hotel by midnight.
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