Author Topic: Charleston, SC  (Read 515 times)

Offline cgr

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Charleston, SC
« on: November 24, 2019, 02:02:09 PM »
Iím not that good at writing, so Iíll keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: Iím trying to visit every National Park in the USA. This was a trip in November 2019 that started off with Congaree National Park in SC. I spent 3 more days in the region visiting Charlotte, NC (1 day), and Charleston, SC (2 days).

Flights:
  • CLT to CHS on AA
  • Tickets were originally about $420, so I booked with BA for 7,500 Avios+$5.60. When the price dropped below $130, I cancelled the BA ticket, and booked it on Cheapoair, applying a $50 GC I had previously earned. (I would never book with them otherwise. Hateful company, horrible customer service, and they charge a booking fee).
  • CHS to LGA on Delta

Hotel:
  • Hyatt Place Charleston/ Historic District- 4/5
  • I chose this hotel for two reasons. #1, Iím working towards status via this promotion, and #2, because it is centrally located. I also got a great rate via their price match guarantee (not to mention the additional 5,000 points)
  • A few days before my stay, I emailed the manager requesting kosher breakfast. I was right away informed that theyíll have it ready for me, no problem. I was a bit worried, because I didnít ask to see the hechsher, but I knew that Charleston only has the KCC and Chabad certifying food here, so I figured it must be one of the two. Turns out the kosher breakfast trays are from DiningIn, certified by the KCC.
   
Method of Transport:
  • Uber
  • The city is very walkable. I only used Uber to and from the airport, as well as to some stuff I wanted to see farther out of town.
   
Food:
  • DiningIn- kosher breakfast provided by the hotel. The first morning the breakfast was fine, but by the second morning the salad had leaked into everything on the tray making it inedible. I ended up grabbing a bagel from King Street Cookies.
  • Hymanís- this is a treife seafood place that sells pre-packaged meals by Chabad. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty the food was.
  • King Street Cookies- heavenly cookies. They even have a list of non-dairy cookies for those of us who are makpid on CY. I stopped by their airport booth to stock up on some more cookies for my trip home!
  • Martyís Place-3/5- vegetarian restaurant located in the College of Charleston
   
Activities:
  • Middleton Place- 4/5
  • Beautiful plantation with informative tours of the different aspects of plantation life. The gardens here are modeled after Versailles, and are absolutely stunning (no, not Versailles stunning but still). I was the only visitor on all the tours I joined, but thatís probably normal for this time of year when the summer season is over, and the holiday season is just around the corner but not here yet.
  • I had a hard time deciding which of the plantations to visit, as each one is renowned for a different aspect. I pretty much chose this one on a whim. Definitely wasnít disappointed, but I have no comparison.
  • Entrance fees to these plantations can be pretty pricey. I always carry my student ID with me, and luckily the discount here was substantial!
  • Fort Sumter- 4/5
  • Thereís only one tour operator to the island, and they donít actually give you a tour. They ferry you over to the island and bring you back- thatís about it. I was on the last tour of the day, so the rangers lowered the flag accompanied by a speech and made a whole production of it. Iím not sure if they do any activities with the morning and midday tours. Itís pretty cool to stand in the place where the civil war started, but unfortunately, plenty of people I met on this trip seemed to feel that things were fine as they were. Almost everyone referred to it as the ďwar between the statesĒ, and I even heard the term ďthe War of Northern AggressionĒ once or twice.
  • Gray Line City Tour- 3/5
  • This tour passes through historic Charleston, so itís a great starter to help you figure out what you want to see and do. The guide was ok, but definitely not the best to be had on a city tour. After taking a bus tour in Charleston, I would probably recommend a carriage tour. This isnít a hop-on-hop-off (there arenít any in Charleston, as the city doesnít want the traffic that comes with it), so everything feels very removed. I ended up taking notes on the tour of streets that seemed interesting, and then spent an hour+ walking around to see them up close. Charleston is a beautiful town- it has a colonial charm, similar to that of Philadelphia and Boston, but at the same time has a Southern charm to it as well. I canít be certain, but I think a carriage tour wouldíve eliminated the need for all that extra walking since its open and you can get a better feel for the place. If I wouldíve had more time in Charleston, I definitely would have spent some more time walking the streets and absorbing the beauty of it.
  • Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon- 4/5
  • The museum itself deserves 1, maybe 2 stars. Thereís not much to see anywhere other than the dungeon, and if you donít have a tour, you wonít understand much of that either. But I did have a dungeon tour, and it was absolutely amazing. Thereís a lot of history connected to the building, and a lot of interesting stories about the dungeon. The tour guide knew a ton about the place, and even more than that, he had extensive knowledge about Charlestonís and South Carolinaís history. Really made me feel like he was into this place, and not just an intern who was forced to tell a story.
  • I purchased discounted combo tickets here that included entry to the Old Slave Mart Museum. I also used my student ID to get further discounts. (I did see that VerizonUp offers 50% off here under the Local Offers section, but it was cheaper for me to get the combo with Student ID).
  • Old Slave Mart Museum- 2/5
  • I was thoroughly disappointed here. The museum is located in the building where slaves were traded after Charleston banned the sale of slaves on street corners. There are no re-enactments or exhibits. The museum consists of 30 or so posters detailing facts of the slave trade. Makes you feel like someone printed a whole bunch of Wikipedia pagesÖ
  • Nathaniel Russel House- 4/5
  • This is a restored mansion from the early 19th century, that was owned by one of the richer Charlestonians. They offer tours twice a day, but that didnít fit my schedule so I ended up going with an audio tour. The basic tour is about 45 minutes, but they have lots of extras you can listen to. The cool thing about this house (other than it being beautiful) is that the restoration is ongoing. I was unable to visit two of the rooms in the house because of this, and many of the changes that I did see were fairly recent based on paint analysis and other tests they did to the house to see what it wouldíve looked like back in 1810. Another cool thing is the optical illusions used in the architecture. In some areas, they have moldings and plastered-looking crests that look 3D, but are actually painted, and in other places they have stuff that looks painted, but is actually 3D. There are also some interesting tidbits on social and family life. What I found particularly fascinating is that before their marriage, Nathaniel Russelís wife insisted on a prenup- something that was unheard of in that day and age.
  • I purchased a combo ticket here that included the Aiken-Rhett House.
  • The Confederate Museum- 3/5
  • This museum is located right on top of the Historic Charleston City Market. Itís rather small, and the whole place has this discombobulated feel to it, like thereís too much furniture for the space. The place is chock full of Confederate artifacts- I found a lot of it to be boring (bullets, canteens, boots, etc), but other sections were fascinating. They have confederate money, charters, bonds, and other docs- this is the first time I really internalized that for 4 years, there was actually a country on the map taking up about half of what was the US then.
  • Aiken-Rhett House- 4/5
  • Unlike the Nathaniel Russel house, this house was not restored, but preserved as found. Here too, the basic audio tour is 45 minutes, with lots of extras. This house went through many changes throughout the years, as gas was installed, and eventually electricity. Itís sort of a time capsule, where you can see the changes over the years. The tour here also gives you a really good understanding of how urban slaves lived, what laws they were subjected to, and the backbreaking tasks they were forced to perform.

Other Activities:
  • Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim- as with Savannah, I chose not to tour a Reform Synagogue. I stopped by for a few minutes just to see the exterior. Itís an impressive structure, but weirdly, the entrance faces the side alley, not the street.
  • Historic Charleston City Market
  • The Battery- mansions along the seafront- some of these go for 10MM+- here's one of my pics
  • Rainbow Row- a street with pastel painted colored houses- cool photo spot- here's one of my pics

I had a few more things on my list that I wouldíve liked to cover, one of them being the Charleston Museum. There are a few more plantations in the area as well, each of them renowned for a different aspect, and thereís also the only tea plantation in the US located about 30 minutes from Charleston. Ideally, had I had the time, I wouldíve tacked on another day or two to this trip, so that I could spend more time in Charleston. 2 days here was a bit rushed, so I think 3 or 4 would be ideal.

When researching this trip, I came across the Charleston Tour Pass. This is a city attraction pass that includes lots of museums, and even one or two plantations.  It didnít make sense for me to purchase one, as my student ID discounts were greater than that of the pass, but it would probably make sense for some of you travelling to Charleston to look into this.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2019, 02:06:18 PM by cgr »
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Offline ltttc

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Re: Charleston, SC
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2019, 02:54:16 PM »
Thanks for the trip report! (Planning on heading out there some time next yr)
Question: How do you get the email adrs of the hotel manager? Looking at a diff hotel and can't seem to find email anywhere. TIA

Offline cgr

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Re: Charleston, SC
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2019, 10:34:07 PM »
Question: How do you get the email adrs of the hotel manager? Looking at a diff hotel and can't seem to find email anywhere. TIA

I emailed worldofhyatt@hyatt.com to ask for the individual manager's emails.
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Offline ltttc

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Re: Charleston, SC
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2019, 10:46:45 PM »
I emailed worldofhyatt@hyatt.com to ask for the individual manager's emails.
How would that work with a Marriott (Sheraton) property?

Offline cgr

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Re: Charleston, SC
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2019, 11:03:02 PM »
How would that work with a Marriott (Sheraton) property?

I was staying at a Hyatt property, but I'm assuming you can try the same thing for Marriott. Email their corporate offices and ask for the contact info of the manager for a specific hotel.
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Offline Proisrael

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Re: Charleston, SC
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2019, 01:50:31 AM »
  • Old Slave Mart Museum- 2/5
  • I was thoroughly disappointed here. The museum is located in the building where slaves were traded after Charleston banned the sale of slaves on street corners. There are no re-enactments or exhibits. The museum consists of 30 or so posters detailing facts of the slave trade. Makes you feel like someone printed a whole bunch of Wikipedia pagesÖ


How would that work exactly? Cant imagine it would fly in today's political world....

Offline cgr

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Re: Charleston, SC
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2019, 09:07:34 AM »

How would that work exactly? Cant imagine it would fly in today's political world....

Didn't mean it quite like that🤨
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