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The last (and only) time I went to Charleston was this past summer, where we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful setting, but the less-than-24-hours stay left me hoping for more time to explore. So, when the month of birthdays rolled around, my trusty travel companion, Michael, and I decided that a long weekend in Charleston was in order.

We stayed on the non-touristy area of the Charleston peninsula facing the Ashley River, and were very pleased to find out that it was an easy walking stroll to get to wherever we wished to go. That was nice, because parking tends to be akin to finding unicorns in a brothel. We had two problems that first evening: limited cash reserves to pay for parking, and, well, no parking.

We finally hunted down both cash and parking after some harrowing driving, and the result was worth it. We found an excellent Thai restaurant, called Basil, and had an excellent meal. Fresh and impeccably prepared, the food there was delicious. I have to admit that it was very crowded and loud, but my hunger was shouting over the crowd.

The following day, we had to leave Charleston (really, just go over a bridge) to go to a grocery store, because I had forgotten my prescription medication when I packed. This is exactly why I like travelling with Michael: no stress. We spent some serious time waiting for the prescription to be filled, but we checked out a nearby shopping center in the meantime.

Upon returning to Charleston proper, we walked and window-shopped. The downtown area was quite crowded and the good weather had brought out those people who were desperate for summer weather, wearing flip-flops and shorts when the temperature was around 55F or so. Properly hungry after sightseeing, we had a delicious lunch at a Middle Eastern cafe called Taziki. The food here was incredibly fresh, and quite delicious. Unfortunately, our orders were huge, and we took a box back for the refrigerator in the hotel.

Our “tourist” day was Saturday, and included a visit to Fort Sumter (via ferry) and the South Carolina Aquarium. Fort Sumter is the place where the Civil War started, and a recounting of the history includes honorable surrenders, an amazingly effective siege, a changing of sides TWICE, and stories of bravery on both sides. The South Carolina Aquarium is just next door from the ferry entrance, and since we had about an hour to spare before the next tour left, we decided to take a peek. Although I don’t want to sound disparaging, I have to say that an hour was perfectly adequate to see the entire aquarium and putter around in the gift shop. The aquarium is lovely, has some very neat exhibits, and is very child-friendly, but it is small. I know I’m spoiled by other aquariums I have visited in Atlanta, San Francisco, and Valencia, but this was still a great way to spend an hour.

Finally, we found a great place for dinner: Barsa, a Spanish restaurant. Folks, this is the real deal. If you can eat there, do. The food was authentic, the tapas were outstanding, and the paella that Michael and I shared was amazing. Truly, this was the perfect way to end our vacation!

If we go again, we are

  1. Taking our bikes
  2. Go on a few Charleston tours
  3. Spend more time in some of the scenic locations

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You honestly didn’t think I would let the turtles get by without a picture, did you?image

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