Charleston, revisited

Thought I’d review where we went and what we saw. Most people know that I adore Savannah as much as anything, but this time, I got to see some of the charm of Charleston I’ve missed in the past.

So, the good, the bad and ugly, in order of our visit.

Radisson. Serviceable. All I can say is if you’re going to do the Bridge Run, try to avoid staying in North Charleston. This was just a bed and a shower to us, no less no more. I can’t even talk about the breakfast, as we left at 5:10 and it wasn’t served until 6:30. The room was clean, beds were nice but I’m left with two memories. One was the somewhat greasy hair dryer handle left by the person before us who apparently used a lot of hair gel or grease. The other was the clerk who checked us in. I had two sets of directions to the hotel, so I went with the one I got off the hotel web site. Alas, that was a mistake. There’s road construction going on that made our trip from the highway to the hotel go from .3 of a mile to about 5 miles. When I checked in, I mentioned that they might want to change this to which I was told “yeah, that happened three days ago, so we haven’t had time to get to it.” I heard a quote on the radio this morning regarding customer service that I thought was really terrific: “if you’re going to pay peanuts, you’re going to get monkeys.” I think it’s safe to say the Radisson is paying peanuts. C+

Hominy Grill

Bella loves shrimp and grits

Hominy Grill. I’ve been here before, so this was a return visit. They managed to squeeze us in, which I was beyond appreciative, having had a bit of a rough start in Charleston. The host was kind enough to get us in, the waitress was a sweetie and the food is always good. Bella thoroughly enjoyed her shrimp and grits, and later her coconut cake. I loved my salad and the chicken, black bean and sweet potato soup. Since I couldn’t eat the cake, well, I ate her cornbread. Also very good. No, we didn’t drink the sweet tea, but they served us anyway. We left with a smile on our face. A very busy evening, but they were professional in every way. Plus, we got a nifty postcard to take with us: Grits Are Good. And how! (Oh and since Bella didn’t order the buttermilk pie, I found the recipe on their web site and yum!) A-

RUUUU-BEN!

Marion Square. A lovely spot! This is where the party was held and I can’t say enough about what they do here. Unbelievable. Plus, walking around freely, right up to the stage and seeing Ruben Studdard sing, well, kind of cool in a cheesy kind of way. He does have a beautiful voice. Plus, we enjoyed the fruit, Clif bars, bagels and muffins and chocolate milk. We passed on a lot of other stuff, including the Johnsonville Brats. Later, we walked through and lots of students sunning and playing soccer. Like a Bowman Field for the C of C crowd. A+

SC Aquarium. Bella’s choice. Now I’ve been here before, but I’ve always been with Keith. This time, we could go at a slightly quicker pace, and so I was happier. This is a cute aquarium and we were finished within 2 hours. $18 is a little steep for what you see, but if you flash your AAA card, you save a $1. The aquarium tries to focus on SC aquatic life, which I like. A big albino alligator positively glows in the water. There were volunteers walking around with some small birds of prey (a sparrow hawk and a screech owl) and a baby alligator, which we got to touch. There were also manna rays and horseshoe crabs, and a nice bird exhibit. A big tank had some sharks and other very large fish. It appears some of the signage has aged too much. I suspect funding is tight. B

Caviar and Bananas. A market/deli/coffee spot. I got a nice little salad and Bella got sushi, both solid. They also sell a fair amount of local stuff and have a terrific selection of chocolate. The chai tea was delicious and hit the spot. There looked to be nice sandwiches too, but we were still full from the free goodies at the party. A

Sweeteeth. OK, this is something we bought at Caviar and Bananas, but it deserved its own comment. The story here is so cool. This guy used to work at EVO as a bartender, started to play with chocolate and now it’s him, a bunch of volunteers and a marketing person in Greenville. I’ve sampled the Peanut Butter and Chipotle, delicious and the Ginger, also quite good. That’s saying something because I’m not the biggest milk chocolate fan but it’s gooood. You can also buy it at O’Cha in Greenville, FYI. A

Robot Candy. Wow. A wall of gummies of all sorts. Peach Penguins. Strawberry cream gummies. Mango gummy bears. Brains! Plus the always delicious jelly bellies. Oh, and toys. Bella really wanted the Darth Vader alarm clock, but I wouldn’t bite. Instead, she bought the robot arm (basically a gripper arm that makes noise) and some sort of Mario Bros. thing full of mints. Lots of Japanese candy and just a lot of utter silliness. Bella said she wanted to move in. Oh, and kudos on the nice design! A++

Blue Bicycle Books. Nice! You gotta love used bookstores and this one is a good one. Long and narrow, with side rooms for some privacy. A cat resides there, so still we almost thought he was dead or not real. Lots of good books from the area and a room full of kids’ books. We picked up Judy Blume’s Superfudge, which Bella devoured. A

Any of you been to any of these places? Do you agree?

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