Lessons #79-81: Lessons from Charleston Part II

by Rachel on May 18, 2011

Continuing on with the lessons I learned on vacation, here are the lessons I learned on our second day.

Lesson #79: Don’t follow anyone’s agenda but your own.

The thing about traveling to a place like Charleston is that there is so much to do. And you’re probably not going to be able to do it all. You’re definitely not going to be able to do it all if you want to actually relax. And vacation is, in fact, about relaxing. (At least a little bit!) Eric and I agreed before we left that we would do our best to do everything on our list, but we also agreed that if there came a day when we really wanted to sleep in, then so be it, even if it meant missing a historic site. And I’m so glad we agreed to that because Charleston is the sort of city where you could easily burn yourself out trying to do everything.

We actually put this lesson into play on Thursday, our first full day. After a breakfast (the hotel stopped serving it at 10 so we were down there at 9), we went back to our room. Eric went to sleep and I played around on the internet. When we finally headed out three hours later, we felt relaxed and ready for the day. And we didn’t at all regret our time spent lazing.

I mean, things move slower in the South, right?

Lesson #80: Bring comfortable shoes and sunscreen.

Charleston is definitely a town where you’ll want to do a lot of walking around! Even though you’ll probably be walking pretty slow, you should still plan for a lot of time spent on your feet. The one thing I wasn’t expecting was how hard it would be to walk down a lot of the streets with cobblestones. In both sandals (me) and boat shoes (both of us), we both tripped a couple times.

A lot of the walking we did was from a parking garage to our destination. Parking in Charleston isn’t terrible, but rather than park on the street, most days we just parked in a garage on Queen Street and then just walked from there to our destination. Not only was it better than searching for a spot and trying to back-back-back it up into parallel spots on the street, but we got a little extra exercise and sightseeing in that way.

Also, despite the seriously bleak forecast on Weather.com the day before we left, which showed thunderstorms every single day and caused me to unpack half of my dresses and replace them with jeans and boots the morning of our flight, the weather was perfectly sunny every day. (And I think we’re just used to the intense punch-you-in-the-face humidity of Houston, but the word “humid” never even came to mind to describe the South Carolina weather.) I sprayed myself head to toe with sunscreen every day before we left the hotel so that all the skin I was showing off in my sundresses wouldn’t get toasted.

Lesson #81: Appreciate the sea.

Thursday afternoon we took our comfy-shoe-wearing, SPF-d selves down to Market Street to check out the vendors there. From crafts to jewelry to food, there were all kinds of things to look at. After browsing there, we started heading toward our lunch destination, stopping in more shops along the way. Eventually we made it to Fleet Landing, a restaurant on the water. The week before, I had tweeted asking for advice on what to do in Charleston and they tweeted back at me that we should stop in for a drink, and, well…I love to patronize any business that uses social media well!

I’m glad we checked Fleet Landing out because it was a really cool space, the view was great, and the food and drinks were really good! The building was built in 1942 by the Navy as a debarkation point for sailors and was renovated and turned into a restaurant in the 2000s. It’s all concrete and metal and glass windows (but is apparently hurricane proof!) and actually juts over the water on a pier. The inside is gorgeous, with tons of natural light, but we sat outside for lunch. We started with drinks — because why not, right? I had a delicious Bloody Mary and Eric had a John Daly. For lunch, I had the fried flounder sandwich which was topped with jalapeno jack cheese and Cajun tartar sauce and was delicious.

Despite never having had fried green tomatoes before, Eric decided to live dangerously and order the fried green tomato BLT, which came with a fried green tomato, bacon, gouda, arugula, and roasted red pepper remoulade. It was SO good.

After lunch, we walked up to Baked, a pretty well-known bakery that I had heard good things about. Eric got a whoopie pie and I got a vanilla cupcake with white chocolate buttercream frosting and an iced coffee. Then we walked back to the water to eat our treats in the park and enjoy the view.

While the treats were good, they didn’t blow me away. Eric and I agreed we should have gone for gelato instead. But no worries! A so-so cupcake in the park on a gorgeous day is still a cupcake in the park on a gorgeous day!

We stayed in the park for an hour or so, wandering around the fountains and the pier, chatting and marveling at the Ron Burgundy-type guy who was sitting in the grass shirtless, ogling the women jogging by, and peacocking around the grassy area, trying to impress everyone around him with his hairy chest, belly, and chicken legs.

After some time in the park we were getting a little drowsy and wished we had brought a blanket and reading materials with us — it would have been the perfect spot to relax, read, and maybe fall asleep. Instead, we headed back to the hotel to chill for a bit.

See also: Lesson #79.

Spending your days walking around in the sun can be really tiring, especially when you’re doing that in conjunction with eating rich food, so by the time we got back to the hotel, both of us were feeling kinda blah. I had a headache, he had a stomach ache, and we both just needed to hang out and relax. We ended up crashing for a while and then had a late-night pizza delivered to our hotel room. It would have been nice to go back into town and go out to dinner, but it felt good to just do nothing.

And I’m really glad we did because we definitely needed our energy for Friday!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Summer May 18, 2011 at 9:59 am

Glad you enjoyed your time in Charleston! It really is a beautiful, charming city.

I completely agree with embracing the concept of relaxing. It’s so easy to get caught up in seeing this, doing that, going here and exploring there that you end up more exhausted than you were before you left for vacation in the first place.

I went to Hawaii (Waikiki) for 10 days with my mom in November of ’09, and although it was a FABULOUS trip, she was constantly wanting to wake up early and spend the entire day doing things. Eventually I had to be like “Dude, chill out, we’re on *vacation* and it’s totally acceptable to just hang out in the room doing nothing sometimes.”

I’m going on a 7-day cruise to the Bahamas in a couple of weeks, and I fully intend to spend much of my days lounging by the pool and not feeling guilty for a second of it. I’ll still get up and run, but once I get my mileage in for the day, you can find me getting cozy with the tanning oil.


2 Dori May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am

The fried green tomato BLT looks and sounds INCREDIBLE. I feel like I need that (sans bacon)! I love being lazy, especially on vacation. Sounds like the perfect day to me.


3 Ashley@fromashleywithlove.com May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

Your pictures are gorgeous! Glad you had fun!


4 Lauren at Keep It Sweet May 18, 2011 at 11:21 am

I totally agree with #79… we have a hard time finding that balance sometimes but the days I enjoyed my vacations the most were when we got to do fun things AND take a nap;-)


5 Mel May 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Your trip sounds honestly amazing! Exploring a new city, eating delicious food and good treats, sitting back and soaking in the sun and getting quality nap time….TAKE ME WITH YOU!

haha It’s awesome that you and Eric are good travel buddies and were on the same page about everything you wanted to do.


6 Hannah May 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Lesson #79 is a great one to go by. It’s never fun to be even more stressed out than usual on a vacation, that’s why it’s a vacation!
The shoes thing is very true too.


7 Baking 'n' Books May 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Your making me want to go there now ;)

Love that the place is called “Baked” :)


8 Rachel May 20, 2011 at 10:03 am

Right?! There was a sweet baseball cap that said “Baked” on it and I still do not know why Eric didn’t buy it!


9 ashleigh May 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I love reading about your vacation! I have always wanted to visit Charleston and it looks so beautiful from your pictures. Comfortable shoes are a MUST when walking long distances! I always get so many blisters on vacation and end up having to wear sneakers most of the time.


10 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. May 20, 2011 at 10:15 am

Vacations can be so exhausting [in a good way!]. I was absolutely worn out when we visited NOLA a few years ago… the food, the drinks, the walking, the humidity… it was a lot to take in.


11 Sheanna January 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I wish I had been following you when you made your journey here. I could have told you about ALL SORTS of places to go. Charleston is kind of known for the food. There are a ton of places to venture into and not all of them are downtown (but a LOT are). For instance, my favorite bar in the world, Voodoo, is located in West Ashley (just a 5-10 minute drive from downtown depending on time of day and traffic). That place is so chill and the drinks are inventive, and their blt duck sliders with truffle fries are TO DIE FOR. If you ever come back here, I can suggest some more venues for you to try out and neat things to do.


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