china meets charleston – day 2

We started Saturday morning at the breakfast buffet at the hotel (our Groupon included breakfast, which was a major bonus).  I also convinced Danny to walk outside to the pier with me just to see what we could see…it was a beautiful morning.

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After getting a taste for how pretty Charleston is from the other side of the harbor (it was dark when we arrived the night before), we got ready and met up with Neil and Paige in the hotel lobby.  Now, you’re probably thinking, who are Neil and Paige?  They’ve never been mentioned here before.  Did you meet them at the breakfast buffet?  Not quite…

I met Paige outside of Wichita, Kansas in May of 2011 when we were getting ready to go to China together for the summer.  We spent two months in Xi’an, sharing a hotel room and hanging out with Chinese university students.  It was challenging and fun and eye-opening and crazy and it made us friends for life.  At the end of the summer, we flew from Xi’an to Beijing and climbed the Great Wall together and then flew back to the U.S. where I continued onto Denver and her to Atlanta, we didn’t see one another until the following May when I came to see her in Chattanooga for a week.  Paige was an amazing host, giving up her bed for me, taking me to her family’s lake house, and showing me the best of the south.  We talked about weddings (we both got engaged that summer) and China and life after college, and hoped to see each other soon.

Well, this past November, when I mentioned here that we were going to Charleston in December, Paige picked up the phone and said something to the effect of, “You’re going to Charleston?!  We will too!”  I had been harboring secret dreams that we could meet up there, but knew it would be quite an undertaking for her, and hadn’t mustered up the courage to mention it.  So long story short, Paige and her now-husband Neil drove four hours on Friday night from Asheville, NC to Charleston and spent all of Saturday with us.  As you might have guessed, it was the best.  Paige is a true friend, and the two of us couldn’t have been happier seeing our husbands get along as the four of us spent the day exploring Charleston together.

Our first order of business was a Civil War walking tour that I found a (surprise!) Groupon for.  It ended up just being the four of us on the tour, and I think we all really enjoyed it and learned a lot.  One of the highlights was when Danny spotted dolphins in the harbor!  Danny was trying to draw our attention to them by suggesting he had seen a shark while our tour guide was talking and I was kind of like, “THIS IS NOT THE TIME,” but then it turned out to be dolphins, and I screamed.  Yes.  Realizing it was also not the time for screaming, I gave a quick explanation of “Sorry, we’re from Colorado,” (a.k.a. this is my first dolphin sighting ever as far as I can remember).

We had a delicious, leisurely lunch at 82 Queen where Danny and I both had something vegan but I can’t remember what.  Neil and Paige had grits and offered us a try when we mentioned how we kept mistaking it for oatmeal at the hotel breakfast.  I am going to keep this short and sweet and say thank you, Neil and Paige, for the taste, but I think we are not cut out to be southerners. :)

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After lunch, which we concluded around 3pm if I remember correctly, we toured the Nathaniel Russell House, which is owned by the Historic Charleston Foundation just like the Aiken-Rhett, but has been restored rather than preserved.  The home is filled with furnishings and decorations from the 18th and 19th century that reflect its original character.  Read: it does not look like it did 200 years ago, but it’s kind of close.  We enjoyed the guided tour so much that we were the last ones to leave the house for the day, and then used the grounds for a mini, unintentional photo shoot.

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^^ Told you they got along well. ^^

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As the light started fading, we walked back to our car, which we drove towards King Street and ate at Freshii for dinner.  We stopped at a chocolate shop on our way back to the car, as I had glimpsed macaroons through the windows while walking by earlier.  Paris may not be my favorite place food-wise, but they do have quality macaroons…something I did not find at this establishment.  Oh well.  Paige and Neil are better than macaroons.

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Back at our hotel we bid Paige and Neil adieu and they began their four-hour drive back home while I googled how long it would take to drive from Colorado Springs to Asheville (result: we should fly).

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Danny and I walked down to the pier and realized we could see very little at night, making it a quick visit.  We sought the advice of the friendly front desk staff since we couldn’t think of anything to do in Charleston after dark, and as it turns out, neither could they.  So we watched “Arthur Christmas” in our room in front of the fireplace.  Basically exactly what we would have done if we had been at home, but no matter, we enjoyed the movie and it kept us from following Paige and Neil to Asheville.

Day 2 of our time in Charleston was all I dreamed and more.  I got to spend time with my sweet friend Paige, my husband, and her husband exploring Charleston, spotting dolphins swimming and jumping in the harbor, eating amazing food, and reminiscing about old times.  Seriously, one of my favorite days in a long time.  So thanks, Neil and Paige, for making the trek to Charleston, for giving up your weekend for us, and for being our friends across the miles.  Can’t wait for our next adventure together :)

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