Back in 2010 I was very fortunate to take a couple of graduate classes through the Semester at Sea Student Affairs at Sea program. Semester at Sea is a really different take on study abroad. Instead of immersion into one country for a semester or summer, you can travel to several different countries, study and attend classes taught by visiting professors from all over the U.S. While stopped in each port you have the opportunity to tour and travel throughout the country and participate in service and educational trips. During my summer in the Mediterranean, I met some amazing people. My friend Kerry from college was able to go and took graduate classes through the Teachers at Sea Program. I also became very close to Two Wisconsinites, Emily and Beth. We ended up traveling a lot and spending time on the ship together.
Emily, Joy, Beth & Kerry in Turkey Semester at Sea Summer 2010 Voyage
Since our voyage we have been able to keep up with an annual girls trip. We don’t get to see each other as frequently as we would like but the minute we all get together we pick up right where we left off. Our last four trips we visited each other in our respective home states. This year we decided to mix it up and visit a new place we have never been, Kerry suggested Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC #southerncharm.
Other than a family trip to Disney, I have not ventured too far down the east coast so this was an awesome adventure and I highly recommend a visit to these cities.
1:45 PM: Taxi driver immediately asked if we are from the North. Guess our accents were pretty noticable south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
2:20 PM: Checked in at the Cotton Sail Hotel, we didn’t even ask for an early check in but a room is ready! Tossed our luggage down, freshened up a bit and headed out to explore. EVERYTHING is walking distance from our hotel.
3:15 PM: The concierge helped us purchase tickets for the hop-on/off Old Savannah Trolley Tour. We planned to do the trolley tour on day 2 but since it was late in the afternoon we only paid for one day but still got to ride the Trolley that afternoon. Score! #bargain
3:30 PM: Hopped on the trolley and took a full tour of Savannah. Being the super organized (ok fine, geeky) travelers that we are, we made a list of all the stops we wanted to hop off and visit the next day. This tour company is also super fun because (warning more geeking out) at several stops there are actors dressed as historical figures who jump on the trolley to provide a more historical overview. #historyisfun #Lifelonglearner
5:00 PM: Not super southern but we were starving so we grabbed pizza at Vinnie Van Go Go’s Pizza. Delicious. FYI, cash only so go prepared.
6:15 PM: Shopped around City Market and walked through some of the smaller parks. Popped into lots of great locally owned shops, something for everyone’s style. Grabbed an ice cream at Leopold’s.
8:00 PM: Headed back to the hotel to freshen up before hitting the River Street bars. We ended up talking, planning the next day and falling asleep.
9:30 AM: Quick breakfast at Goose Feathers Cafe and ran over to the visitor center to catch the trolley.
10:45 AM: Waited in line at Mrs. Wilks Dining Room. When I say line, I mean we waited two and a half hours. Well worth it and totally the norm for this restaurant. It’s all about the experience. We took turns stepping into the air conditioned shops and chatted with the people waiting near us. Fortunately, Jones Street is lined with Spanish moss covered trees so the sun wasn’t too bad. It’s family style dining so we ended up sitting with a couple in who went to culinary school. They agreed it was some of the best fried chicken they had during their visit.
The line starts at the brown pillars up ahead and continues down the sidewalk and around the corner
The spread (fried chicken wasn’t even out yet)
1:45 PM: Spent the rest of the day sight seeing.
Forsyth Park (Where the opening scene of Forrest Gump takes place)
The bench from Forrest Gump was actually a prop brought in just for filming and is on display at the Savannah Visitor Center Museum
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
8:00 PM: This time we actually made it to River Street. It was a beautiful night, we walked along the river, the bars have music playing, shops are open. And, Savannah allows open containers. Sweet tea vodka and lemonade was my cocktail of choice for this vacation
9:00 AM: Gobbled a ham, cheese, and egg crepe at Mable’s Cupcake Emporium. It was very hard to resist the confections.
10:30 AM: Picked up the rental car and headed up to South Carolina.
1:30 PM: Enjoyed touring the beautiful Magnolia Plantation.
6:00 PM: Checked in at the Francis Marion Hotel. Again, walking distance from EVERYTHING. So convenient.
7:00 PM: Indulged ourselves with more more mouthwatering southern cuisine at Hominy Grill.
Ribs, fried chicken, corn bread, apple sauce, grits, mac & cheese, potatoes
9:00 PM: Obviously following a huge meal we needed cupcakes from Cupcake Down South. Don’t worry, we each saved a cupcake for the next night and spread the dessert decadence over two days.
9:00 AM: Started the day shopping on King Street. This street is a combo of typical mall stores, local shops, and restaurants. It was early for a Sunday so not much was open quite yet but we came back later for Second Sunday festivities.
11:00 AM: Jumped on a See It All Bus City Tour to get our dose of history. Unfortunately, this one is not hop on/off. But, in addition to be a totally walkable city, Charleston has a FREE trolley system.
1:45 PM: Checked out the local artisans at Old City Market. We had ice cream and fudge for lunch because that’s what you do on vacation. Walked along the Battery and throughout the historical streets.
3:30 PM: Mosied back to King Street for Second Sunday festivities. Second Sunday is a monthly tradition in Charleston. King street shuts down traffic so pedestrians can roam the street. We shopped some more, tasted free samples and restaurants put tables and chairs out in the street in front of their restaurants.
5:00 PM: We figured we had enough fried chicken to last us a few years and being a coastal city we wanted to try the local seafood. Crab cakes at Old Town Grill and Seafood have a unique flavor, very tastey.
6:30 PM: Now, brace yourselves. Several scenes from The Notebook were filmed in Charleston!!! The Notebook was my first Nicholas Sparks movie and my college roommate and I watched it all the time (Ever After was another one of our favorites.) Fortunately Kerry and Beth geeked out with me and we found some of the scenes filmed in the city.
The movie theater where Noah and Ally kiss
The intersection where Noah and Ally lay down in the street
8:00 AM: Ended our vacation with a hearty breakfast at Kitchen 208 (I pretended to be healthy for a second with the egg whites.) Then it was off to the airport.
I have to thank Beth and Kerry for being such fun travel mates and I am so glad we can keep up our annual visits. Unfortunately our fourth musketeer, Emily (who graduated from nursing school this year, congrats!) could not get out work but we are all on board for summer 2016! Any suggestions?