Day1 – Charleston, SC

Feb. 18, 2011

I didn’t decide to visit Charleston for any particular reason. I just thought it would be a good place to stay a night on my way to Daytona, distance-wise.

After driving for about 10 hours from Arlington VA, I was about to check in at NotSo Hostel believing that I had made a reservation. But apparently I did not. (sigh) And they didn’t have a bed available. This’s when I learned that NotSo is the only hostel in the entire state of South Carolina, not just Charleston. It’s almost 10:30 p.m. I was exhausted from the driving. Furthermore, I only slept for 3 hours last night. The nearest accommodation around this area is a hotel that costs well over $100 a night. I was debating whether I should stay the night in a luxury hotel, or sleep in the car thinking, ‘Thank goodness I brought a blanket.’ But is it safe to sleep in the car in this neighborhood? All the thoughts were cramming in my head.

The girl at the reception was perhaps reading my mind.

“Well, if you want, I can offer you a cot for $10.”

A cot? Ah, a camping bed. Brilliant.

After making the bed at the center of a six-bed room, I called Mike back, who had called me while I was driving down here. Thinking of it now, he called me everyday during the entire road trip to check if I was still alive. Sometimes more than once a day to make sure I’m taking enough rest and not falling asleep while driving. Thanks Mike! I really appreciate it!

So, my well-informed friend told me about the history of Charleston—it is one of the first European settlements, and what I should try while I’m in the city, like grits. (And not to forget to stop by the Waffle House!) Interesting. So there must be something to check out tomorrow, before hitting the road again. Exciting.

It was almost 11:30 p.m. when I hung up the phone. I was super tired, but still tempted to go out to try sweet tea vodka—perhaps the only thing I knew about the city.

The kind lady at the reception told me that there’s a restaurant nearby, called FUEL, which used to be a gas station. Sounds good.

As I ordered a sweet tea vodka and a kebab, the waiter recommended me fried plantain, saying it’s one of the best in the house. I usually listen to the servers if they look they know what they’re doing. He seemed one of the kinds. Sure. So, I ended up having a huge midnight meal. The plantain was really good. If you ever go to the FUEL, I strongly recommend you try it. And the kebab was good enough. Not fantastic, but good enough. On the other hand, sweet tea vodka was a little disappointment. It’s simply a mix of vodka + iced tea. It wasn’t just for me. (Personally I like Firefly‘s mint tea vodka a way better, which I bought later at a local liquor shop in Charleston. But well, I’m a mint person after all.)

— Charleston, to be continued …


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