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Romance, romance and a little more romance in Charleston SC!!

Romance, romance and a little more romance in Charleston SC!!

Old Mar 18th, 2006, 09:26 PM
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Romance, romance and a little more romance in Charleston SC!!

For Christmas, I decided to get my stressed out wife (her 12 hour work days were doing a number on her) a romantic getaway weekend to Charleston for 3 nights from Sat, Feb 25, to Tues the 28th. Neither of us had ever been. I kept all the details a closely guarded secret. This was going to be a major splurge, one I knew she wouldn't have approved. But she's so deserving. Works like a dog and rarely complains. Plus, we've made it to middle age and if you can't live a little, what's the point of all that work.

So away we went. We flew St. Louis to Charleston by way of Dallas and arrived a couple of hours late. Fortunately, that was the only glitch in the weekend. The airport is small and easy to navigate. We quickly picked up the rental car and the stress was about to vanish.

About 20 minutes later we were in downtown Charleston. For lodging, I picked the Wentworth Mansion. Incredible would not adequately describe the place. Although I had an idea it was going to be pretty nice, I had no idea. My DW and I spent the first 10 minutes inside just oogling like a couple of star struck Yankees. We'd never before stayed in a 5 star property or set foot inside a southern mansion. It's 4 stories tall, 24,000 square feet, and has about 20 rooms. It dates to about 1886. In 1997 it was restored and converted to the present day inn. The Wentworth's common areas feature a parlor room with fire place, 12+ ceilings with ornate mouldings, antique furniture, stained glass, etc. Every day they have a wine and appetizer happy hour there starting at 5pm and lasting until the last person stops drinking wine. At nite, the library has after dinner drinks for the taking (sherry, port or brandy).

And our room (we had a "mansion room") was beyond romantic. A gas fireplace, 12' ceilings, lots of sofas and chairs, hand carved wood and antiques, sleigh bed, marble floor bathroom with jacouzzi big enough for 2, glass shower with 2 sets of shower heads and so on. Then there's the sound system. An MP3 player hidden in the armoir comes with 2 great instrumental CDs which can be heard throughout the huge room and bathroom via discreet ceiling speakers. When you return to the room at nite, the CD is on, the lights are low and a couple of delicious chocolate truffles are waiting for you in a box on the bed.

And the staff is extremely friendly and helpful. My wife had never been exposed to southern hospitality until that weekend.

So we arrived at the tail end of the happy hour and after enjoying a couple glasses of wine, we were ready for dinner at Roberts. It's only open from Thur thru Sun but if you get the chance, go. Small romantic restaurant with maybe a dozen tables sitting pretty close to one another and a gourmet 5 course dinner: sea scallops mousse with a maine lobster sauce, roasted boneless breast of duckling with a ginger-garlic sauce, Cobb-style Napa Cabbage salad, either Chateaubrian or the fresh fish of the day, and a chocolate tart and almond praline with chantilly cream to finish off the meal. And lots of wonderful wine. (Yes, I saved the menu!) It's pricey but well worth it for special occasions. The key is Robert, who not only cooks but also provides the entertainment for the evening. Between courses, he sings one memorable show tune after another with his great baritone voice.

Lovely, lovely evening made even more special by the delightful couple at the next table which was maybe 4 inches from ours. May as well have had reservations for 4!! They were about our age and drove in from a nearby town. The south is known for its manners and civility and these folks exuded both. I went to college in the south and got a firsthand education about southerners and their way of life. The "old south" really is like a foreign country to those, like my DW, who have never experienced her. So I was looking forward to giving her a little southern exposure. I got a big assist that first night from our dinner companions. At the end of the evening, they insisted on driving us back to the Wentworth in lieu of our taking a cab. Wasn't that nice!!

We picked up some cordials from the library on the way to our room and enjoyed them while relaxing in the jacouzzi. Then a little nuzzling in front of the fire place. Stress?? I don't think so!

We slept in the next morning before heading downstairs for breakfast. Nothing real fancy, but what they have is outstanding. Fresh fruit, croissants, meats and cheeses, home made sticky buns, and fresh sqeezed OJ, plus there's always something hot. But the best part of breakfast is Ms. Betty who has been there for a long time and greets everyone like long lost family. She's an institution and I can see why. Sadly, she isn't there every day.

By the time we were ready to hit the streets of Charleston late Sunday morning, the sun had come out. First order of business was a carriage ride. Very worthwhile and lots of fun. Then a walking tour of some of the downtown sites. That was also very enjoyable and informative. Then we returned to the Wentworth for our 4:00pm "couples massage" in the spa, meaning two tables in one room and 2 masseuses. Cheryl for me and Chuck for her. Now my DW had never had a professional massage before and she was a little apprehensive. But all that melted away over the next hour....

Next order of business was the nightly happy hour where we mingled with other guests and enjoyed more wine.

By this time, we had fallen in love with Charleston.

For dinner that evening, I chose the Pennisula Grill. Excellent food in an intimate setting. My DW had the sable fish and I had a beef dish. Then it was time for another jacouzzi and some more nuzzling.

On Mon morning, Ms. Betty gave us both a big hug and welcomed us to another breakfast. She's something else. Then we went to the roof of the Wentworth where you could see forever. Must be about the tallest point in town.

Monday was plantation day. The sun would shine brightly all day. We drove out to Drayton Hall and Middleton Place House which sit about 3 miles apart off the same road. Took tours at both places. Fascinating look at the history of the deep south and the slave trade. We highly recommend both plantations primarily because they are so different from one another. Drayton stands today as it did in the mid 1850s, having been the only plantation in that area not scorched by the Union soldiers. That means no indoor plumbing, no electricity, etc. Very spartan yet very impressive. We picked up a souveneer grass basketthere which had just arrived from Senegal. They are less expensive than the sweet grass baskets made in and around Charleston which are so populat with the tourists. Middleton was rebuilt and is reslendent in every way. Its gardens are beautiful and immense. It would take well over an hour to walk them all. We'd love to go back when the azaeleas are popping.

For our last nite in Charleston, we hit the happy hour and then dinner at Circa 1886, which is the Wentworth's restaurant. The food is very good but for the steep price the portions are relatively tiny.

On Tues, we left our favorite southern city and headed home. My wife had been transformed thanks to all that southern hospitality.

dcd is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2006, 10:02 PM
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Oh Dave, that was a romantic getaway, sigh. You should be awarded "The Husband Of The Year" award. And how very wonderful you appreciate your wife so much, truly lovely.

I was in Charleston for the first time last April and was overwhelmed with the beauty of Charleston. Very different from what this California born and bred woman is use to, LOL. And the people were a delight. And the food..oh the food, I can still taste it.

I hope everyone that has never visited Charleston will have the opportunity to. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful time there.
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Old Mar 19th, 2006, 06:45 AM
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Nice job, Dave! And you're right--you both probably deserved a nice getaway, and you can't take it with you.
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Old Mar 19th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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Lovely, Dave, perfect gift for your DW.
cmcfong is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2006, 10:12 AM
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What a great report and what a wonderful treat to give your wife!
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Old Mar 19th, 2006, 03:33 PM
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Thanks for the nice comments. For anyone else planning a getaway weekend to Charleston, I struggled with how many days to spend there. We ended up with a little more than 2 full days and that wasn't enough. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from St Louis and the best connections weren't that great. So we basically lost the better part of 2 days for travel. We could have easily spent another couple of days in Charleston and not come close to being bored. So we'll just have to go back and pick up the things we missed! Dave
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Old Mar 19th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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Glad to see Robert's is still there. We had a romantic dinner in '79 where Robert came out serving and singing opera, with piano music throughout dinner and the wine was flowing. Same place?
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Old Mar 19th, 2006, 04:18 PM
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Budman -- From your description, it has to be the same place. I didn't realize he'd been carrying on so long. He's quite talented. Dave
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Old Mar 24th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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We stayed at the Charleston Place (which was fabulous) but when we walked around the Wentworth...O my GOD, I'd love to stay there. What a gorgeous, breathtaking place! Your description TOTALLY makes me want to take my husband there!!!
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