Charleston is one of the cities that I'm looking forward to the most so I push to get out of Charlotte as soon as possible. We get to Charleston pretty early and park our car at the Notsohostel hostel. I already like this place, who doesn’t enjoy a good pun? One step out of the car and you realize how unbelievably humid it is. The entire world slows down. Walking at a snail’s pace we reach King St, the main drag of Charleston. It's about 3:30PM and the Portugal v Norway soccer game is on TV. We take a seat at the King Street Public House bar for a nice Tecate tall-boy to rehydrate. Dan almost doesn't get a beer because the bartender doesn't believe he's 21. That happens all the time and there is a very short list of things that I find more entertaining.
After the game we start walking towards the Charleston Aquarium. Of course we don’t go inside because that costs money, but just hanging around the pier is beautiful. We pause to watch ships enter the bay. It feels amazing taking a moment to catch my breath after being in the car all day with the intense heat.
Biergarten Day Drink
There was an enticing Beer Garden, Bay Street Biergarten, that we passed on the way, so we go back to continue the little buzz we still have. After some serious mathematical calculations we determine the best beer in terms of price, percent alcohol, and size. The walk back is longer and much slower. Beer plus heat doesn’t exactly make for comfortable travel.
King Street by Night
Now I am back at the hostel all showered and dressed, just staring at the wall. I am tired and the early drinking is taking its toll. Dan and I are trying to pump each other up to get out of here, but man it’s tough. Like all great explorers when faced with adversity we rise to the occasion and leave the hostel behind us. Earlier in the day we had heard about a Tuesday night deal where if you buy a $10 mug you get $1 refills all night. We don’t know where or when or how the deal works so we just do our usual wandering in and out of bars. We’re drawn into AC’s with $3 pbr’s, pool, and Watchmen on TV. I set up a game against a few locals. It’s funny that once you get to a certain point in the south you get guys who never want to leave. That and a lot of military. Already tonight I’ve had 3 conversations starting with being asked, “You military?”
Shots for the New Guys
Dan and I head back out onto King’s St and see the crowds heading in one direction on the street, so we jump into the current to see where it takes us. The current drops us off in front of the Midtown bar, with a line down the block with the mob holding big blue mugs waiting to be filled. We got there too late. It’s closing in two hours and line will take about that long. So back to wandering. Walking the full length of King St. we end up at a small local bar. People start coming up to us because we are obviously foreign to area and after a little bit they start buying the young new guys a few rounds of shots. Pretty glad we stumbled in here. Until I hear ‘Pants’ being called over and over again by the Karaoke MC in the back of the bar. I get up and walk straight out of the bar. Dan follows a few minutes later with tears of laughter.
Both of our beds back at the hostel are top bunks, about 2 feet away from the ceiling, and maybe a hairs width away from a ceiling fan spinning terrifyingly fast. Dan gets nicked pretty hard by one of the blades. The entire night I feel the blades chopping at the air right above my face. Frozen with fear by the thought that if I move I am going to whacked by the fan, I stay up almost the whole night.
A City of the South
Aside from the bad sleep Charlotte is a really interesting city. The smaller city embodies the spirit of the South, slow paced and laid back during the day but exciting and inviting at night. We were lucky enough to see both the big college scene, the College of Charleston, MUSC, and The Citadel surround the city, and the small local bars. Wherever you go there is a strong sense of community. Above all it is a pretty coastal city with quaint southern architecture. Charleston met all of my expectations and more.