Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Columbia, SC Day 1

I'm back from my 3 day vacation in Columbia, South Carolina. There were so many trees: magnolias, which reminded me of New Orleans, and palmettos, which are the South Carolina state trees and reminded me of Florida and Puerto Rico. I had a very relaxing time. Got to see a new city, eat a lot of good food, do quite a bit of walking and do some touristy things. I'm glad I went, but am also glad to be back.

Columbia is a little college town. I stayed in Downtown, and quite a few places were closed for the weekend and also on Monday because of the Memorial Day. Nevertheless, I found things to do :)

It was shocking to see so little diversity: pretty much everyone was either white or black. Not too many Hispanics, or Asians. I think I saw a few Indian families, but that was the extent of it. So far from what I'm used to in DC.

The people in Columbia are extremely nice. Everyone says hello, asks you how you are, etc. Again, so far from what I'm used to in DC.

I stayed in Marriott. The room was lovely, I just wish they had 1) free Internet 2) fun cable channels (there was no Food TV, Bravo, HGTV, etc). Good thing I brought Big Love DVD with me, so I had something entertaining to watch.

My big king sized bed...all to myself.

After arrival to the hotel, I went out to find food. It was almost noon and I was hungry. Alas, many places were closed and I was not about to eat at Chick-fil-A. Instead, I found one of the places on my list: Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers and had Chicken Cordon Bleu pizza: Olive Oil and Garlic Base, Mozzarella, Chicken, Onions, Ham, and Roasted Red Peppers. It was so good!!!The individual 10" pizza was a bit too much to eat at once, so I took the leftovers back.

I was tired. It was a bit warm. And it started to sprinkle. I made my way to the Columbia Museum of Art. Luckily, Saturdays are free admission days. I strolled through the Egyptian exhibit with its beautiful jewelry, and then checked out some of the permanent collections. Sadly, they did not allow to take pictures (but this is quite lucky for some of you, because otherwise, I would have had an additional 50 photos!).

Back in the hotel I watched Law & Order SVU, and then decided to go to the pool and get a bit of exercise. My body is still aching 2 days later: thank god for Aleve.

After the pool, I was ready to do a bit of exploring and see what Columbia had to offer. I went by Finlay Park, managed to find the Governor's mansion, which was unfortunately closed, and even a Jewish cemetery, which was also closed.

I think other than the homeless people, I was the only one walking instead of driving. It felt a bit strange: like I did not fit in, but there was no other choice. Plus, I needed to walk: there was food to be had ahead!!!

When I was doing my research on places to see and eat, Maurice's BBQ was recommended several times. In South Carolina, BBQ is served with a mustard based sauce: quite different from what I've had in the past, but good. I had Jr. Pig Quarter of a pound of pit-cooked BBQ Pork, Carolina Hash over rice, homemade coleslaw, hushpuppies, dinner roll and sweet tea.

After dinner, I made my way back to the Capitol Building for a free Jazz Under the Stars concert. The music was great! There were several couples slow-dancing and some swing dancing. It felt a little sad being there on my own, with no one to dance with...but that's life.

After the concert I wanted something sweet and went to Hampton Street Vineyard, right across from my hotel. What a sweet way to end the day: Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee.

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