Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At long last, Charleston

Man, when I procrastinate, I really procrastinate.

Last year, I wrote three pieces about travels in the South, staying in Rockville, Md., taking in Washington, D.C. and the Rockville area and then heading south toward Myrtle Beach, S.C. and ending up in Charleston.

Some explanation is warranted. First, we stayed near Rockville because that's where my stepmom lives. She's fine, thank you.

We wanted to go to Charleston because we were intrigued many years ago as we and three kids, the eldest of whom was 13, blew through on the way to see The Mouse. We also wanted to spend the Jewish Sabbath somewhere with a community and a kosher hotel or bed and breakfast.

On this last score, we hit a grand slam home run.

I'm continuing this much-delayed writing because vacation season is upon us and there has been quite a bit of searching on Google and other search engines for kosher beds and breakfasts. You can catch up by reading http://mindoflen.blogspot.com/2007/09/heading-into-heart-of-dixie.html
That piece has links to the first two parts of the series. By the way, Myrtle Beach has seen a building boom with tens of thousands of hotel rooms being built. As a consequence, this year's prices are about the same as last year's. According to the authoritative Shamash Kosher database, both Cafe M and the Jerusalem Cafe are still there and operating. Good kosher food.

So, off we go.

If you spend any time in Myrtle Beach, you're familiar with U.S. Route 17. It's the main drag through town. In fact, you're probably sick of it. Well, too bad. If you're heading south from Myrtle Beach toward Charleston, you need to get back on Route 17. It'll carry you to the outskirts of Charleston, about 95 miles or so.

If you eat kosher, have your breakfast and grab a sandwich at Cafe M. There are many roads leading off the right side of Route 17 where you can park and eat your sandwich. If you don't, there are many interesting-looking eateries along Route 17. Good old Route 17.

The bridge separating Mount Pleasant from Charleston is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like the bridge you see on Boston Legal.

We stayed at a conventional hotel for three of our five days in Charleston. For Friday and Saturday nights, however, we stayed at a phenomenal bed and breakfast called the Broad Street Guest House.

Broad Street is one of the main streets in Charleston's historic district. It's an easy walk to the harbor and the downtown market, even in near 100-degree heat. Take my word for it.

Many of the recommendations I have made -- for which I receive nothing and the proprietors don't know of them unless they read this blog -- are for the benefit of people who eat kosher. I say stay here whether you eat kosher or not. The place is that good, the service is that wonderful and the food is that great.

The bedroom of our suite, make that apartment, was something to behold with antiques collected by Innkeeper Hadassah Rothenberg.

For Rothenberg, from Brooklyn, N.Y., the guest house is a labor of love. She does all the cooking, some of the cleaning and all the planning.

The weekend we were there, the place was packed, which meant a dozen or so for Friday dinner and Saturday breakfast and lunch. It was all delicious.

Rothenberg, right, is also a treasure-trove of information about the greater Charleston area. We knew about Fort Sumter, where the Civil War started, but she told us where to park to catch the boats that take you out to the harbor.

She also described a great walk down to the famous seawall and, also thanks to one of the ladies at the synagogue to whom Rothenberg introduces us, we later found a wonderful tour of the historic district from a horse-drawn carriage. "Go for the horses, not the mules. The ride is much better," she said.

Rothenberg also told us about the Hunley. The CSS Hunley was the first submarine to sink a Union ship during that war, was sunk in 1864 and it is being studied and restored about a half-hour drive from the historic district. It was lots of fun, including the guards, who are Confederate re-enactors.

Before we leave Charleston, another look at the antiques at The Broad Street Guest House.

Look, I like Rothenberg and hope she continues to succeed, but the reason I'm going on and on about her place is that there needs to be more kosher places. We went to Charleston because we wanted to see the place, but also because there are no kosher bed and breakfasts in all of North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southern Virginia. There's one that just started up at Ocean City, Md. I hope they succeed.

Reach Rothenberg at www.charlestonkosherbedand breakfast.com or 843-577-5965. Tell her Honeyman said hello.

We explored Charleston and vacinity, with its one kosher restaurant beside the guest house. We had a decent lunch, but he was closed when we returned for dinner, despite our telling him what time we intended to return. I can't recommend him.

Charleston has a lot to recommend it, including Patriots Point, including the famous aircraft carrier USS Yorkown, a wonderful downtown area including a blocks-long indoor market. I bought a straw hat there. On Saturday night, we joined some new friends and headed for that area. We even found a coffee shop with hookas at outdoor tables. It was lots of fund. We even found kosher food at the Piggly-Wiggly market on Route 7, right off, you got it, good old U.S. 17.

Next: heading north again, to Yorktown, Va.

Until next time...


Michael said...

Hi Len, This is a really interesting post about Kosher travel. Living in NYC, we're spoiled by having an abundance of great Kosher eating options, but I didn't realize how difficult it could be on a road trip. At BnBFinder.com, there is a separate search feature for B&Bs that offer Kosher meals, under the Advanced search option. It lists 45 B&Bs in the US that offer Kosher food. I hope this helps on your future travels! Cheers,

Kosher Resorts said...

I love Pesach.... all the happy memories and luxurious foods! your blog is making me hungry! :) and did you know that In English, the holiday is known as Passover. "Pesach" is also the name of the sacrificial offering (a lamb) that was made in the Temple on this holiday. The holiday is also referred to as Chag he-Aviv Chag he-Aviv (in Hebrew), (the Spring Festival), Chag ha-Matzot Chag ha-Matzot (in Hebrew), (the Festival of Matzahs), and Z'man Cheiruteinu Z'man Cheiruteinu (in Hebrew), (the Time of Our Freedom) (again, all with those Scottish "ch"s).