Chrissie

Joined October 2016
  • Day14

    Macon to Atlanta

    June 5, 2017 in the United States

    Monday 5th June
    After last night’s rain storms it was still overcast this morning. We finished packing, breakfasted and hit the road, giving ourselves plenty of time in case of any problems. We also planned to do a final bit of shopping. At one Mall, we found an amazing outdoor shop that had displays of stuffed animals – not sure if they were real or not, but they were in realistic woodland settings, they even had mock mountains for goats and aquariums for bears to fish. It really was a one of a kind, I have never seen a shop like this with such an elaborate display.

    The drive onwards to the airport was rather scary as the rain lashed down again, seriously reducing visibility and we had to travel on an 8-lane interstate. Peter slowed right down, but other cars and huge Big Mac arctics were roaring past, switching lanes and dodging about. We were very relieved when we finally reached Atlanta airport to return the car.

    So now we finally have settled into the lounge at Atlanta to relax before our flight home. Its been a great holiday, here are our votes for the highs and lows:-

    Favourite town – Asheville
    Favourite part of trip – Blue Ridge Parkway
    Best value motel – Comfort Inn
    Favourite hotel – tied between Princess Anne in Ashville and The Inn at Middleton Place
    Best buy – two plastic insulated mugs from Walmark reduced to $1 each – better than paper cups in hotels – if they were provided.
    Best thing we took with us – our kettle – US rooms only have coffee machines, and we DO like our tea.

    Mileage 2,032.6
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  • Day13

    Savannah to Macon

    June 4, 2017 in the United States

    Sunday 4th June
    Last day of our holiday for tomorrow evening we fly back to Heathrow. We had decided to spend the morning in Savannah then to drive towards Atlanta to avoid a long drive tomorrow.

    Savannah dawned hot and steamy this morning. It was so hot it was difficult to find the energy to walk around. We walked along the river front where a riverboat steamer was moored. There were several tour buses that drove around the city offering the opportunity to see the sights without being in the scorching sun so we hopped onto one and enjoyed a relaxing ride around the city. Feeling peckish we looked round for somewhere to grab a bite to eat, I spotted a shop with Pie Society Traditional British Baking written across its window awning. Seeing ‘British’ I figured I would like this food so suggested we go there. The smells of all the pies as soon as we entered was overwhelming. I had a sausage roll and Peter had a steak and potato pie. It was the best food we have had all holiday and we had to buy some for later. Savannah is smaller than Charleston and although it has historic houses, there are not as many as Charleston. It has more green spaces, there are 22 green squares around the City as well as Forsyth Park which is a large park at the far end of town.

    Leaving Savannah we headed towards Macon which is about two thirds of the way to Atlanta. As we neared Macon lightning forked through the sky and thunder crashed, then it rained – really, really hard. We were glad we were close to Macon as driving conditions were dreadful. In town we pulled over and went in a bar where there was free wi-fi so we could find a place to stay. We decided on Comfort Inns as we have enjoyed previous stays and were not disappointed. As soon as we had arrived and checked in the heavens opened and the rain lashed down. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.
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  • Day12

    Savannah

    June 3, 2017 in the United States

    Saturday 3rd June
    The laundry facilities at the Best Western are situated right outside our room under a sort of car port affair. Strangely two guys did a big load of washing and tumble drying at 03:00 I sneakily peeped out and they seemed very agitated but were not making any noise so I went back to bed.

    This morning we met Savannah Dan for a walking tour of Savannah. He was recommended to us by a lady staying at the Princess Anne hotel with us in Asheville. Savannah Dan is ex army and ex police deputy sherrif, he is around 6’6” and big build, a man mountain. His tag is wearing a straw panama, a blue striped seersucker 2 piece suit and a colourful bow tie. He took us through the history of Savannah in a light-hearted and entertaining way, making it interesting and funny. Another one to highly recommend if you find yourself in Savannah.

    Our car has had a slow puncture since we got it, the nearside rear wheel slowly went down over 2 days to 14lbs, when this happens we go and pump it up and carry on. Now however it is going down a lot quicker and we got worried we might go to it and find we have a flat tyre and not be able to drive it to a garage to pump it up. So we took it to Avis at Savannah Airport and they swapped it for a black Mustang convertible. It is an older car, lower spec, with no sat nav, but the engine sounds much meatier so we think it is much more powerful – it does 15mpg! Glad we only have it for 2 days, it would be far too expensive to keep it longer. Peter is longing to open it up on a clear stretch of road, probably the interstate.

    We went to the Tangier Outlet Mall on the outskirts of Savannah and found some good bargains in clothing, footwear and Vera Bradley bags. Now we just have to fit it all in our cases!!
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  • Day11

    Middleton Place to Savannah

    June 2, 2017 in the United States

    Friday 2nd June
    We were sad to wave goodbye to Middleton Place, it was a very relaxing place that was also educational about the history of the plantation and slavery. Quite shocking what was considered acceptable and normal in times gone by.

    Since we have had the Mustang the rear passenger tyre slowly deflates over 2 days to around 14lb when it should be 31lb. We have been managing it by pumping it up but today it went down in a day so we may be changing it tomorrow – don’t want to be stuck with a flat on the way to the airport and miss our flight!!

    On the way out of Charleston we stopped at the only American Tea Plantation and had a tour of the plantation and the factory. It was very like those we have seen in Africa and Sri Lanka but more mechanised and cleaner. After tasting some tea we bought a few tins for home then carried on our journey to Savannah.

    Arriving at Savannah around 5pm on a Friday night our first priority was to find a room for the night. We stopped at the visitor information, but the only deal they had was on a hotel 20 miles outside town. We wanted to be closer than that so looked up a few local motels and set off to take a look. The first one, De-Luxe Inns, looked a bit basic from the outside but we stopped and I went to ask about availability. I was a bit put off by the handwritten notices stuck on windows in reception and the counter glass saying that under no circumstances would any refunds be given, very unfriendly. The reception was a shabby place which stank of curry. The counter had a ceiling to counter glass partition with a little hole, like at a bank, into which you could put money or whatever to pass to the person behind the counter. The room wasn’t expensive so I asked to see a room, the Asian man behind the counter said the only vacancy had a broken door lock but they could get it fixed. The room we were shown had ceiling to floor mirrors on 3 walls with a big king sized bed with dark brown covers, it was dark and pokey and stank of smoke. I felt deeply disturbed and uneasy about the whole set up and returning it to the man at the counter said we would think about it. We looked at a Quality Inn next, which was much better but in the end settled for a Best Western with laundry facilities and breakfast included. We like Best Western, having used them many times before. It feels much safer and a million miles away from the weird set up at the De-Luxe Inns.
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  • Day10

    Charleston – Middleton Place

    June 1, 2017 in the United States

    Thursday 1st June
    Carlisle apologised again for our room not being serviced and reduced the price by $25 per night which we were grateful for. After checking out of Thomas Lamboll house and before setting off for the Inn at Middleton Place, the plantation we are staying at we did a tour of Nathaniel Russell’s house in Charleston. His house has been restored and preserved so you can see how he and his family and descendants lived from the mid 18th Century onwards. Another very interesting tour which we recommend.

    Middleton House is only 13 miles outside Charleston so it didn’t take long to get there, after stopping at ihop for brunch. Middleton House is absolutely fabulous, it’s the sort of place we treat ourselves to one or two nights on holiday. We are kicking ourselves now we didn’t stay here instead of Thomas Lamboll. We did the house tour this afternoon which explained that the original house and most of the original buildings were burnt down in the American civil war. What remains is the rebuilt wing of the house and outbuildings. A lot of the contents of the building was looted or burnt by the Unionists. Back in the day the Middleton family owned several plantations and many slaves. They were an extremely wealthy and influential family, one of the main families in the area and abroad in Russia where a descendant was a Governor to the Tsar before returning home. There are vast grounds attached to the house, and the terraces where rice was grown – for that was what the slaves grew and harvested for export to Britain via Charleston, are still clearly visible. The house and its grounds are next to the river Ashleigh which is a tidal river and was important for the rice harvesting. There are several lakes in the grounds as well, which again were controlled to assist the rice crop. Walking alongside the lakes we saw several alligators of varying sizes from 3’ to 6’ basking on the grass banks of the lakes. As we got close they raised themselves up and slowly slid into the lakes. Some just lay and watched as we walked behind them – quickly! There is so much to see here it won’t be possible to see it all in the little time we have. We did get to look around the farm which has various breeds of animals that would have been on the plantation; goats, sheep, horses, water buffalo, guinea fowl, and 1 cow which people were allowed to have a go hand milking. Obviously, I volunteered to have a go and did rather well as did Peter. Lots of information and products from the various occupations that were used – blacksmith, pottery, weaving and spinning, tallow candle making, cooper and carpenter. It was fascinating. Tomorrow before we leave we want to look round the extensive gardens. After the tours and walking we felt very hot and sticky so went for a dip in the pool which is set next to the river in the woodland. It was delightful and very refreshing. All around the grounds hammocks are slung between trees and benches are strategically sited with excellent views for guests to use. This was another establishment that did hors d’oeuvres – wine, beer, cheese and meatballs. We went along and joined in, it was delicious. We could get very used to the hors d’oeuvres hour!
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  • Day9

    Charleston

    May 31, 2017 in the United States

    Wednesday 31st May
    Went on a walking tour of the city with ‘The Two Sisters’ but only one was there as the other had a cold. It was very interesting and we learnt a lot about the city, the wars, the impact of the British when it was colonised and its recovery from the ravages of war, a severe earthquake and hurricane. The city is below sea level and one road is called water lane as a creek bed runs beneath it and when there is heavy rain it floods and the sea comes over the wall flooding the houses by the seafront. It is a beautiful city with the oldest houses dating from 1719. Older houses and churches have been destroyed by war, hurricanes and earthquake. We saw houses numbered ½ and 0 where more houses have been squeezed between two houses.

    It was not as hot as yesterday but the thermometers on the outside of houses still rose to 85 degrees. I did feel sorry for the horses pulling carriages of tourists in the heat, and apparently in summer it gets much hotter! We did not go on a horse drawn carriage tour partly in protest at their treatment and partly because you are not allocated a tour until you have paid and loaded onto a carriage. Some people tour the more interesting historical quarter others are stuck with the factories!

    After our walking tour we were very tired and found somewhere for a bite to eat. We then went to see the Aiken Rhett house, a historical house dating back to 1817 that has been preserved as it was with no restoration done. Various rooms were shut up and not lived in for over 50 years which helped preserve them, wallpaper and all. Servant’s quarters were still intact, this was a family that owned 800 slaves back in the day. It is quite shocking nowadays.

    When we got back to our room we were not pleased that our room had not been serviced. There did not appear to be anyone in the house so I emailed Carlisle expressing our displeasure and requesting an early check out tomorrow with no canx charge. He emailed back an apology and agreed. We have now booked onto a nearby plantation house, Middleton Hall, for tomorrow night. Entry to the plantation grounds and house are included for guests so it is good value for money.
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  • Day8

    Wilmington to Charleston

    May 30, 2017 in the United States

    Tuesday 30th May
    Went on a trolleybus tour of Wilmington, but it wasn’t very good. There was only one bus, it went to its own timetable, ignoring the plan, it tore around and there was no commentary. Glad it was free because I wouldn’t have wanted to pay for it. I felt a bit queasy and didn’t want to walk around so instead we jumped in the car and headed for Charleston.

    Charleston is a beautiful, historic, colonial town with lots of wooden clapperboard houses. We are staying in the Thomas Lamboll House, a 300 year old wooden clapperboard house with an amazing veranda on the ground floor and a first floor piazza from our room in the centre of the historic district. It is so incredibly hot, we are absolutely melting. Unfortunately our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, but it was soon done and we settled in. We are here for 3 days and are looking forward to that. We walked to the waterfront where there was a lovely park with lots of ancient oak trees with twisted limbs spreading out over the grass. The park was patrolled by a tourism enforcement officer who made a guy take down a hammock he had slung up in the trees – one of the rules is no hammocks in the park. The tree lined streets had old flagstones that were lifting due to tree roots, but the overall effect was one of great beauty. Some of the streetlights were still gas lights, it was very strange seeing flames flickering behind the glass of the lanterns it felt like an old street in London. We had been recommended to go to Poogan’s Porch for dinner. The food was delicious and we were pleased we had taken the advice. Poogan was an previous pet for its grave was by the front path.Read more

  • Day7

    Outer Banks to Wilmington

    May 29, 2017 in the United States

    Monday 29th May
    As planned we were up and away by 06.40am. I did the first couple of hours driving to give Peter a break as we had a long drive ahead. Leaving early was a good plan as the roads were empty and we got a good few miles under our belt before we picked up any traffic. We stopped for breakfast in a town called Plymouth at Sheila’s café. Sheila was an elderly lady who cooked the most delicious food – her toast was served with homemade jam! When we arrived there were 3 local sheriffs there also having breakfast, she was clearly very popular.

    It was very very hot when we arrived in Wilmington at around14:00. Parking in the shade of a tree we went to a local café to look on the internet for someplace to stay. We decided to go for the Holiday Inn because with the points he has amassed a room would only cost $30 – bargain. We strolled around Wilmington, but as it was still Memorial weekend – Bank Holiday Monday, most shops were shut so we couldn’t really browse properly. We wanted to ride the trolleybus, but, yes you’ve guessed, it wasn’t running due to the Bank Holiday. Tired and very hot we decided to check into our hotel, do some washing and relax, maybe researching somewhere to stay tomorrow. Tomorrow everything should be open and we can explore a bit before travelling onto Charleston.
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  • Day6

    Elizabeth City to the Outer Banks

    May 28, 2017 in the United States

    Sunday 28th May

    The Outer Banks are a row of islands off the coast of North Carolina connected by ferries and bridges. We drove one way as far as we could until the road ended at the beach where to continue you had to have a 4 wheel drive, then you could drive 1.5 miles down the beach. We strolled along the edge of the sea watching the cars, some with really oversized wheels roaring along the beach, ignoring the 15mph speed limit. There were lots of pick ups with passengers in the back of the truck, some were even sitting on deckchairs. They bounced between the the deep tyre tracks rocking alarmingly. At the end of the 1.5 mile driving stretch they all parked up and relaxed on the beach. We watched as one vehicle with large oversized wheels got stuck in the sand, wheels spinning frantically, he obviously only had big wheels not 4 wheel drive. Luckily he was with a mate driving a red pick up also with oversized wheels but also, crucially, 4 wheel drive. They slung a towrope between them and the red pick up put his foot down. The engine roared and the pick up nearly jumped in the air, it wove from side to side as inch by inch it dragged its mate from the sand tracks. Finally onto hard sand they unhitched and drove away. Noticing the sky darkening we headed back, but before we got to the end of the beach the heavens opened and it lashed down. By the time we got to the car we were soaked. Dripping wet we drove off to look for a bed for the night and a meal. We found some loos where we stopped to change into dry clothes then pressed on and ate at the Froggy Dog, which was ok but very slow service. Our bed for the night was the Lighthouse Motel, a nice motel but rather pricey, but the other two in the area looked like large sheds so we gave them a miss. Once we had settled down in our room we checked the ferries for the morning and were dismayed that the only ferry with spaces left was 9pm! We hadn’t realised you could book, we thought it was a turn up and board ferry, and we had to get another ferry before that one to get to the second ferry. Kicking ourselves for not checking the ferry schedules earlier, we decided to cut our losses and set off early in the morning and drive back the way we have just come and go overland to our next stop. It will take 5 hours but actually the ferry would have taken longer allowing for travel time to the ferry and the 3 hour plus 1 hour ferry journeys. Ah well we won’t make that mistake again.Read more

  • Day5

    Elizabeth City on Memorial Weekend

    May 27, 2017 in the United States

    Saturday 27th May
    We set off early from Chapel Hill as we knew we had a long drive ahead and needed to get to Elizabeth City by evening. We snafooed some rolls, butter, cream cheese and ham from the buffet breakfast for our packed lunch and hit the road, hood down again and wind in our hair – although we did have our hats on! Keeping to the smaller roads and away from the interstate highways we were soon eating up the miles as our Mustang sped along. It’s actually cooler with the hood up and air con on full and after a while we had to do just that as we were roasting. We hadn’t booked any accommodation for the night, like all our other nights although we had been advised to as it was memorial weekend in the States and everywhere would be booked up and very expensive, possibly having to do a minimum 2 night booking. Pete emailed a few places and we narrowed it down to 2 B&B’s that looked good and were not too expensive.

    Arriving in Elizabeth City it was deserted and very eerie for a Saturday afternoon. Hardly a soul or a car in sight! Our first choice B&B had no-one at home and despite us emailing again could not give an eta. So we rocked up to our 2nd choice place which we knew had vacancies from earlier emails. Yet again we have lucked out! A fabulous place with a very welcoming couple. She is by her own admission a treats lady consequently there are lidded jars and dishes of cookies, sweets, cakes and chocolates all over the place for guests to help themselves. Wine is available on a help yourself basis and there is a pool – not that I think we will have time to indulge. The décor and furniture is antique style and colonial. Very very nice. We were extremely lucky to find this place. They only had one Queen room and a room with 2 singles left. They recommended a restaurant on the waterfront about 10 minutes’ walk away and booked us a table. It was indeed a great restaurant and we had the best table at the front by the window overlooking the bay. Our place is in the historic part of the town full of colonial clapperboard houses, some are rather dilapidated, some are in the process of being renovated and some are in tip top condition. Ours is the latter.
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