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Wild Dunes Resort, Charleston, SC

Monday, November 3, 2008
Obviously my work gets processed before my personal pics so this is a little late but... Marcus's sister Sara and her boyfriend came to visit us from Sweden last month. While they were here, we did go to the Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove, but we also used their visit as an excuse to take a little vacation. I know that I'm always a little stumped when it comes to planning trips so this is my trip recap in case anyone wants to copy our itinerary.

First we went to Charleston which is really a GREAT place to visit. For the same price as a downtown hotel, we stayed at the Wild Dunes Resort out on Isle of Palms. We had a great room in the Village, but the whole resort was very nice. I'm pretty sure that they have facilities to do weddings there, and I'd definitely recommend checking it out if anyone is interested in a beach destination. Just be sure to take me with you because it's a beautiful area, and I would LOVE to do a bridal shoot in Charleston. In fact, if someone hires me to do a destination wedding in Charleston then I'll include a free day-after session with the couple. It's also not a very bad drive from Knoxville.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Our whole first day was spent at Patriots Point. We toured a submarine, an aircraft carrier, and a destroyer like the one that my grandfather served on in the Pacific during WWII. The aircraft carrier is huge, and you can spend several hours seeing the ships. From the dock there, we also boarded a boat that took us out into the harbor to tour Fort Sumter which is where the Civil War began.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs
The next day, we spent some time on the beach, but it was a little chilly. Then Marcus and I went on a bus tour of historic Charleston. The tour left from the visitor's center and gave us a good overview of the history and buildings. We debated taking a carriage tour instead, but the bus is much more comfortable and can cover more of the city so that you end up seeing more. I'd recommend taking the tour first thing in Charleston and then you can decide which areas you want to go back and explore on foot or which houses and churches you want to tour since several of them are open to the public.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

We really wanted to tour Drayton Hall which is Charleston's only remaining original plantation home (pre-Revolution). There are several plantations to choose from though, and some of the others are newer and prettier. We just didn't have enough time because we needed to head over to Atlanta. You really need at least 4 days to even just hit the high points in Charleston, and we had less than two. If you were planning a longer trip, it would be fun to spend 5 days in Charleston and then go to Savannah for another 4. It's another beautiful little city with lots of history, and the two aren't that far apart.

From Charleston, we drove to Atlanta where we stayed at the Marriott Marquis in downtown. I got a good price on it with priceline, and the room was nice. The inside of the building is what's really cool though, and my sister-in-law Sara enjoyed their pool. My only complaint was the expensive valet parking.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

The hotel is downtown so you could walk to the sights. However, we moved our car to the lot directly across from CNN Center and arena. The CNN tour was short and not super informative but you do get to see inside the studio. They also have a nice food court there, and you can walk across Olympic Park to both the Georgia Aquarium and The World of Coca-Cola to hit all three in one day.

Marcus and I toured the Coke museum several years ago at their old location, and I thought it was fun. We didn't really have time to do it on this trip, but we did go to the aquarium. We apparently visited on a good day because the place wasn't very crowded. It isn't very spectacular if you've been to Ripley's and the Chattanooga aquarium, but they do have some nice exhibits including one with beluga whales and a huge habitat with plenty of rays, sharks, and even some whale sharks. Whale sharks are the world's largest fish species, and this aquarium is the only one outside of Asia that displays them. I don't think that it's a good thing to keep these huge guys in an aquarium considering that two of these beautiful creatures have died there this year, but they really are interesting to see.

I collected some new, cool texture photos from Fort Sumter and got a few pics on the ships, but my favorite photos from this trip were from the aquarium. This first photograph was taken through a viewing window on the six million gallon tank holding the whale sharks. It looks like a little fishbowl, but that fish is 15 feet long!

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

After the aquarium, we went to a Thrashers NHL game. Unfortunately, they didn't win, but hey... I'm from Tennessee so I'm used to that, right? It was still a lot of fun and a good ending to a great trip.

Edit: I saw on tv that Live at Five did a segment on the aquarium and swimming with the whale sharks.
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