Columbia: South Carolina’s Capitol City

Just an hour and a half southeast of Greenville is the city of Columbia, South Carolina, the state’s capitol.  We went down for an overnight trip to visit one of Matt’s longtime friends Brandon.  If we were to move nearby, we could visit more often. 😀

We drove down early on Friday and had lunch in downtown at Menkoi Ramen House.  It is not a fancy joint, but the ramen is delicious and clearly popular with the locals, because the place was packed when we arrived.  They offer soy sauce based, miso based and pork based broths to choose from as well as a few appetizers and beef curry.  It was a rainy day, so having soup was just what we needed. 🍲

After lunch we drove to the nearby historic district and caught the last tour of the Robert Mills House and Gardens.  While waiting for the tour to start, we wandered the grounds of the Hampton-Preston Mansion and saw the gardens were being set up for a large event.  We avoided the rain as best we could and then met our tour guide back across the street at the Robert Mills House.  It was originally intended to be a townhouse, but never ended up being used in this manner.  Instead it was home to a seminary school until being turned into a museum and decorated as it was originally intended: a family home.  Pictured here is the Hampton-Preston Mansion and part of the gardens:

We discovered that the downstairs was used for informal eating, cleaning, a pantry and some food prep, but that the actual kitchen was outside to reduce the risk of the house catching fire, given that in the late-18th century candles and wood and/or coal burning fires were the only light and heat sources available at the time.  The main story had a formal dining room and a few drawing rooms that could be set up in different ways for entertaining.  The upper story showed pottery, ceramics, fine silver, and clothing used or worn at the time the house was constructed. It was interesting to learn about the technology of the time and certainly made us appreciate modern conveniences from electricity to modern heating systems and freezers that can produce their own ice.  We have it made!

We took a quick trip over to the nearby Indah Coffee house, and then next door to the NoMa Warehouse,  an artist co-working space and shop.  Unbeknownst to us, they were just starting to set up for their weekly flea market Fridays.  At 6pm every Friday they invite other artists in to share their wares and creations, and provide music, food and drink for all to enjoy. They were also setting up for a larger annual event called the Cottontown Art Crawl that “brings artists and entertainment to front porches,” according to their web site.  We were headed back for my birthday, otherwise it would have been fun to check out.  We may have to come back next year if we move nearby to enjoy and appreciate the creations of the local artists.

Later that evening we went back downtown for dinner at the Blue Marlin.  This restaurant specializes in low country food and seafood.  I had the Charleston Crab Cakes and Matt and Brandon both had the Bienville Oyster and Shrimp Skillet.  My fare was definitely lighter in comparison to their skillets, which had a rich cream sauce to sop up with pita bread.  We left with full bellies and headed home before the rain picked up again.

The next day Brandon made us waffles and bacon for breakfast.  Thank you, Brandon for hosting us and making us breakfast! 💗 After breakfast, I went for a walk as there are a few trails near Brandon’s house and I discovered some interesting fungi and spring flowers.  We grabbed a quick bite for lunch and headed back up to Greenville.  It was a short trip, but we enjoyed catching up with Brandon and seeing the Columbia area while visiting.  

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