Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dinner at Hyman's Seafood

We had a reservation for dinner at Hyman's Seafood. Mr. Flip had to drop us off and go park the bus three blocks away.

I forgot to take a picture of the exterior, but I'm borrowing this photo from Hyman's website for informational purposes.

This is about how it looked... us being the large group lined up on the sidewalk.

We were seated at two separate tables in the same room. They were near eachother, but not close enough to carry a conversation between tables. We split up oddly.

I happened to be sitting at a table where Oprah Winfrey once sat.

I decided to be adventurous. I believe I was one of the only people at my table that actually liked seafood. I love crab cakes, but I saw it many places on the menu. I decided to do a three combination - crab cake, buffalo oyster, and shrimp and grits.

Most everyone else at the table ordered buffalo chicken fingers or chicken fingers.

It took a while for our food to come. By the time we got ours, our other table was almost finished eating.

My food was really good. The crab cake was rather puny, but there was plenty of oyster and shrimp and grits.

It was a fun restaurant. The staff was super friendly. We were greeted by many different employees and managers, including the 4th generation Hyman (whose name escapes me at the moment).

It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't extremely pricey, either. My meal (triple combo and water) cost about %18.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Beach at Fort Moultrie

While Helen and I explored the Fort, most everyone else ventured towards the beach. We caught up later.

It was a small beach and kind of grimy - nothing like the white sand beaches in Destin, Florida. There were some pretty great views, though, and some rocks to climb on.

Isaac kept finding dead fish. Ew.

The view of the fort from the beach... the grass was very sticky-feeling. Not pleasant on the feet.

It was time for us to meet back up with Mr. Flip. Now, I thought people were following me, but apparently no one was. I went back to the front of Fort Moultrie and happened to spot Mr. Flip driving the bus. He stopped and let me on, then we circled back around to wait for people. It was very hot and there was little breeze. I resorted to sticking my head out the door. Finally, the missing people showed up, and we drove to our hotel - the La Quinta Inn.

It was fairly nice for a low-rate chain hotel. The pool was teensy, though.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fort Moultrie

We had a group reservation. I'm not sure if we needed it. The place wasn't too crowded, and I bet we could've just showed up.

We did have to wait about twenty minutes to watch the movie. There was a small indoor museum-like area for us to wander around. It quickly got boring.

The movie was absolutely terrible. It was really dated with horrible actors and cheap, tacky costumes. It reminded me of SNL's "Laser Cats," and it lasted twenty minutes. I believe we all fell asleep.

Anyway, we went out to take a group picture before dispersing to check out Fort Moultrie. I don't have a copy of the group picture at the moment.

It was a self-guided tour. We could pretty much just explore.

Stumbled across this a little too late...

Helen and I explored Fort Moultrie the most. Everyone else ventured to the beach pretty quickly. I, however, really enjoyed the fort. It was like a giant playground (except we weren't really supposed to be playing with the cannons). We kept finding new tunnels and passageways and getting lost. It was quite fun, but really hot and sticky.

Weekend Trip to Charleston

I'm secretary of the National English Honor Society (NEHS) at my high school. Now, we didn't have any meetings all year, but in April, we decided for an overnight trip. This officially makes NEHS the best organization ever.

I had never been to Charleston before. My sister has been twice (both on school trips). So, this was completely new to me.

The plan was to leave Saturday morning and return Sunday afternoon for our "literary adventure." I had to get to the school at the butt crack of dawn (as my second mother, Gay-Gay, always says) to get on the old yellow school bus. We slept for about two hours, then stopped at McDonald's in Clinton. After another hour, Mr. Flip passed out reading material on Charleston that I skimmed quickly (I get carsick quickly on big, yellow buses!) before listening to my iPod, again.

We stopped at Northwood Mall for lunch. Helen and I got subs from Quiznos, then browsed around the mall. I decided that I needed a drawstring bag to carry my wallet and camera (I would loose a purse). We went in a bunch of stores with no luck, until we found some Palmetto store with South Carolina souvenirs. I found a light pink drawstring bag with a palm tree embroidered on it and decided it was just what I needed ($10).

Finally, we got back on the bus. By now, it was raining and really hot, so the bus was super humid.

Pretty soon we were at... Fort Moutrie!

Bellagio Review

Being one of the most expensive resorts on the strip, of course the Bellagio is oozing luxury. The resort’s biggest draw is the water at front, which performs to over thirty different numbers. The nightly performances cause people of all nationalities, races, and religions to stop and watch in awe as the water dances to music.


Upon walking into the resort, you’ll notice guests staring up at (not to mention taking photos of) the colorful, glass ceiling.


Behind the front desk is a garden-like area, which the natural sun shines through during the day. If it weren’t for the constant “bah-da-ding” of the adjacent casino, one might think they were residing in a tropical environment. Though I liked the bright color scheme, I must say that I found the lobby slightly unimpressive after having entered the magnificent lobbies of the Grand Floridian Resort and Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World.


The Bellagio is also home to The Conservatory, an indoor garden that, seemingly, never seizes to mesmerize guests. Now, I, personally, never seemed to understand why this attraction was so popular. It’s just flowers. Yes, they’re pretty, but what’s the deal? I suppose that in the overwhelmingly concrete city of Las Vegas, flowers are a rarity (if you want more flowers, visit the Wynn, which also has a lovely indoor floral area). If you can shove your way past the mobs of people taking pictures into the glass house, you’ll see a couple of brown butterflies (which also screams, “Photograph, me, tourist!” [this is a slightly hypocritical use of satire, considering I, too, photographed the ugly, brown butterflies]). There are some lovely ladybug topiaries, and some cute watering cans that might justify this location’s popularity (though I do not recall seeing people photograph the watering cans – they were more mesmerized by the color-changing glass ball), but I wouldn’t put this on the top of my to-do list. This belongs on the to-do-if-we-are-bored-and-in-the-area list.












Right next door to the Conservatory is a high-priced art museum. I cannot tell you what kind of art, though. Possibly paintings of flowers (one would think, considering the location). However, the entry fee to this art museum is too high for me to even read a description of the artwork that is inside. Now, if I were a little more interested in art, I would investigate and possibly pay the seemingly high admission. But having no interest whatsoever, I decided to ignore this attraction and move on to something more thrilling – the buffet.


We did try out the Bellagio’s buffet one morning. We waited in line for forty-five minutes for breakfast, approaching the cash register at 11:00, therefore charged the lunch price ($10 more) so that we could eat breakfast. We did eat lunch entrees (sushi and dessert), as well, so we would at least feel as if we were getting our money’s worth (there is no such thing). The food was pretty good for buffet food. Now, I’m no food connoisseur, so that’s the best food description you’re going to get from me. It was a high-class buffet (if there is such a thing). Instead of being surrounded by grimy children sticking their hands in the desserts and slobbering on the silverware, we were trampled over by senior citizens wearing Ralph Lauren.

We attempted to eat at the Bellagio Café one night. However, after being seated for twenty minutes without being waited on, we decided to walk. Twenty minutes, however, gave us enough time to read our menus cover-to-cover, examining the rather outrageous prices. Seven dollars for a bowl of cereal. For seven dollars, one could buy a box of cereal, a gallon of milk, and even a plastic bowl and spoon to eat with. (This made walking out extremely easy.)

When we left, we headed to John Philippe’s Patisserie, which served crepes and other baked goods. This is also where we got our breakfast for the week (that is, when we did not go to a buffet). The crepes were delicious. I got a completely chocolate one and had no problem eating all of it (mwuahaha!). It cost just a few dollars more than the bowl of cereal.


We dined at Gellatio after having spent the day at the pool. I got the seafood wrap, and my father got some sandwich. They were both good, but rather pricey. The bill totaled to $30 for two entrees and two fountain drinks ($3.50 each). Of course, this pricing is rather typical for the resort.

We stopped by Snacks at Bellagio to get a pretzel. We wanted a cinnamon pretzel, but they didn’t have that. Mom and Rachel held off, while I settled for a pre-made salt pretzel. They microwaved it for me, but it was still hard and not that great. But I ate it anyway because we paid for it. I don’t recommend.

Noodles was the only real restaurant we ate at. They did not take reservations, but but we were seated quickly by a graceful young Asian lady (I would guess Korean). The walls were white and shelves were filled with glass jars of noodles and such. Mom remarked that the decor made it feel more like we were sitting in a store than in a restaurant. I liked the simple decor. I ordered Kim Che with brown rice, Rachel ordered a vegetable platter with steamed rice, Dad ordered some noodle dish, and I don't recall what Mom ordered. We all ate each other's food.


There were two gift shops with logo souvenirs, as well as toiletries, near the elevators of the spa tower (there were likely replicas of these stores by the elevators of the main wing). If you venture to the other side of the building, you’ll come across Bellagio’s Forum Shops. These are high-end stores that I can’t afford to set foot in. Armani Exchange, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren remained empty throughout the week. Likely the result of the ever-worsening economy, the employees of these shops stood around with no clothes to fold and no guests to attend to. I’m sure if some lost tourist were to wander in to ask where the restroom was, the bored-to-tears employees would rush to his or her aid, having not seen a person set foot in the store for so long.


Upon check-in, we were upgraded to the new “Spa Tower.” Dad did not consider this a true upgrade, since the Spa tower wasn’t a part of the main building. However, the rooms were newer and likely bigger than those in the main wing.




We were in room 15619. It was very large and spacious and furnished with two queen beds, two wing chairs, a table, and a desk against the wall with the window. The room was equipped with top-of-the-line electronics, including a flat-screen television and an iHome that would charge my iPod (a second generation touch – for some reason, most docking stations will not charge my iPod… I tried to order it online, but apparently this brand is available only through wholesale), not to mention a weight-sensitive box stocked with goodies (unless you want to be charged, do not go so far as to touch this box – lift something out to examine it closer, and you’ll have a fee upon check-out). What wowed us the most, however, was the button-controlled drapery (the switches were located beside the bed and the entertainment center).


The bathroom was also quite large. It reminded me of the bathroom at Universal’s Portofino Bay in Orlando, only with a shower as well as a bathtub. Though big, the bathroom’s layout was not ideal for a family – or any guests that are not a couple, for that matter. The shower was clear glass and the toilet and vanity were all within the bathroom. Therefore, if someone needed to use the restroom or get ready at the vanity while someone else bathed, they’d get an eye-full.






My biggest complaint about the resort is the housekeeping. It was quite inconsistent. I believe that someone different fixed our room every night. One evening, we’d come in to find towels and chocolates for two; another, there’d be enough for four. Sometimes we came in to find no turn-down service at all. After calling, they’d cheerfully come to our room to bring us two (or four) extra sets of towels and chocolates (we soon learned that they were more generous with the chocolate when I answered the door than when my father did), but it was still annoying to return to our room to find it made up incorrectly. I seem to recall this happening at other four and five star resorts we have visited. I find it odd that when we visit a “moderate” resort, our housekeeping is flawless, yet when we shell out the big-bucks to stay at a high-esteemed resort, we get lousy housekeeping. We are paying for the service, as well as the amenities.