IMG_4064

Charleston’s Dog-gone Charm

I’ve brought Hondo along on road trips to Charleston, South Carolina a number of times.  This beautiful, historic city is not only a great tourism spot, but also one of the most dog friendly places we’ve ever been. Everytime we go, there’s always a new dog friendly place to explore.

great view of Marion Square at Carolina Ale House
fully fenced in patio at Parson Jack’s

The downtown area is extremely walkable with great views of the harbor and historic houses. You can go from waterfront park, past the famous Rainbow Row, and all the way around the battery at the tip of the peninsula. The main shopping drag of King Street is lined with stores and restaurants, many of which have water bowls outside their doors for a thirsty pup. Many restaurants allow you and your little beast to on their outdoor patios. We recommend Kitchen 208, Taco Boy, Home Team BBQ, and 39 Rue De Jean.  Outside of the down town area check out White Duck Taco, Parson Jack’s Cafe, Triangle Char & Bar,  and The Dog and Duck.  For more, see the links at the bottom of this post.

 

vegetarian tacos at White Duck

 

Many of the craft breweries around the city allow pets on their outdoor patios.  We had an excellent time at Cooper River Brewing Company, sitting at one of the many picnic tables and listening to live music. Also check out Revelry Brewing Co, Ghost Monkey Brewery, and Frothy Beard Brewing. If you prefer wine or vodka, try Firefly Distillery (the original sweet tea vodka) and Deep Water Vineyard. Their dog friendly grounds and tasting room make a great afternoon on James Island. 
The beautiful beaches allow your pets with seasonal rules on acceptable hours and leash regulations. Hondo’s not a fan of the beach (he doesn’t like the evil water chasing him) but we do enjoy walking along the sand when we have a chance.

If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Monday in the summer, catch a Charleston Riverdogs baseball game. “Bark at the Park” nights are dog friendly and some offer special prizes if your pooch comes in costume!

 

For more dog friendly places in and around the Charleston area, check out these articles from Lowcountry Dog Magazine and Holy City Sinner.

IMG_4064

Koh Rong Sanloem, Island Paradise

My Cambodia experience included two nights on what is quite possibly my paradise: Koh Rong Sanloem. Immediately after picking my jet-lagged butt up from the airport, my friend S whisked me into a waiting Land Rover taxi with her friends A and Y to head south toward the coast.  Her plan was to meet up with two more friends, spend the night in the seaside town of Sihanoukville, then all six of us would take the ferry in the morning (booked through one of the dive shops) to the island of Koh Rong Sanloem.

The islands are owned by the government of Cambodia with the land being leased to residents and resorts. Our place, EcoSea, was expat run and dive oriented with a focus on environmentalism (special: pick up a bag of trash and get a free beer). The cabins are raised, wooden, thatched roof structures with  hammocks strung on the front porch. Each unit is ensuite with a flush toilet and shower wand attached to the sink. There is no wifi and the generator is only run from 6p-12a each night, but I didn’t miss either. Situated between the jungle and beach, the sounds are a relaxing mix of of birds, frogs, and water lapping on the sand. A pack of dogs calls resort home, and seem to regard the tourists as convenient sources of ear scratches. The puppies will even crawl into your lap when you’re in the main building.  After 15 minutes I had my feet up in a hammock and felt instantly relaxed. It was like all of my worries floated away  on the wave that brought me there.

At low tide you can walk completely around the side to the town.  Small, dirty, and fully tourism oriented, this is where we went to hire a taxi boat for the following day. With the help of a Turkish expat, who called his friend on the phone, we were able to strike a deal with our Khmer driver: $70 for 6 people, 10a-6p.  He picked us up in the morning and we circled the island, stopping at various points to swim and snorkel off the boat. The waters were clear and blue and the lands we saw were lush, green tree filled jungles. We could see monkeys along the banks and birds circling the shallows. The boat had snorkels available for us to use and we were able to see some tropical fish among the rocky areas. Our driver did have some issue with one of the two engines. At one point  had Y steer the boat while he stuck a pair of pliers in the 2nd engine. It never did work.


One of the special things about Koh Rong Sanloem is the infamous bioluminescent plankton. These small plants light up when agitated, like glitter in the water.  One night I walked along the edge of the water to a dark spot, kicking at the surf and watching small sparks appear in the surf. They’re best seen when completely dark, and the group I was with swam with them on both nights after the electricity was turned off at midnight. My jet lag combined with my natural tendency to fall asleep whenever i’m tired  had the better of me I was never able to enjoy the phenomenon completely. Y did try and wake me up, but apparently a shot that down.

We took the ferry back in the morning, the water rough after a night of thunderstorms.  The remainder of the day was spent in Sihanoukville, rehydrating  on the beach before taking the night bus to Phnom Penh. S is a big fan of the night bus and her enthusiasm  combined with my Harry Potter fantasies was enough get me far too excited. The coach style bus was adapted to have to 2 levels of flat beds, singles on the left and doubles on the right,  including a blanket for each passenger. S and I shared a berth for the 5hr drive. Fully stretched out, my 5’10” self didn’t fit lengthwise, so I propped my legs up on top of my bags. I’d like to say that the trip was smoother than Harry’s, but the fictional version is strangely accurate, only without the ornamental shrunken heads.

IMG_4064

Presidente and Playa Costambar

IMG_2454Nothing’s better than waking up to the sound of the waves on the beach, then watching a horse slowly trot by as you sip your cafe con leche. That’s what I think of most from last year’s trip to the Dominican Republic.

We were lucky to have a one bedroom unit across the street from the beach. I’m much more of a morning person than mum, so I’d tiptoe out of bed and out to the balcony to let her sleep in.  A little later she’d join me and I’d start the coffee in the small kitchen. It was more like living in a dream than being on vacation.

Playa Costambar is a small community outside of Puerto Plata with a good number of German ex-pats and a popular public access beach. On the weekend days the locals drive in the party would really start. Families swim, groups of friends play volleyball, and people selling all kinds of edibles from fresh whole fish to
tropical fruits would walk the length.  Every day we were down on the beach at some point looking for shells, taking photographs of the hurricane damaged hotel, or just to have the local beer, Presidente.  Our favorite little place was one of a number of bars and restaurants that lined the beach, unnamed and distinguishable only by  the color of the plastic chairs. We’d laugh and talk in our limited Spanish to the fantastic waitress, Cesarina, who was determined to be our “profesora.” Like a dream, except I swear that it was real.

IMG_2451