My Charleston travel diary: Spring break at the CAA basketball tournament

I’ve never taken a college spring break trip before, so I figured my senior year was the perfect time to make that happen! My spring break ended up being an adventure, but not in the typical style. I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina with my boyfriend Brendan and one of our BFFs Kevin to see our school’s men’s basketball conference championships.

We spent three days in Charleston, watched seven basketball games, and managed to squeeze in some sightseeing too. This post is the first of its kind on Honeybee Joyous and I’m going to share my spring break with you in the form of a travel diary. Keep reading to find out what we did in Charleston and be sure to leave me a comment at the bottom of this post. I want to go back one day and need suggestions on what to do (besides watch basketball!)

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

Before we get into the post, I’m just going to leave a quick disclaimer that I don’t have anywhere near the right number of photos for this post and if you’re expecting spectacular photography, you should probably go read the blog of somebody who has a better camera than an iPhone 5c with horrible battery life. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this authentic look into my life and my travels!

 

Day One

 

Road trippin’

We left campus at 4 a.m. Sunday, March 4th. Brendan and Kevin were surprised when they picked me up at my dorm to find me with a full face of makeup and a cheerful attitude, but my family could have told them that nothing gets me out of bed at ungodly hours easier than a road trip to a warmer climate. Within a couple minutes of getting on the road, I had draped myself in my fleece poncho from my Princess Leia costume and fallen peacefully asleep. Luckily for me, the boys split the driving so I got to sleep most of the way (I’m by far the most cautious and nervous driver of the three of us and they wanted to actually get there in a timely fashion!).

 

Press row

When we got to Charleston, the first thing we did was go to the North Charleston Coliseum and start watching basketball! The coliseum was such a cool arena (fun fact, it’s the home of the South Carolina Stingrays, the ECHL affiliate of my favorite sports team, the Washington Capitals!) and it was even cooler that we got to watch all the games right from press row.

When we got there, we wandered around for a while trying to find the press entrance where we could pick up our press passes and find our seats. We eventually found the right entrance, grabbed our media credentials, and found our seats right up at the edge of the court. Before setting up our laptops and settling in, we explored the underbelly of the arena, which featured a media workroom full of stats papers and promotional materials from each team, a room for postgame press conferences, and a media hospitality room that had food from the tournament’s sponsors like Jersey Mike’s and Kickin Chicken.

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

There were four basketball games that first day for the quarterfinals of the tournament and, of course, we watched all of them! Brendan kept the world updated from Twitter throughout the tournament (be sure to give him a follow @bdoyle45 if you’re a fan of W&M or DC sports, MCU movies, or Star Wars!), Kevin wrote game recaps on the William and Mary games, and I took pictures and got us places on time.

It was so cool to sit so close to the games in such a huge venue — and even cooler to have nametags taped to our desks when we got there. It made us feel so official, especially as the tournament went on and people from big news organizations like CBS were sitting right by us. The only downside to our amazing seats and great experience as media in the tournament was, for me, the little examples of sexism in the sports media industry that we kept running into. When people would come by with stat sheets during stoppages in the game, Brendan and Kevin were much more likely to be offered a sheet than I was. When I was standing courtside taking photos, I made absolutely sure I was standing out of the walkway, yet male photographers still managed to run into me several times as if I was taking up their space. And when I was waiting in line for the bathroom (they were both single-stall bathrooms), a man actually shouldered me out of the way to cut in front of me to use the women’s restroom! It was such a fun time that I just brushed those little things off, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it was part of my experience and part of the experience of lots of women who work in sports media.

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

William and Mary beat Towson 80-66 in the quarterfinal game, which was so exciting to be there for. (Kevin wrote a great recap of the game, which you can read here if you’re interested!) That win definitely set a great tone for our trip and even though I was exhausted by the end of the day, I was so excited to get back on press row the next day.

 

Where we ate

On day one, we weren’t very adventurous in our eating. As I mentioned, free food was provided to the media (such a blessing to our budgets honestly!) so for lunch, we just ate the Jersey Mike’s subs they provided us. We wanted a little change of pace for dinner, but didn’t have a ton of time, so we ended up eating at the Five Guys that was right near the arena and then rushing back in time to catch more basketball games.

 

Where we stayed

After all the basketball was done for the night, it was great to check into the hotel. We stayed at the Best Western Charleston Inn because Brendan found a great rate and it was a good location quite near the arena. When my family travels, we’re pretty brand-loyal to Hampton Inns, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from a more college student budget friendly option, but I was super impressed! The hotel was very clean, modern, well-maintained, and homey. The staff was so incredibly welcoming and the complimentary breakfast every morning was yummy. I’d definitely recommend checking out this hotel if you’re looking to make a trip to Charleston, because we had an excellent experience.

 

 

Day Two

 

The beach

The semifinal games of the tournament didn’t start until late afternoon on Monday, so day two was the day we decided to do most of our sightseeing. The one thing I was really insistent on for our trip was wanting to go to the beach. It wasn’t warm enough to go swimming or even really to lay out, but I wanted to take a walk in the sand and dip my toes in the ocean. We drove out to Folly Beach and it was so beautiful.

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

Even though the air and the water were too cold to enjoy, the sand was surprisingly warm. And oh my goodness there were dogs galore! On the beach especially, but we ended up seeing tons of dogs on our trip. It definitely seems like Charleston is a dog-friendly city, which ended up meaning smiles all around for our group.

At the beach, there was an absolutely massive chair (it even made Brendan look little!) so we couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures there.

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

Charleston

After quenching my thirst for ocean air (and reminding me of my fear of seagulls and pigeons), we left the beach and drove to Charleston proper. We went down to the waterfront first, once again soaking up the sun and the sea breeze. We also saw the famous pineapple fountain and my phone died right as I was getting a picture so this one with my messy hair and people in the background is all we’ve got.

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

After appreciating the beauty of the waterfront, we walked around the city a little bit. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a more beautiful city in my life! (At least not in America!) We wandered through the streets appreciating the gorgeous architecture and history of the city. We also spent some time at the historic Charleston City Market, which is like a big craft fair housed in historic warehouse-like buildings spanning several blocks. That was a really cool experience and Brendan ended up buying a beautiful photography piece from one of the vendors for his mom’s birthday.

We ate lunch (more on that later) and then stumbled onto the College of Charleston’s campus. Wow oh wow if you are looking for a beautiful campus definitely take a look at this one! I’ve never been one for city campuses but CofC had such a wonderful, hidden feel and every building was beautiful and full of so much history I really loved being able to look around.

 

Where we ate

For breakfast, we just ate at the hotel. It was a great moneysaver and quite delicious! (Seriously they had both a waffle maker and a pancake machine! Who even knew pancake machines existed?? You just pushed a button, waited a couple minutes, and two pancakes came out!)

When we were downtown, we were looking for a place to eat and ended up settling on a place called Smoke BBQ. We looked at the menu and it seemed like a Brendan restaurant and then when we walked in and they were playing Foo Fighters music, it was clear it was him in restaurant form for sure. I ordered the chicken salad sandwich and was unfortunately disappointed (definitely would not have described anything about that sandwich as chicken salad!) but Brendan and Kevin both liked what they ordered, so I’d be willing to go back and order something else.

For dinner, we were in the midst of the semifinal round of the tournament, so we ate the free media food. Kevin and I kept up the habit we both have at school, which is taking a bag of chips whenever they’re offered and sticking them in our bags to hoard for later.

 

Press row — again

The semifinal round of the tournament was waaaay more stressful than the quarterfinals and, unfortunately, ended up in a 83-73 loss for William and Mary to the College of Charleston. Once again, Kevin’s game recap was great and you should give it a read!

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

I spent this game sitting right on the baseline, almost uncomfortably close to the action. I’ve never watched a basketball game from this angle and it was definitely a really cool experience, even if it meant being up close and personal with the players for a really painful loss. William and Mary has never won the CAA tournament and is one of just four teams that have been in the NCAA since its inception to never make it to March Madness, so every CAA tournament loss gets more and more crushing. Brendan wrote a really stellar commentary about why Tribe fans should still be hopeful, and you should totally read that!

If you want to read more about the basketball team, also check out my friend Heather’s profile on Paul Rowley (one of three Division I athletes in the country to be going through law school) and my friend Josh’s column about why seniors David Cohn and Jenna Green deserve recognition for their contributions to the William and Mary basketball program. I’m friends with so many talented people who always have interesting things to say.

 

 

Day Three

 

Rainy weather

I’m glad we were able to squeeze a bunch of sightseeing into day two because the weather on Tuesday was less than ideal. It was rainy and gross, which was fine for the evening in a basketball arena, but pretty much prevented us from doing any sightseeing. Instead, we spent the morning in the hotel room (the boys napped and I worked on blogging, homework, and answering emails), went out for lunch, and then spent the afternoon playing cards.

 

Where we ate

Once again, we had breakfast in the hotel lobby. My favorite item a free breakfast can have is those round sausage patties and our hotel had them every day so I was a happy camper.

The highlight of day three, however, was our lunch. Brendan picked out this place called The Glass Onion a couple weeks in advance of our trip. I teased him for planning our meals so far in advance but I ended up being so glad he picked this place because wow was the food delicious and were the portion sizes generous!

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

I ended up having a shrimp po boy and even though it was massive, I could have eaten another one because it was just that delicious. Brendan had the fried green tomato po boy and for once in his life, he wasn’t able to finish a sandwich because it was so filling! Kevin had an egg salad sandwich that he enjoyed too. Bren and Kev both ordered sides of fries, but they were so big we couldn’t even finish one of them as a table! They brought the fries hot and fresh and the sodas we ordered came in glass bottles. It was such a cute, fun little place that I’m so glad we got to try.

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

 

Wondering how Brendan found us such a delicious little hole in the wall to eat at? It was featured on a show we both love to watch together — Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives! If you want to see Guy Fieri gush about some crispy chicken, check out the video clip here. Have you ever eaten at a place a Food Network personality has been? That was a first for me and it was so exciting!

 

One last day on press row

Even though William and Mary was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinal, we weren’t about to pack up and go home. We went and watched the championship game from our seats on press row and ended up seeing the College of Charleston come out victorious over Northeastern. The atmosphere in the arena was absolutely electric because, even though the North Charleston Coliseum was technically a “neutral site,” CofC definitely had a hometown crowd.

 

My spring break was an adventure but not your typical one! I went to Charleston to watch our men's basketball team compete in the CAA basketball tournament and had an absolute blast on press row! | MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL DIARY: SPRING BREAK AT THE CAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | HONEYBEE JOYOUS

One of the unending perks of being on press row was that we were able to go onto the floor after the game. (The picture above was taken by Brendan, which I’m sure you can tell by the angle over a bunch of grown men’s heads.) The aftermath of Charleston’s win was pretty crazy to witness. Only the media, the team, and the students sitting in the designated student section were technically allowed onto the court, but a bunch of people came out of the stands, jumping over railings and ignoring the security guards. I got a little overwhelmed being around so many people, so I ended up going back to our seats and watching the ceremony from a distance. Even though the Tribe didn’t make it as far as we’d hoped, it was undeniably cool to be there in the midst of that kind of energy after the championship.

After the game, we went back to the hotel and (like every night on the trip) turned on the TV in the room to watch even more basketball as we packed up for our trip home the next day.

 

Day Four

Road trippin’ (again)

We didn’t leave anywhere near 4 a.m. to head home, but aside from that, the trip ended up being mostly the same. The boys took turns driving (and singing along to the playlist Kevin made us) and I slept in the back seat. After a long, long ride, we dropped Kevin off at home and then Brendan and I made the rest of the trip by ourselves.

 

 

The rest of my spring break was spent at home with my family (no basketball involved) and was exactly the kind of restful break I needed after all the excitement of our Charleston trip and all the stress of my senior spring semester. This was definitely the best spring break I’ve ever had in college and a trip I’ll always remember! I definitely want to go back to Charleston and see more of the city (and don’t tell the boys, but maybe a little less basketball and a little more beach!)

{Have you ever been to Charleston? What should I make sure to see when I go back? Leave me a comment and tell me about a recent trip you’ve taken! I’d love to hear from you and I respond to each and every comment!}