Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to Choose a Professional Tour of Charlotte, NC Part 2 of 3

How to Choose a Professional Tour of Charlotte, NC Part 2 of 3

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence

On the tour route of Charlotte’s Longest-Running Daily City Tour by Queen City Tours(sm) and Travel, you will come across the Old Old County Courthouse off East Trade Street in Uptown Charlotte right next to the county jail. The obelisk/monument just off East Trade and outside the main entrance of the courthouse has been there since the late 1800’s and it commemorates the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (Meck Deck).

That document was signed in the center of Charlotte on May 20, 1775. It was on that date that the folks of Mecklenburg County officially declared independence from King George III of England – Charlotte’s husband. The signing of that document preceded the signing of the Declaration of Independence by one year and nearly two months. Unfortunately, the United States Government does not recognize the signing of the Meck Deck today mainly because they can not locate the original. The original document was somehow misplaced between Charlotte, NC and Philadelphia, PA – site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

As such, that story today is more of a local and statewide historic tidbit however you will still find that date – May 20, 1775 – on the North Carolina State Flag as well as on the Mecklenburg County Seal created by local artist Harvey H. Boyd of Matthews, NC. From 1882 to 1982 former Presidents Taft, Wilson, Eisenhower, and Ford all participated in celebrations of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and there is a regurgitated version of that document inside the Old Old County Courthouse on East Trade Street in Uptown Charlotte as well as at the Charlotte Museum of History in East Charlotte; and we have a copy of it on our web site at If you get a chance to check it out on our web site you will see that some of the wording is similar.

There is still an annual celebration at the Square – Corner of Trade and Tryon Streets – however it is usually attended only by the Mayor of Charlotte, a few historians and guests, and by folks in passing who have no earthly idea of what is happening.

copyright 1993-2009, Queen City Tours, Charlotte, NC, all rights reserved

Brief History of Charlotte, NC

Charlotte became the largest city in the two Carolinas' in the 1930’s when it overtook Charleston, South Carolina as a major distribution, textile, and banking center. Today distribution – In terms of trucking and the railroad – is a stable industry here, textile is just about all gone – Either gone out of business or gone over seas – and banking is still somewhat of a major industry in Charlotte, however, its future is in limbo. As far as I know, Charlotte is still number two behind Wall Street in New York in terms of banking and financing.

Charlotte was incorporated in 1768 after the General Assembly of North Carolina along with Royal Governor William Tryon decided to name this new city in honor of the young wife of King George III of England; Charlotte of Mecklenburg, Germany. This was an attempt to get on or stay on the good side of the king. As a tribute to the governor, the General Assembly renamed Charlotte's major street in his honor; Tryon Street.

The city portion of Charlotte began in Uptown which was divided into four wards in 1869 that served as voting and political districts. Dividing the wards in Uptown Charlotte are the two oldest streets in the city; Trade Street from the East to West, and Tryon Street from the South to the North. Trade and Tryon Streets were Native American trade routes from the South to the North and from the East/Coastal Plains to the West/Mountains of North Carolina.

The two major Native American tribes that were already here in the 1750’s -- When the first settler’s arrive from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- were Catawba and Cherokee Indians. Today, the Catawba Indians are located just south of Charlotte in York County, South Carolina and the Catawba River – Just ten miles West of Uptown Charlotte – is named in their honor. The Cherokee Indians are located in the mountains just Southwest of Asheville, North Carolina and operate a gaming facility called Harrah’s Cherokee Pavilion.

Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg

One of the first things people want to know when they take Charlotte's Longest-Running Daily City Tour by Queen City Tours is "Why is Charlotte called the Queen City?" The answer to that question is located at the corner of East 5th and North College Streets in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte Sophia was born in May of 1744 and at the young age of 17 married King George III of England in 1761 -- he was 23 years old. A year later in 1762, a new county was created from the larger Anson County, and it was named in honor of the queen’s birth place – Mecklenburg-Strelitz, today Mecklenburg Vorpommern Germany. It is located in the Northeast corner of Germany near the Baltic Sea. Six years later in 1768, part of the county of Mecklenburg was incorporated into a city and the General Assembly of North Carolina -- Along with Royal Governor William Tryon (Tryon Street) – wanted to flatter Charlotte’s husband – King George III – by deciding to name this new city after the king’s young-German-born wife – Charlotte.

The queen loved flowers and did a lot to start botanical gardens in Germany – Some still there today. She also loved dogs; there are two of the several hundred dogs that she had at one time depicted near her statue in Uptown Charlotte. She also loved children; she loved them so much that she had 15 of them! Nine of her children were boys, six of them where girls; two of them died as infants, and one as a young adult.

She is the grandmother of Queen Victoria who was reportedly between 46” and 51” tall, and the great-great-great-great grandmother of King George VI. He is the one who was married to Queen Elizabeth of England – We called her Queen Mum – who died in 2002. She is again the reason why Charlotte is called the Queen City and her crowns are represented on our street signs around town and largest crown atop the Bank of America tower.

Several years ago the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) did a special on her ancestry and has uncovered proof that Charlotte was of African descant. It has been determined that she was directly descended from the Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Skyland Family Restaurant

This place is in a bad location and will be nearly impossible to find unless you get some word of mouth, stumble upon it, or read Trend Magazine. It is located in a seemingly cloaked shopping plaza along the very busy South Boulevard corridor near the very busy intersection of Woodlawn Road, in South Charlotte, NC. Most of you have probably whizzed right past it many times. I found it last year -- 2008 -- because I have a keen nose for well established local mom and pop eateries, most of whom are Greek owned and operated.

I have ordered take outs from this restaurant several times since and the food is consistently delicious; no matter what I order. On this particular occasion, February 20, 2009, I ordered my absolute favorite fish -- Flounder. I like it both fried and broiled. This time I ordered it fried, along with broccoli soup [Soup of the day], fried squash, cornbread, and yams. The total came to $8.93.

While waiting for my order to be created, I really enjoy looking at the old photographs along the walls which are standard in most Greek eateries. One of the first things that I do also is check the sanitation code. It must be over 90 for me to stay. I did not jot down this restaurant's score, however, you can rest assured that it was over 90 because I stayed. The restroom is always clean as well.

It typically takes about 10 minutes for my order to be created at Skyland, this time was no different. The gentleman that is there each time that I stop through is very business-like and I believe he is the same guy from San Remos on Central Avenue in East Charlotte [Review pending]. One day I will ask him.

As usual, my order was prepared just right and so tempting that I could not wait to get home before starting in on it while stopped at red lights. The flounder was as always lightly crisped on the outside and soft but not gooey on the inside. The fried squash was of the same caliber and goes well with ketchup. In the South, everything is fried! The candied yams were good enough to substitute for dessert, and the broccoli soup was okay -- I have had better. I did not care too much for the tarter sauce because it tasted processed like what you buy from the grocery store.

All in all, this was the usual memorable stop for me and I can not wait until the next experience.

Click here for address, website, and menu!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Romantic Get-A-Way

Valentines Day has come and gone but if you are a true romantic, it should by all means measurable last all year long.With that said, we have added a romantic one-day get-a-way to Ranlo, NC – Just Northwest of Charlotte – for an extended shot in the heart by Cupid. The Raffaldini Vineyards opened five years ago [2004] in Wilkes County on sprawling acres of scenic terrain near the Blue Ridge Mountains. This quaint, Italian-style vineyard opened its tasting room to a large group of thirsty guests and today has established itself as one of North Carolina’s premier wine and event destinations.

“Their goal is that when uncorked, a bottle of Raffaldini wine will evoke the Italian ideals of a slower pace of life and an emphasis on friends, family, great food and, of course, reflection,” said Barbara Raffaldini, managing partner and family member.

Although emphasizing “La Dolce Vita” with visitors, Raffaldini has worked tirelessly to enhance NC’s wine industry by experimenting with Italian grape varietals never grown before in the US, adding a state-of-the-art winery and two-story tasting room and event venue and leading the petition to form the Swan Creek AVA.

Nestled in the Yadkin Valley Region of North Carolina, family-owned Raffaldini Vineyards brings Old World charm to the Old North State. Known as “Chianti in the CarolinasRaffaldini currently produces five single varietal wines and four blends: Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Sangiovese Riserva and Montepulciano.

Click here to join us on one of our monthly romantic excursions.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beijing Buffet

Would you believe that there are more Chinese restaurants in the United States than Burger King, McDonald's, and Wendy's combined? It is true, there are currently over 40,000 Chinese restaurants here, and I visited one of the newest ones in early February 2009.

I had been eyeing the "coming soon" sign for this new establishment for several months and often times wondered if it really was coming soon. Opening up a new business is always risky -- opening one during one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history is risque'.

I am however compelled to believe that this newest edition to the Chinese-American repertoire of restaurants will survive and eventually thrive at its Eastway Drive location.

My visit to the semi-grand opening of the Beijing Buffet, as usual, was unannounced; and without fanfare or celebrity. I simply walked over from shopping at Food Lion next door and after realizing that the "coming soon" sign had been replaced with a "grand opening" sign.

Upon entering this new venture, I found the staff very pleasant and professional. I simply asked for the take-out buffet deal and was then directed to the cuisine trough. As with all Chinese buffets, I had a choice of a wide selection of meats, vegetables, and rice to choose from as well as dipping sauces.

I was especially impressed when one of the staff members -- who barely spoke English -- explained to me that the green items that I was staring at at the end of the buffet line were onions. Yummy! It was even more pleasing when the cashier deducted 10% from my bill just because I was a celebrity. Just kidding! Each person that dined during the Beijing Buffet's grand opening received the same discount.

All in all, my experience at the grand opening of the Beijing Buffet's restaurant was quite pleasurable and memorable; and by the way, the food delectable! I just wish that they would put more food out on the buffet line.

Click here for address and phone number.

P.S. -- I really enjoyed the 2008 Olympics!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Dive N Restaurant

I have been passing by this place in Pineville, NC, for years and always wondered what they had to offer in terms of southern cuisine. Finally, on a busy Friday afternoon, I decided to stop in while the traffic thinned a bit. I was not too crazy about having to perform a u-turn with all the Friday traffic so I decided to park inconspicuously next door at the quick stop and walk on over.

I found the interior decor of this establishment quite interesting in that it featured artifacts from the good-old days -- at least for me -- from the 1950's through the 1970's. These artifacts proved to be quite entertaining as I waited for my take out order. My favorite was a scaled replica of the restaurant from years ago. It is made of real wood and I was told by my server that one of their customers hand made it using an old photograph. That feat took a lot of talent, attention to detail, and patience!

I found the staff at this establishment quite friendly and cordial as I was deciding what to order. Since it was Friday, I decided to order the fried fish plate which came with fries, cole slaw, and sweet tea. The fish was of a type that I had never heard of and turns out was a blend of two different fish species one of which was Grouper -- one of my favorites from Florida.

I was quite pleased at the two heaping portions of fish that came with my order and the friendliness of the staff. Heck, they even offered to freshen my sweet tea before I departed!

If you are going to check out this place, make sure you plan to sit a spell if its rush hour because they are located at one of the most congested intersections in the area.

Wanna Go? Click Here For Address!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Roasting Oven Review

I found this place in the most unlikely of all places -- the mall. This mall is no ordinary mall in that it caters to Latinos and is located in Ft. Mill, SC, near the Carowinds theme park. I had planned to visit this mall for quite sometime -- by word of mouth.

This mall reminds me of the most popular indoor flea markets made famous in my hometown of Miami, Florida. There you can find a bargain on just about anything at any given time. After browsing and carousing this mall I came across one of the many cultural eateries set up for business. It is called The Roasting Oven.

The name caught my attention because I am a connoisseur of rotisserie chicken. I quickly learned that this establishment indeeds lives up to its name in that it does offers delicious roasted chicken. I have also discovered that the Roasting Oven has the best guacamole sauce I have tasted to this date in history.

Their special sauce is so good you can use it to dunk fries, salad, and rotisserie chicken, and who knows what other culinary delights.

If you are going to check out this place, make sure you order the meals as opposed to the a la carte items -- it is much more economical.

Wanna Go? Click Here For Address!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Trend Magazine Online

Alas, we have decided to continuously update Trend Magazine Online with fresh and new content as well as offer FREE listings in our business directory and event calendar. In addition, we will feature reviews by myself and you that lets you know what we like and do not like about the sites and establishments that we cover. So stop on by and check us out -- and if you like what you see and read, take out a FREE subscription!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Black History Month

February is Black History Month and contrary to popular beliefs it was not chosen because it is the shortest month in the year. Does anyone know why it was chosen? I do and I will tell you on this months 11th Annual Charlotte Black/African-American Heritage Toursm and Pilgrimage. This tour is a re-creation of a tour I directed back in August of 1998 for a group of interracial, interdenominational, and intercultural Pilgrims that walked, hitchhiked, and sailed from Boston, Massachusetts, to Senegal, West Africa.

Their goal was to pray for racial healing and atonement for the past institution of Slavery here and abroad. While in Charlotte they visited three Slave cemeteries in which they paid homage to and prayed for the souls buried at each location. It was quite the humbling sight to see Buddhist monks chant and beat drums along side Christians and other interfaith followers.

The event was so touching that I decided to offer it each year during the month of February to coincide with Black History Month. Will I chant and beat drums on each tour? Well, you just have to attend to find out! These tours are scheduled at 10 AM and 1:30 PM on Saturday February 14, 21, and 28, 2009.

Each tour lasts 3 hours and are sponsored and presented by Queen City Tourssm and Trend Magazine Online. LET THE HEALING CONTINUEtm! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bowling in Uptown Charlotte

Finally, bowling has come to Uptown Charlotte by way of the grand opening of the Strike City Lanes on Friday January 30, 2009. The 12 lanes are located in the new EpicCentre entertainment complex which partially opened in 2008. The center is located at the corner of East Trade Street and South College Street, next to the Light Rail Blue Line and the Time Warner Cable Arena. I will be mystery shopping this site soon and will give you the scoop on whether it's worth the trip out. I will post my update here and at Trend Magazine Online so make sure that you subscribe to my blog to be automatically notified.

Best regards,
The Tour Guide

New Bowling Lanes Uptown

Finally, Uptown Charlotte is home to entertainment other than clubbing. Us Baby Boomers and younger folk can now bowl a couple of frames with co-workers, friends, and family, at the Strike City Lanes located in the new EpicCentre entertainment complex located at the corner of East Trade Street and South College Street near the Time Warner Cable Arena. I will be checking out this new site myself and posting my review here and at Trend Magazine Online so make sure that are subscribed to my blog for the update.