At first, when I arrived in Charleston, I wasn’t very impressed. My hotel was in the outskirt of the center and look much like a typical American town. Large avenues, large commercial areas, a lot of cars and not many people in the street.
How wrong was I! As soon as I got into the center of the historic city, I was charmed. Named after Charles II of England, Charles town was settle in 1630. It was one of the first British colonies in the South East part of the USA. It sits in the border of the Atlantic Ocean with some spectacular view to the horizon.
The city was home to rich owners of rice and cotton plantation. The house style of Charleston is very particular. Most of them are ‘one room’ wide, with the porch on the side and the main entrance door is at the porch. It is kind of difficult for me to explain with words, but I have taken enough pictures for you to see how it was built. It was one of the first things I wondered as I walked through the city at first, but was quickly informed by the guide. I also learnt that Charleston is a town that has suffered of many fires and hurricanes that have devastated the town several times. The forged iron that adorned some balconies or patio entrance doors are simply beautiful. After seeing an iron forger transform a simple stick into a vine leaf and see the work into it, I am more sensitive to the beauty of some work.
Other very big characteristic of the south, the Civil war and the many stories. It is in Charleston, that the very first cannon shot was launched at the Civil War and although details are unclear and varies from one place to another, they will still tell it out and clear.I found Charleston really pretty. I loved that is a city that has survived so much, but have manage to remain beautiful and historically untouched.
Charleston has also the first prohibitions in Parks, in 1737. No smoking, no alcohol and no…, not sure what you expect, but surely not this: cows! Apparently, it was common at the time to have diverse animal in your backyard. Cow, chicken, sheep, etc… Can you imagine the smell? That is why it was banned and animals were no longer admitted to be in the city.
Talking about animals, this is the first place I saw “horse diapers”. Charleston is so clean that it makes sure that all the horses do not pollute the streets. And if by any chance, some gets out of the diapers, there is a street cleaning car that circulate constantly in town, scoop out and wash it with water! Never saw such an efficient cleaning system! We don’t have horse poop in NYC, but we need an efficient clean system.
Charleston is also known as the Holy Church for its large number of church in the city. I am definitely in the Bible Belt. Very interesting to see this multitude of Churches not far from each other. Makes me wonder, is there really that many people in these towns to fill up all those Churches?
To continue my antebellum plantations discovery, I had to choose in between three plantations since I had time for only one. I asked locals, and everyone seemed to be unanimous, Magnolia Plantation was the one to not miss! Well imagine my disappointment when the guide who was touring the house explained to us that the way we see the house today has nothing to do with the plantation. The only thing left is the garden. Indeed, beautiful, but the house was renovated for the public opening and modify entirely from the “Antebellum” period although has kept the style. Had I known, I would have gone to see another plantation. For sure the garden was nice, but not as spectacular as they announce it. Surely, after seeing the Biltmore house in Asheville, nothing can measure to it. It wasn’t the season for the Camelia’s which apparently the garden has an amazing collection. Overall, it is nice to stroll in that garden if you have time to do so, but I was pressed and I was far more interested in the houses and lifestyle at the time of the plantation.
As I take the road to Savannah, I had been advised to stop by Hilton Head, which is an Island along the Atlantic Coast, in the south of the State. I had a bit more than an hour to enjoy a beautiful beach… It is never enough to really enjoy and relax, but better than nothing. I wanted to arrive at my destination before it was dark, so I had to keep going.
Click here to see pictures.
See you next in Georgia, the state of peaches!