Friday, December 07, 2007

Charleston in words and pictures

Thanksgiving day and dinner on a plantation? Yup. Susan (my girlfriend) and I supped on sumptuous turkey and fixings, history, and the beauty of the plantation itself. Middleton Place on the Ashley river in Charleston. Some interesting things about it are that it was a dowry, has a traditional English garden, the main house was burned down by Sherman's troops and the largest private library in the US went up with it, an earthquake in 1886 (I think) brought the remains of that house down, and the lawn party in the Patriot was filmed there. Just an excerpt though, there is much more to it than that.

Friday morning was spent at Patriot's Point. We walked through the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the USS Clamagore diesel sub, the USS Lafey destroyer, and Coast Guard cutter Ingham. We then went into downtown Charleston. Charleston is an eclectic mix of History. While there are modern buildings and businesses downtown, many homes and buildings from Colonial times all the way up to today are there. The streets are narrow and rickety and mixed with the older buildings gives it a European feel. While it is crowded during the week, the weekends are much less busy. There is so much history downtown that you cannot take it all in even over a couple of days. The pace is slow so take your time. You can always come back. Make sure you take in a candle light ghost tour while you are there, it is well worth it. It helps if it is not the coldest day of the year like it was with us though.

Food. Charleston is a place you can really EAT. OMG. Every palate can be satisfied, even stuffed.

Art. There are art galleries galore. Several on every block. All kinds of styles. They are really awe inspiring. Michael Downs and Cary Henri on display at Mary Martin Gallery of Fine Art are the two favorite artists of the paintings I saw down there. Michael Downs has an amazing talent for displaying light. The pictures on the website do not really do them justice though.

Susan found this one below...

There are tons more Here and Here. Picasa is a great, supposing you really wanted to see a lot of pictures of Charleston. I was kind of drawn to alleys, court yards, and doorways.

My recommendations for Charleston are:
Visit in the fall or spring. Winter is ok too, but summer is hot, humid, stormy, and buggy. Humid is not your normal moisture in the air variety of humidity. Humid is you sweat soon as you open the door and you have to push your way through the air to do anything. Alligators and snakes are most prevalent in the warmer months. I was real surprised to see an alligator this trip.

Maurice Bessinger's BBQ. Hickory smoked, mustard based sauce. The yellow color will throw you the first time you see it, but when you bite into it the color won't make a difference after that. It is kind of unique and you have to try it.

Carriage rides are easy on the legs (especially since the roads and sidewalks are anything but even), entertaining, and very informative. Carriage guides are licensed by the city to validate their historical knowledge, etc.

Ghost Tours. Historical, funny, and even a little spooky. Later in the spring it might even be a little foggy, which is really spooky.

Shem Creek has great seafood, though you can get good seafood just about anywhere around there. Stone ground grits with fish or shrimp are surprisingly delicious, at least to me.

Night life. I have not been to any clubs downtown, but there are many and they are easy to find if you are inclined.

Pubs and coffee houses. The Meeting Place on East Bay street makes great coffee and Mochas. It has a fairly artistic atmosphere, and they appear to have live folk music on the weekend evenings. There are lots of pubs for just hanging out too.

If you go to Middleton place and take a carriage tour, ask for Dave. He is a history teacher from Ohio. He is a bit disenfranchised with the teaching for tests curriculum as he wanted to teach his children "how to think." So he is a bit on the cynical side, but he is funny and makes the history really come alive.

*Disclaimer: I didn't proof this well so if you are inclined to be corrective, let me know where I went wrong. I was kind of rushing through it.


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