Anyway, just when we thought we had seen the ultimate historic southern city, we reached Charleston. Unassuming at the approach, it has rendered us speechless. Our exploration of Charleston followed a pretty typical pattern. We took a tour of the historic district with a very interesting guide. He fancied himself the best tour guide in Charleston.....great for us as he was a wealth of information. We drove through the Citadel campus (pretty impressive stats at this educational institution), heard about the Hunley Submarine(inexplicably lost at sea for over 100 years and then rediscovered with human remains in tack) as we traveled by the replica, viewed the market area which was originally manned by slaves hence called the Slave Market (not where slaves were bought and sold), cruised by the largest concentration of wealth in the United States up until the late 20th century (we're not convinced that it isn't still) where these huge 20,000sf homes can only be bought and used as single family homes, saw the battery from the war in the waterfront park area and went past rainbow row which was as lovely as it sounds (multiple colored homes all in a row create this area). We were dropped of at the marina to go aboard a tour boat that goes to Ft. Sumter. We once again were greeted by dolphins while waited to board the vessel. Ft. Sumter is an island where the Charleston River meets the Atlantic ocean and was the sight where the Civil War began
. The Confederate Soldiers bombarded the ramparts for 12 hours straight leaving the post in complete ruble, but no one person lost their life during that first battle. We read many tales of the fight that fateful day when they thought the war was only going to last a day or so. The affluent gathered on their decks to watch the fireworks across the bay as they thought this was not going to be any of their concern. We also learned that the holes where the canons and gun barrels go through the wall of the fort were called loop holes. This also would create a point of penetration for an enemy to enter the grounds, hence the term "loop hole" used in contracts or laws. We took a moment and imagined how loud it must have been to be one of the men shooting the canons in the barracks somewhere on one of the 2 floors of artillery rooms shooting canons side by side with the reverberation coming from all sides of the stone walled Ft.
When returned from the Ft. we made it our mission to get to Jestine's. This is another Southern based cooking destination restaurant, only Jestine is no longer alive, nor does her family have a cooking show on the Food network. It does however have a line out the door as there are only 10 tables. Even at 3pm we had to wait about 45 minutes to eat lunch. We sampled various scrumptious options such as corn fritters, okra gumbo, collard greens, pecan crusted chicken, the best meatloaf ever, glazed ham, coca-cola cake, peach blueberry cobbler, pecan pie, etc
. As we rolled out of there, we decided to walk the town and some of the food off. We found our way through the slave market with only a confederate hat for the boy and onward towards the Battery home district. It was Saturday evening at about 5pm and we found ourselves amongst a half a dozen weddings as this is know as the Holy city. There are 21 churches within 8 square miles. You walk a few blocks and there is another church, all of various denominations. We entered the area where the value of the homes today is based on the historical significance, not by square footage. For example a 2,000sf home built in the 1700's is worth more than 2,000sf home built in the 1900's and of 2 that were built in the 1700's, the one where Aaron Burr was raised is worth more. Also, if your home is adorned with pineapples ( a sign of hospitality in the south) that were manufactured in Germany, they look more like pine cones, this will add 30% more to the value of your home. One might ask what these people do for a living, as they have to live there at least 6 months and one day or they are taxed 30% more, they are in the business of philanthropy. There are generations of wealthy people who look for reasons to give it away. These homes all face West and have 1/3 of their living space on the exterior of their homes on porches. There are three levels of porches and they are massive. The front door to these homes enter into this open air space and not directly into the home itself. We think it odd, but we like it
. Onward past Rainbow Row and up King St. and George St. to our car....we were exhausted. This intersection is significant only because it is the highest point in the whole city. It measures 12' above sea level...New Orleans has nothing on Charleston.
On the drive home, we decided to stop off at Isle of Palms. This beach was nice as there weren't droves of people, but the sand was like cement. We stayed for a bit and then onward home to go to bed. We were all very tired. We liked Charleston very much and plan on returning in the future.
Having spent nearly a month in The South, I admit we've really enjoyed the countryside. From the bayous to the beaches, the "low country" to the Ozarks, the pine forests, Live Oaks and palms are all very appealing. All but a few miles on this journey have been very beautiful. Coming from a relatively barren area, we find the combination of a city like Savannah with its building height restrictions and very lush vegetation reasonably hard to navigate. We don't even know that we're in town half the time. I told Ellen; "Hey, we're in Tallahassee." She replied, "Where?" We never really did find it even though we drove right through it. We're also used to seeing some landmarks, any landmarks. Fortunately for us, both Savannah and Charleston take their histories, restoration and tourism very seriously and it shows in their front line hosts. Anyone in a tourist related field is courteous, knowledgeable and most of all, proud. Both cities are well signed and have tourist offices everywhere