Thursday, 1 May 2014

Charleston, South Carolina.

Before I go ahead with the main body of this post I want to say my heart and thoughts are with my sister Maureen, her husband Jerry and their families in Vilonia, Arkansas.  Vilonia was badly hit by the tornado that bulldozed its way through several U.S. states on Sunday night.  Maureen’s home suffered a great deal of damage and likely will have to be demolished.  Other members of my brother in law’s family have suffered terribly too.  Two other family homes were also demolished by the force of the tornado.  Thankfully everybody came through physically unharmed but others weren’t so fortunate, the death toll across Arkansas stands at approximately 16.  When we were there on holiday just two weeks ago William and I heard the stories, still so fresh in their minds, of the last tornado that hit their town three years ago and now this.  I wish I could be there and offer aid but that’s not possible so Maureen and Jerry know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers constantly.  I hope the happy memories in this post will bring a little light into your day.


I have read several books by Pat Conroy.  He’s one of my favourite authors and as much as anything I love the locations where his books are set, mainly the coastal Carolinas.   The location of a novel is one of the big things that draws me to a story so imagine my joy when Maureen asked what Billy and I would think about going to South Carolina on our road trip instead of Florida as previously planned.  It would be terrific that’s what I thought it would be!  Happily, Billy too thought it a was a grand idea and so…


.. after a looong but fun road trip, broken by an overnight stay in Douglasville outside of Atlanta we arrived in South Carolina!


It was in Douglasville that we had a little run in with the law!  Stopped at traffic lights at a very busy road junction the driver behind ran into us.  Fortunately nobody was hurt and the damage was minimal.  In the USA even though no one’s hurt the police still have to be called, mainly for insurance reasons from what I can gather.   As luck would have it this was a brand new car too.  Maureen and Jerry had only got it two weeks before we arrived! 


In Douglasville we ate our evening meal at The Cracker Barrel across the road from our hotel.  We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express, a beautiful hotel.  If only the Hawthorne Suites had been of the same standard….   Anyway, it was here that happily, amazingly we got to see Maureen’s son, his wife and their two little boys.  They were returning from a trip to Disney World, Florida via Atlanta.  I know, that was one heck of a drive from Arkansas to Florida!   Maureen and Damian had been on the phone to each other comparing our locations during the journey and Damian surprised us by turning up at the Cracker Barrel!  What a lovely surprise that was!!  It more than made up for the car mishap.


So, onward to Charleston now.  Our first stop was the tourist information office where a nice young man booked our not so nice accommodation for the next couple of nights for us.  Accommodation was scarce.  A tennis convention had swamped Charleston and we ended up in the Hawthorne Suites by Windham.  Never again will we stay in the Hawthorne Suites!  Let’s just we didn’t like them very much and move on.


But Charleston, we loved!  After finding our accommodation and deciding we had no choice but to stay there or miss time in Charleston we drove back into Charleston to explore this beautiful city on foot.   Walking down one of the main streets in the general direction of the waterfront I spotted these four merry makers.  I wondered if it was safe but carried on regardless.


The Daughters of the Confederacy Museum and Charleston City Market.  A bustling place full of different shops etc.

We walked all over the city for ages taking in the sights and sounds of this wonderful place until darkness and hunger pangs reminded us we had yet to eat and so found our way back to our hotel.


We had decided that our best course of action the following day was to take a City Tour Bus and made it back to the Visitor Centre where the buses left from by about 9.45 a.m.  A City Tour Bus is definitely one of the best ways to find your way around a new city.  After the tour we wandered around the city with a bit more knowledge about our surroundings than we’d had the night before.


On the bus we learned that this house was nicknamed The Wedding Cake House.  It doesn’t take much imagination to see why.  Very pretty it was too in the sunlight.


I asked this old cowboy if I could take his picture before I did so and with a smile he said, go ahead.  I liked his cowboy hat and cowboy boots  and his pleasant demeanour.  I also like the way Maureen is having a good look at him.  Something about it all was amusing her.  Must ask her about that.


A cobbled street full of historic old houses and lined with palmetto trees.  Beautiful!  The tour bus had taken us down this street and the driver had told us interesting facts about the houses and residents, not one fact of which I can remember now!  It was interesting at the time though!


Very pretty.


This was such a beautiful spring day in such a beautiful place.


A narrow single house with its porches on the side. 


This fantastic house overlooks the waterfront.  I’d settle for a house with just one veranda!  Follow this link to see more images of historic Charleston houses.


The Old Slave Mart near the waterfront.  In 1860 57% of Charleston’s residents were enslaved blacks.  A sorry and sad fact of history almost impossible now to imagine that it ever took place.  I have just read Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a heartbreaking account of slavery.   A compelling but not easy read. 


The Pineapple Fountain, part of the Waterfront Park.  A popular spot to cool off in the heat of the summer.


The Waterfront of Charleston.


After a lot of traipsing around it was a pleasure to sit and enjoy the view.


We watched and waited  for quite some time for this cruise ship to leave its mooring and sail away in front of us.  When it finally did draw up its anchor it went out in reverse mode and didn’t pass anywhere near us!  However there was a great distraction while we waited.  Dolphins were swimming around in the harbour!  How special was that?


We saw lots of bikes like these in different colours.  This was my favourite one.

So, yes sir! It was a great idea to visit Charleston in South Carolina.  I’m sure we didn’t see the half of it but what we did see was well worth the 1,000 mile journey to get there!



Victoria said...

It looks so beautiful, I could live in the Wedding Cake House very happily. So sorry for the devastation our family is going through in Vilonia and I too wish we could go and offer practical help. This looks like the best visit you've had to see Maureen and Jerry. xxx

Anita Johnson said...

I am thankful your family is safe but am so sorry to hear of the damage to their heart breaks for all the folks affected by this latest storm. It looks like you had a wonderful time on your visit.I have been only down that way once, I thought it was beautiful!