Charleston and the Low Country

Historic House in the Garden District, Palmetto

Charleston is a city that greets visitors with gracious Southern charm and then delights you with some sass.  The old coastal city, founded in 1670, is an entire walking tour of a town.   Charleston is polishing up for the annual Spoleto Festival USA during May 25 – June 10, 2012.  Spoleto is an arts extravaganza of theatre, dance, opera and all types of music.  In June, Spoleto, Italy, the sister city of Charleston hosts a Spoleto Festival.  On the Spoleto Festival’s Look & Listen webpage you can view videos of snippets of performances and access photographs via Flicker.

If you are in Charleston for the Spoleto Festival, don’t forget the scenic beauty of the walking tour of a town and make time for side trips of the city.  When I was in the city, I ambled around the Garden District’s palmetto and tree-shaded streets with stately homes and park.

band shell in the park

I saw Charleston Harbor with its gray-blue waters leading out the Atlantic Ocean at the Waterfront Park.  I visited the Battery and Marion Square and the Charleston Museum—the first museum in the US built in 1773.  I mentioned this was an old city.

Charleston Harbor

The oldest part of the city center is lined with the first US government buildings built, such as the US Custom House.  Charleston was one of the first major cities in the US and that’s why there are so many first ever government buildings like in DC.  There are galleries, shops and antique stores.

There is also the Citadel not far from Marion Square.  The Citadel is a military college that grew from a concept during the Revolutionary War.  Top flight students are chosen to go to the college and they do a lot volunteer work.  I enjoyed exploring the grounds and learning about its history.

Citadel’s Chapel

Charleston and South Carolina is steeped in history that has brewed over a period of time like tea.  The state is home to the only tea plantation in America, the Charleston Tea Plantation.  It’s worth a visit.  The iced tea in South Carolina is sweet tea.  I’ll tell you that I like low country cuisine a blend of African, Caribbean, French and Spanish cultures and recipes.  My trip to Charleston and around South Carolina was a gastronomic tour with Calabash style seafood, shrimp and grits, hush puppies, greens and pecan pie.

I left Charleston and took a trip to Myrtle Beach, Murrels Inlet, and Pawleys Island.  Murrels Inlet is where it’s claimed that hush puppies were invented.  It does have the best hush puppies I’ve ever tasted.  May be it’s the corn kernels they fry up in the hush puppies.

boat tour of Murrels Inlet

Murrels Inlet is also where Blackbeard and his crew of pirates would hide out.  I toured the inlet by boat and spied the houses on stilts along the shore.  I did the marsh walk too.  People leave the first floor of a house open, empty in case of a hurricane or flood, and have the house and have rooms start on a second floor.

view of Myrtle Beach from hotel room, on a stormy morning

shops on stilts

I went shopping and took advantage of varied entertainment of Myrtle Beach, a golfer’s delight.  I walked the Grand Strand, watched dueling pianists, listened to lots of music in clubs and enjoyed the long beach.  I sat on the sandy beach, over 60 miles long, as the waves of the Atlantic Ocean rolled over me.

Low Country

I visited Pawleys Island in the low country, self-proclaimed arrogantly shabby town, in search of sweet grass baskets and hammocks.  I did not see any Carolina yard dogs, also known as alligators.  Fortunately the ghost of the gray man was not spotted while I was there.  The story goes that when someone sees the ghost of the gray man a hurricane follows.  I did see a few glass bottle trees a Gullah tradition to protect against the evil spirits.  I thought were a nice idea for a home garden.

I enjoyed Charleston, the low country, coastal beaches with a combination of history, nature and entertainment; and the charming people with a bit of Southern sass.

A great place to explore that left me wanting more, so I’ll have to go back for a second time around.

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