Why do so many people have a love affair with Charleston? That’s such an easy question to answer (said this “expert” after a three-day visit). Southern charm, waterfront destinations, great restaurants, walk-able streets, lots of history, affordable lifestyle for residents, and so on and so forth.
South Carolina’s largest city has it all going for it, including subtropical weather — a drawback for me. The timing for this trip was unusual in keeping with pretty much everything else this year so it was go with the flow. I would love another visit in spring or fall. It’s a good idea to always carry an umbrella for the sudden and intense downpours. The summers are hot and humid, exactly our experience.
It seemed like there were tall church steeples in just about every direction, reinforcing Charleston’s nickname of “The Holy City.” But it’s also home to two very old synagogues, Kahal Kadosh Elohim (below) founded in 1749 (fourth oldest in the United States) and Brith Shalom Beth Israel, the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the south — founded in the 19th century.
We had an interesting experience apropos of what’s going on nationwide. Upon exiting Hotel Bennett on Marion Square for the evening, we witnessed a a rally and protest taking place simultaneously. At issue was the statue of John C. Calhoun, the 7th Vice President. One side was generally advocating for monuments to remain in place; the other for removal. The statue was taken down on our last day per the decision of the Charleston city council. By the way, removal of such is no easy task. Our 7th floor room was barely higher than the statue itself. The top portion was removed via an enormous crane, but we were told the large granite base will remain for the time being. The CPD did an excellent job of keeping the peace during this heated period, exhibiting grace under pressure.
For history buffs, a visit to Fort Sumter is a must. Much like the gentleman we encountered at Bennett House (see previous post), one of the rangers at the Fort is likewise in his retirement “job.” These guys really know their stuff. At the risk of sounding like a judgemental parent, I asked him if any of the teenagers that visit seem remotely interested in the history of the Fort. As was pretty obvious, he said most barely look up from their phones.
If one is in the area, seeing Angel Oak on nearby John’s Island is an absolute must. This extraordinary tree was in the private care of the Angel family for most of it’s 300-400 year history. The City of Charleston took over in 1991. It is 28′ in circumference and provides 17,000 square feet of shade. It’s nearly impossible to get the entire tree in a photo!
After a terrific stay, it was back to Highway 17 for the two-hour drive to Hilton Head, the last stop on our visit to the Carolina’s. Details to follow in the next post.