We only spent two days in Charleston, South Carolina, one day beautiful and one day cloudy, but the city shined throughout. Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen (ok, that isn’t a long list, but my own experience is my only reference point.) It is like stepping back in time; the architecture and history just surrounds you. I really wished I had my camera. 🙁 I have a few pictures taken with my iPhone but it couldn’t capture everything we saw.
We started our visit with a carriage tour. It was a neat way to travel around the city and to see it. Charleston has a unique way of managing the carriage tour companies. Each carriage must first stop at a “checkpoint” where a lottery system is used. They really use little balls in a spinning wheel. The specific tour is randomly selected in this lottery. No one, not the city, the carriage company or you the individual tourist, gets to pick which specific tour of the city you will get. This is done to fairly spread the carriages out so they aren’t all in one place or section of the city.
Charleston has a height restriction on its buildings, to this day. No building in Charleston can be built higher than its church steeples. I don’t know if that is an actual law, but that’s what Janice told us.
The streets of Charleston
The ironwork is one of Charleston’s most unique features. When a house was damaged or destroyed its ironwork would often show up on another house over the years.
On August 31, 1886, Charleston was struck by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on the East Coast, damaging or destroying hundreds of buildings in and around the city. Buildings that were rebuilt were repaired or reinforced with “earthquake bolts.” Long iron rods were run through walls and anchored with a plate and a large iron nut. These earthquake bolts can still be seen on the sides of most Charleston buildings. No one really knows if the bolts are truly effective. Some skeptics think it may just have been an enterprising scheme by an”earthquake bolt salesman.”
This doorway was an interesting architectural feature.
A close-up of the writing above the door, gives recognition to the the “union” for restoration after the earthquake. “Union” = “Yankees”?
Our carriage tour was on Halloween. This one home decorates for Halloween and Christmas. The very top pointed structure is actually draped with black fabric to imitate a witch’s hat. At Christmas, it becomes a red Santa hat!
Centre Market or City Market, is a historic market complex in downtown, dating from the 1790s. It stretches for four city blocks through a series of one-story market sheds. Along Meeting Street, there are even more sweetgrass baskets displayed and being made.
On our second day in Charleston, we toured the Nathaniel Russell House Museum which has been carefully preserved and restored. It is most well-known for its self-supporting elliptical spiral staircase. We also toured the Aiken-Rhett House Museum, which is preserved under a conservation approach rather than a restoration approach. This means everything has been left as it is, even if it is not in the best of condition or dates from different time periods.The two houses were an interesting contrast. We enjoyed both!
After all this touring and history, we needed a little libation and food so we ate lunch at Hymans’ Seafood, evidently very famous given the number of famous people who have eaten there! We had fried green tomatoes (Wadmalaw Delight) with grits, hush puppies, and a sampler of fried oysters, shrimp, crab cakes, and fish with local Palmetto beers.
Before I finish with our time in Charleston, I simply must describe the marina where we spent the two days – Charleston City Marina. Certainly the most “upscale” marina of our experience over the past 7 weeks! We were one of the smallest and oldest boats there; most were large power yachts. The marina provided a free van to take you downtown, free coffee, and a newspaper delivered to your boat in the morning, plus a happy hour with beer, wine and sandwiches every evening. The outside dock, known as the megadock, is almost a half mile long! But the talk of the marina this week was Rising Sun, a megayacht docked on the long outside pier. (I might also mention that our little Kindred Spirit was docked on that same long pier.)
A few tidbits we learned about Rising Sun, the 6th largest megayacht in the world.
- 454 feet long, with a beam of 61 feet
- Can travel at 26- 28 knots speed
- Fuel capacity – we heard different numbers. Supposedly they took on 180,000 gallons (at $4/gallon that would be $720,000), but has a capacity of 265,000 gallons.
- Custom built in 2004 for Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation
- Currently owned by David Geffen, record executive, film producer, theatrical producer and philanthropist
- Reported to have 82 rooms, an extensive wine cellar, a movie theater and basketball court that doubles as a helicopter landing pad.
- Room for 16 guests and a crew of 45
A crew of 45 for 16 guests………. don’t you think Kindred Spirit is a bit understaffed????? Seriously, we may not be a megayacht, but we are in the same port and having fun!
I want to come back to Charleston someday!