It is early December and I am heading to Charleston with 2 of my best friends, Betty and Melanie, by my side. We arrive in Charleston on an exceptionally hot and muggy afternoon so typical for the deep south even in December, so very Tennessee Williams, or since we’re in Charleston, so very Pat Conroy.
After a drink in the hotel bar, we head out to explore before we have to rendezvous with our guide for a walking tour. We first meandered through the market, good for some shopping, but very touristy, which I object to just on principle. As we arrived at our rendezvous point at the pineapple fountain in Waterfront Park, I noticed these 4 school-age girls splashing and playing in the fountain with such exuberance that I asked if I could take their picture. The apparent leader placed her hand on her hip, tilted her head and replied ” Are we gone be in a magazine?” I think they perfectly personify the light-hearted sassiness of Charlestonians. It is a city of characters.
We headed out on our walking tour with a very energetic and knowledgable guide, within 1 hr the temperature started dropping and within 2 hours it was cold, windy and raining. We quickly retreated into a restaurant bar ( High Cotton) to get dry, have some great apps and our first (and best) version of a “Dark and Stormy” of the weekend. As we headed back to the hotel we ran into a large group of young people dressed like Santas going into a bar. I asked one Santa if they got free drinks for dressing up and he replied no, they just liked to dress up for the season and go out. Again, characters.
On Sunday after a great brunch at Toast we toured beautiful Boone Hall Plantation for a wine and food tasting and tour. The house was splendidly preserved and maintained, but still conveyed a sense of livability, I suspect because it is still lived in. The holiday decorations were so elegant and simple, one of the trees was decorated with cotton bolls, like tufts of snow, it was just beautiful. We ended the evening with a tour through Fantasy in Lights on James Island. I can’t describe how magical that tour was, it is definitely not to be missed.We ended the evening at Fleet Landing Seafood and had delicious she-crab soup.
We spent our last day wandering the cobblestone streets and gaping at the beautiful mansions and hidden gardens. We toured Calhoun House, which I recommend only if you enjoy very expensive antiques and want to see a house packed floor to ceiling with them. We had a delicious lunch at Blossom and shopped into the afternoon .We ended the evening with a progressive dinner catered by Circa 1886.The ambience, the carriage rides and of course the company was excellent and we had a great time but the food was very disappointing.
Charleston is a spirited and beautiful town with great food, lovely buildings and interesting stories, worth a visit any time of year. We noticed with mild disappointment that Charleston wasn’t really decorated much, no city lights or anything, most of the stores and houses were beautifully decorated but quite conservative. When I asked someone about this, she replied in a perfect Charleston drawl, “Yes, we believe that Charleston’s beauty speaks for itself. It is not necessary to adorn her further, regardless of the season.” Enough said.
Lift your face, Cindy