Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Charleston City Tours


Today we spent most of the day in Charleston.  We started out at the visitors center.  There are lots of tours and of course a wealth of information on what to see and do around the city.  It is also the place to purchase tour tickets, bus tickets, t-shirts, etc.

We decided to see the area “South of Broad” and to take a Gullah tour.  There is a trolley system run by the city bus company that loops through different areas of the city.  For a single price you can purchase a get-on-get-off ticket that is good on any of the trolleys. 

We rode “211” trolley to the Battery area and then walked North back to Broad.   The area “South of Broad” is one of the older sections of town and was settled by the gentry of the 1700 and 1800s.  It is full of old homes that have existed for many many years.

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We saw mule and horse drawn carriages that are used for tours of the area.


The area included cobblestone streets (just a few) and beautiful fronts of homes, even some with gas lights instead of electric lights in front.

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We had tired feet after all of the walking around this intriguing area.


We had lunch at a place called Virginia,s on King.  It was recommended by a local and it had really good food and I would recommend it.

Then in the afternoon we did the Gullah tour.  Gullah is a language that evolved over time and is a combination of African languages, English, and Creole basically.  It evolved by the slaves, that came from different countries of Africa and so couldn’t communicate with each other.  The tour included some sea islands in the area.  If you read Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide, it is based on his teaching the Gullah children on one of the sea islands.  The tour guide was very interesting and fun.  He included a lot of local slave history, the story of Porgy and Bess, and information on the plantations of the area.

As an example, we went by a plantation house, which consisted of 16,000 acres, mostly planted in rice, and then went past the plantation slave cabins.

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Live Oak tress grow readily in this area.  We stopped to look at one that is estimated to be 300 to 600 years old and is just enormous.  It is difficult to get a picture of the entire tree.

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The story of Porgy and Bess was based on a real person.  Set to music by Gershwin, it is quite the story. We went past the grave site of “Porgy” on the tour.  George Gershwin visited the grave at some time and left a stone on the grave, as is the Jewish custom.  There were several stones today on “Porgy’s” gravestone and his mother’s, also buried here. 

We also saw the original city jail and paddy wagon (horse drawn of course).

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Toward the end of the tour we passed a quilt shop, so of course had to return there so Katie could at least look……of course she did more than look!


At this point we decided we were hungry again.  We had another “local” recommendation for a restaurant.  Shem Creek Bar and Grill is in the Mt Pleasant area, near Sullivan’s Island. 



On the menu for tonight was:

Parmesan encrusted Mahi-Mahi


Stuffed Flounder


and Shrimp and fried Grits.


That ended our touring day, with a walk along Shem’s dock viewing the setting sun.


Tomorrow we are off to New Bern, NC.  It will be mostly driving, but we are going to travel along the coast, or as close as possible.

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