Charleston, South Carolina, is famous for firing the first shots of the Civil War. You can take a boat tour out to Fort Sumter where it all happened, and walk around what’s left of the battlements. For a city which left such a mark on the rest of the country, you’d think it might be a gritty, hard city, full of determined hot heads. But Charleston is about as civilised as cities come. Wide, cobbled streets are peppered with locals dressed in pastel-coloured clothing, and tourists observing the neat buildings from horse and carriages. It’s certainly a city of wealth, and has been for many, many years.
The plantations surrounding Charleston brought money into the city, and the people who owned the money built enormous mansions overlooking the water. Perhaps the locals dress to match the houses, because many of them are painted pale blue, or pink, or green. It was a great city to play the “which-house-would-I-like-to-live-in?” game. Speaking of, we weren’t exactly living on the cheap. Cecilia had obtained a room for us at the Embassy Suites, a luxury hotel that used to be a barracks. We had breakfast every morning in the now closed-in courtyard where men would used to form up for drill practice. Having been forced to do cadets in high school, breakfast became a rather satisfying meal.
On my last day in Charleston we visited Middleton Place, a former plantation, that although not the largest of Charleston’s plantations, is renowned for its beautiful gardens. High hedges and flower beds wind their way around a reflection pool, and narrow paths curve through the lawns and come to rest on a hill overlooking the butterfly lakes. It was easy to imagine myself living in that house, whiling away my evenings wandering through the gardens, with many a quiet spot to stop and read a book.
After the craziness of Vegas, and our jam-packed few days in Orlando, it was nice to be somewhere that moved at a slower pace. I’d like to put it down to appreciation for things that take time that has taught some South Carolinians how to make a decent cup of coffee. We found not one, but two places that I’d quite like to package up and bring back to Melbourne. So thank you to City Lights and Kudu, for satisfying my cappuccino cravings.
Charleston may have a plaque detailing its tumultuous history with pirates, and we spent enough time in the museum for me to understand how rough life could be in that area, but there is a reason why people fake a posh accent when they say “Charleston.”