a life well lived

Monday, November 3, 2014

"The most civilized city in the USA"

"The most civilized city in the USA"

That was Lawson Pendleton's description of Charleston, South Carolina many years ago.  For as long as I can recall, I wanted to see and experience Charleston, a city so special that legend has it Sherman refused to destroy it.  When Elsa first discussed her image of the proposed trip, seeing Charleston was always part of it.  


After such a long drive from Williamsburg, I expected to be travel-weary the next day.   Elsa was up and out early, leaving me to get up at my leisure.  I knew that if I wanted to stay put until check out time, that would be fine with her.  In reality, I rolled out of bed around 9:00 a.m., which was late for me back then.  About 15 minutes later, Elsa strolled in with a cup of hot coffee and some fresh fruit.  She glowed. 
Seems that she had walked around part of historical Charleston, checking out routes we could ramble later on.  Elsa also found a great place for breakfast, where the locals were friendly and the staff apparently treated her as if she was a regular.  

I got dressed and, as usual, she packed up our bags and tucked them away at the front desk.  The stuffies had their very own open bag, which we kept in the back seat.

About the stuffies…  As we had already experienced in San Francisco and Richmond, everyone who claps eyes on our stuffies are entranced.  You would think they would consider us lunatics, but that was not - is not - our experience.  There is something about our retinue of squirrels, minkies (monkeys of various sizes), bears, skunk et al that just wins people over immediately.  Those of you who know us well will understand.  The staff who had reason to come to our room at the King Charles Inn were no exception and made a fuss over the assemblage holding court in the TV armoire. 

A favorite memory with the stuffies happened at San Francisco’s oh-so-elegant Fairmount Hotel.  We ate our last dinner at the hotel’s Belle Voce, tucked away on the Fairmount’s lower level.  An almost over-flowing bag of stuffies was to Elsa’s left.  We were both flabbergasted when one of the staff asked Elsa if she would like to have HER picture taken with the stuffies, then he proceeded to gently take each one out and pose it in back of or beside her (we were sitting in a 3-sided booth) before taking a snap shot.  Always makes me wonder who is the loopier - us for having the stuffies in the first place or the many others who respond to them with what can only be called belief.

Pardon me for digressing.  Back to Charleston and the King Charles Inn.  I went downstairs to the gracious dining room - again, somehow reminiscent of Paddington,. AU - but decided to take my morning repast on the outdoor terrace.  All this, while Elsa went tootling in the car to find some further afield routes to take.  By the time she got back, around 10:30ish, I was just finishing up.  

We made our farewells to the King Charles Inn and off we went to explore Charleston. 


At first, I was t-i-r-e-d, but within 30 minutes I got my second wind.  How could it not, in such beauty.  

To those who have never seen Charleston, it would be impossible to describe its unique beauty and sense of utter graciousness.  To those who have been there, the memory of Charleston will speak for itself.

Elsa drove along little back streets, down boulevards lined with beautiful
houses and lush plantings.  It was even better than I had dreamed.  

Nothing prepared me for The Battery, with its exquisite homes and the sweep out to the ocean.  Its beauty took my breath away.  We got out and walked about - and took pictures of Zach (a gibbon) leaning out of wrought iron fencing.  I close my eyes and I am back in the beauty of that place.

It was hard to leave The Battery.  Elsa drove around three times before finally turning back toward the historic market place, which was near the place she'd been for breakfast, where we had an early lunch. 

Turns out, it’s considered one of the best “in the know” places to go, a place beloved by the locals and off the tourist  radar.  We had a rollicking time as we soaked the real, not tourist, Charleston.  Elsa was spot on - the staff was incredible and the food out of this world.  Our waitress came out and sat with us for a while and the cook made a great fuss over us.  It was very hard to leave, but we had a ways to go, with reservations that night at Jacksonville.


Instead of telling you about where we stayed in Jacksonville, I am going to stop right here.   I am going to head up the wooden hill filled with smiles and happy thoughts of Charleston - literally a dream come true.

Nite nite, y'all - Grammie

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