The alarm clock went off at 07:00 and it was still dark outside, we hadn’t set the alarm this early for a number of days and hadn‘t realised how dark it was at such an unsociable hour.
So up we got and off to the showers, which were individual multi-sex units. Showered, fed and watered we set off on foot for the Wal-Mart store about ½ mile away down US17 where there was a bus stop. We had to make a decision about what to wear. Although it was very cool it was forecast to warm up and so I gambled on that and set off in a short sleeved shirt, which made me feel ‘fresh’ to say the least but this was preferable to putting a jumper on, the sun coming out, and then having to carry it around all day.
After a long cool walk we hopped on to a number 2 Express bus which took us all the way to downtown Charleston for a total of $5.
Americans keen to experience their history flock to the town, which was founded in 1670 by eight English noblemen on land given to them by Charles II (Charles Town). The town’s cobbled streets were built with stone from Liverpool, bought over in ships which then returned loaded with rice, indigo and cotton.
Recently the town’s streets of 18th & 19th Century houses were restored and there is now a busy commercial area set against a history of skirmishes between English settlers and marauding pirates, including Blackbeard, who apparently was hunted down, hanged and buried beneath a downtown mansion here, though which one I’ve no idea.
We arrived in town at about 09:10 and made straight for the Visitors Center. After picking up a few leaflets we made our way down Meeting Street, the ‘Museum Mile’, before making for East Bay and then The Battery, from where locals sat on their balconies and watched the start of the American Civil War between Confederate soldiers who fired the first shots of the war from Fort Johnson towards the Union Army-held Fort Sumter which was built on an island to protect Charleston Harbour. This war, when eventually won by the Unionists ended slavery in America.
After The Battery we made our way up to town for some lunch at the Majestic Grill www.themajesticgrill.com which provided us with a tasty lunch at a reasonable price.
After lunch we made for the Slave Mart Museum which was very interesting. Trading in slaves on the streets of Charleston was banned as it was considered an embarrassment, and so this Slave Mart and others which followed it was where slaves were bought and sold indoors. When the importation of slaves was banned, these Marts flourished in the trade of selling slaves who had been born in America to imported slaves.
The streets of Charleston were an absolute delight. It wasn’t until after WWII that the buildings were gradually restored. The wooden clapboard houses and verandah’s looked very elegant, to my mind there was just one thing that spoiled it all – the traffic. This was out of season and yet there were cars parked everywhere spoiling most photographs we tried to take, videoing without either a car passing in the way or some noisy distraction on the soundtrack was almost impossible. It would be nice to see a total ban on motorcars parking or driving in the historic area between 09:00 and 18:00, make it a pedestrian-only area with perhaps golf carts or small electrically powered tour buses circulating the historic area for the elderly and infirm to use.
It turned in to a lovely sunny day with a very comfortable temperature for walking around, and after a period of time relaxing by the Cooper River we decided to make our way home. Walking around the city had been a real joy, the houses were delightful, but that’s about all that can be said about it really unless you go in to the museums.
Tomorrow we plan to visit the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown at Patriots Point which, as I recall, was hit in the Pacific during WWII but the crew managed to save her and she remained in service until 1970. If we have time we’ll be going over to Fort Sumter for a look at what is an important historical site.
This evenings meal was to be a barbecue and being Halloween I was keen to get back in time to get a real campfire going as well as the BBQ grill so that if any kids dare to knock on the door trick or treating I’d have the capacity to roast them two at a time.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Mt. Pleasant/Charleston KOA, 3157 US17 North, Mt Pleasant, SC 29466.