I don’t know when my fascination with U.S. geography and specifically southern culture began. I am a California Girl, born and raised but I have always been interested in the south. Hot and muggy summers don’t bother me. I actually kind of like them. I love sweet tea and fireflies. Oh and magnolia trees and Spanish moss. I’d only spent significant time in Maryland and Virginia. But, I had also visited North Carolina and Alabama. And I had visited Georgia and Florida multiple times. But, the one southern town that had captured my attention was one town I had never visited. . .Charleston.
One of my goals is to visit all 50 states. At the beginning of 2011 I had only been to 20 states. A trip to historic Charleston, South Caroline with its stately homes and lowcountry cuisine had to be #21. So, for our 7 year anniversary (August 2011) we took a delayed anniversary trip to Charleston in September. Thomas had never been to Charleston either. But, it was never a city he gave any thought to. But, being the Foodie that he is, once I shared with him Charleston’s rich culinary identity he was ready to explore the Holy City.
In September 2011, we boarded a flight at LAX on our way to Charleston. When we landed it was sunny and hot. We picked up our rental car and drove straight to our hotel, the French Quarter Inn. It was a luxurious boutique hotel. Our Traditional King Room with a spacious Italian marble bathroom was the perfect oasis for our 4 night stay. Plus, I’d never heard of a hotel with pillow service. It was like room service but instead of selecting food you selected a pillow from the Sound Sleep Pillow menu, and they delivered it to your room. Wow. Every day warm cookies and milk were served in the lobby. Also, a selection of flavored iced teas, infused waters, and sweet and savory snacks were served at dusk. We chose the perfect hotel for us.
We explored the city, and we also traveled to Mt. Pleasant to visit Boone Hall Plantation, home of the famous Avenue of the Oaks. It is a 3/4 mile long pathway with 270 year old giant live oak trees draped with Spanish moss on both sides of the pathway. This entrance into Boone Hall truly is majestic.
Thomas and I were in complete reverence when we entered the slave quarters on the plantation. Thomas touched the brick of the “homes” and said I’m touching brick my ancestors made. I’m touching the place where they lived.
After standing in silence in the slave quarters for a little while we ventured over to the Gullah Theatre to learn more about the Gullah culture and its music. Thomas was selected out the audience to learn how to beat the drum the way they did. The next time we return to Charleston we want to learn more about the Gullah Geechee culture.
The food in Charleston is AMAZING! Its restaurants are on par with any restaurant you’d find in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Chicago. Charleston may be a tiny city but it is jam-packed with great restaurants. It has a remarkable culinary scene. We wished we could have stayed longer so we could have eaten at more restaurants. The seafood in Charleston is excellent! One of Thomas’ favorite things to eat is Shrimp n’ Grits and I think he had it at every restaurant we dined in. But his hands down favorite was the Barbeque Shrimp & Grits at 82 Queen, which was my favorite restaurant. Made with Southern Comfort Barbeque Sauce, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, and Scallions, it was DELICIOUS!!!
Thoughts of our trip to Charleston always bring a smile to my face, and I look forward to visiting again. Until then, I’ll have to get my Charleston fix by watching Southern Charm. That’s one reality show I got Thomas to watch with me. He still won’t watch my 600 Lb. Life. But, Southern Charm he’s cool with.