We drove to Springfield Suites in Charleston. We’ve stayed at a few Springfield Suites, so it felt nicely familiar. They are all very close to a motorway, very clean, and the room layout is almost identical. This one, near Charleston, overlooked an area of swamp, so that was a little different (usually the view is of several major roads converging!)
There was a hotel shuttle bus, costing $6, to the centre of Charleston. Fred the driver was very chatty, and gave us recommendations for places to visit. His favourite place to eat (apparently) was Mason’s Lobster Rolls. We arrived at lunch time, so followed Fred’s directions, and found Mason’s. The lobster rolls were delicious—freshly baked bread, filled to almost overflowing with lobster. However, at $15 each, they were rather over-priced, and I highly doubt if friendly Fred ate there as often as he said, and I wondered if he was related to Mason or had shares in the business.
We walked around Charleston. There were lots of pretty colonial houses, tree-lined streets, markets, and estate agents, art galleries and bridal shops. (Honestly, there were a LOT of bridal shops!) Most of the buildings had plaques on them, telling you who had lived there in the past. To be honest, they would only interest someone who was really, really, interested in American history.
We found the old slave market, which is now a museum, and gives lectures on the history of the slave trade. I peeked through the door, but it seemed to be mainly old photographs, which I assumed would be talked about by the tour-guide, and I wanted to see actual places, to ‘feel’ how a slave market would have been, so we didn’t go in. This was, I feel, a mistake. I later read the guide book, and realised I had missed an ideal opportunity to learn more about slavery, and to see one of the busiest market places in the area.
We walked to the waterfront, and looked across the river to a big naval ship. There were water birds and seagulls, and people wandering aimlessly, and big swings where you could sit and watch the water.
I bought a fridge magnet in Central Market (which has always sold produce, not slaves, despite what we were told by friendly Fred). Then we walked to a coffee shop, and drank coffee (which was horrid) and ate muffins (which were nice). All served in disposable plates and cups.
We ate dinner at California Dreaming, because it was walking distance from our motel. It was a round bar, right next to the water, but as it was dark we couldn’t see the view. The inside was dark too, so I couldn’t see my food properly, which rather put me off eating—how can you check the chicken is properly cooked if everything is dark? I worry about things like that, but then, I worry about a lot of things! We survived, all was fine, we slept well.
Charleston was one of the cities highly recommended by the guide books, but it wasn’t a place I need to return to. It was very pretty, with all the painted houses, and flowers, and horse and carriage rides—but I couldn’t really get a feel for it as a real place. There was something a little twee about it. Plus, although the houses were very pretty, I kept wondering how many were only possible due to the busy slave trade, and whether it was okay to admire things that were only possible because other people had suffered terribly. It didn’t feel honest, somehow–but maybe I was simply in the wrong mood, and I’m sure a single day is not long enough to do justice to a city.
The next day we headed for Savannah, I’ll tell you about it in my next blog (it was one of the places I absolutely loved!)
Thank you for sharing our adventures. Take care.
Love, Anne x
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