#304: Go to Charleston

At the Magnolia plantation

At the Magnolia plantation

April 5 2013

LOCATION: Charleston, SC

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My adventure to Charleston began with a six hour trip from Va Beach with my friends Dana and Kelly to see our friend Jocelynn who lives in the Charleston area. Equipped with a “mom” mini van, we made our road trip. It has been awhile since I’ve been in a van, and man those are really nice! Loads of gadgets. I ended up doing most of the driving down there and really liked the van a lot. Is it wrong to want a van when I don’t have a family yet? HA!

We finally arrived around 3pm and ventured into the city for our horse drawn carriage tour. It ended up being a mule drawn carriage, but that seemed like the same thing. Hit and Run were the mule’s names and we did neither!

The carriage tour

The carriage tour

The ride was a pokey, smooth stroll through the city as we held up traffic at any moment possible. The houses in the downtown area were small, narrow and stacked together in different colors. Most were even in the million dollar range. OUCH!

Being the oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston has a rich history that dates back to the 1700s. Many of the buildings were still around and even included slave quarters that were used. Some buildings also had bolts in them that dated back to the 1800s when there was a powerful earthquake that really affected the city. The tour also took us by the Old City Jail.

The haunted Old City Jail

The haunted Old City Jail

Me with the jail in the background. Any orbs??

Me with the jail in the background. Any orbs??

The place was used as a jail in the 1800s and early 1900s and has thus been known as a haunted place. One of the most famous hauntings is that of Lavinia Fisher; a mass murderer who was hung in her wedding dress and can still be found waiting for her proposal. The jail has haunted tours, but is also used as an art school. Creepy!! The tour also talked about all the white oleander trees in the area and how women used to poison their husbands with white oleander tea. Very spooky history in this town!

After our tour, we ate dinner on the water at Fleet Landing. Most of the menu was fresh (and over priced) fish, but all I really wanted was a burger. Eating burgers is not really my thing, so if I was craving one…a burger I was going to get! I decided to get the Signature Fleet Landing burger with onion straws and pimento cheese. This was seriously the best burger I’ve ever had in my entire life. Amazing!! I highly recommend it.

After eating, we attempted to find Rainbow Row. A friend suggested seeing it. After driving around in the dark, we finally found the stack of houses. It was just the same houses like everywhere else that we saw.

Rainbow Row. Photo by the Washington Post

Rainbow Row. Photo by the Washington Post

Basically, after the Civil War, this area of Charleston devolved into near slum conditions. In the early 1900s, Dorothy Porcher Legge purchased a section of these houses numbering 99 through 101 East Bay and began to renovate them. She chose to paint these houses pink based on a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Other owners and future owners followed suit, creating the “rainbow” of pastel colors present today. The coloring of the houses helped keep the houses cool inside as well as give the area its name. Common myths concerning Charleston include variants on the reasons for the paint colors. According to some tales, the houses were painted in the various colors such that the intoxicated sailors coming in from port could remember which houses they were to bunk in. In other versions, the colors of the buildings date from their use as stores; the colors were used so that owners could tell illiterate slaves which building to go to for shopping.

Without knowing the history of these houses at the time, we weren’t too impressed since everything else seemed to be a colorful paint as well.

The next day, we went to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Magnolia plantation

Magnolia plantation

The plantation is one of the oldest still left in the south and was used in the 1600s by the Drayton family. It was used as a rice plantation and employed many slaves for the rice cultivation. It was a beautiful place to visit with bridges and lakes everywhere.

Magnolia plantation

Magnolia plantation

The plantation house was big and was turned into a gift shop. Also along the path were some of the slave houses still erect. There were about five houses in a row that were slowly falling apart. Inside, was a bed, stove and small kitchen.

The slave houses at the Magnolia plantation

The slave houses at the Magnolia plantation

We didn’t get to see much of the slave’s houses because after exiting one, we were yelled at for not being on a paid tour for it. So, we decided to leave since we saw everything else.

I left Charleston wanting to see more and have more time there than the one and a half days we allotted. Firefly and moonshine tasting, kayaking, ghost tours and downtown Charleston bars would need to wait till my next visit, hopefully soon.

*Thank you Jocelynn for letting us stay at your house. Also, thank you Jocelynn, Dana, Kelly and Kyle for accompanying me on this adventure.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? Yes, lots more to see in the city than we had time for.

HOW TO DO THIS:

Carriage tours: Old South Carriage Tours, $22 for an hour tour. http://www.oldsouthcarriagetours.com/

Fleet Landing: Food $10-30, but fresh and yummy! http://www.fleetlanding.net/

Magnolia Plantation: various tour prices http://www.magnoliaplantation.com/

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