What would you call that feeling when you love visiting some place so much that after coming back you are still there. You are walking in your home but feeling the roughness of cobble stoned streets under your feet. Drawing apart your bedroom window curtains in the morning you are hoping for a view of lined up French windows with netted draperies drawn on them opening to the miniature landscapes of gardens. I am a person who clings to the fantasies and creates own fictional world around myself. I often imagined myself to be in such a state of mind after visiting the hills of Tuscany, marshes of Venice and walking down the streets of French villages. Little had I known about this magical beauty of lowcountry in the South Carolinas of America, my opinion about my own imaginations might have been different.
How do I define the way I felt while I was there for I am a person who doesn’t have words to express my feelings enough. I would rather quote the words of Pat Conroy for he must have felt what I did …
“Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes.”
If I have to put it down in a list, I would say there are certain perspectives that make this city a not to miss stop on a trip to Carolinas in America.
The Streets : You want to touch the beautiful spirit of this city, better park your car in a full day parking and prepare your feet to launch on a journey through the most amazing web of historic streets. You have a craving for Cobble stones, broad avenues, narrow winding red brick streets, streets with artistic stalls and galleries, damp alleys with mossy sidewalls and streets covered with artistic patterns of shadows of dense trees , this city is your little haven. You can encounter all of this by walking for just less than 80,000 sq ft which is called the French Quarters of Charleston. Warning ahead! the Charlmers Street and the Rainbow Row at E Bay street might hold your attention for a bit longer.
Rich Architectural Blend: The National Historic Landmark District of 502 acres in the city of Charleston which established in 1670 contains a rich blend of architectural styles all in one small district approachable by foot. It is a known fact that Charleston has distinct buildings in 8 significant architecture styles of Art Deco, Federal, Colonial, Victorian, Classic Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate and Georgian making the city a walking historical site without walls, for which I was so excited to roam the city. What I had not known that with all this mix of architectural styles, the city would have maintained such a high level of quaintness in its residential streets. Just by walking down the streets of beautifully ornamented houses and private gardens made us feel like we are living among the era where all that matters in life is peace, serenity and colours. The level of details in the gardens becomes more evident once dark hits the town, the dark, silent and moist garden alleys wake up with the performance of twinkling gas lamps and the mystic music of water features. Now is the time when you would want to walk through the residential streets as quietly as possible respecting the comfort of inhabitants and the sweet melodies of evening gardens.
Historic and Modern Markets: I am not a big market or shopping person overall , but here I must confess I was so excited to visit the Historic Centre Market of Charleston for it being one of the oldest markets of US. Apparently,
In 1788, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney ceded the land to the City of Charleston for the express use as a public market, and he stipulated that the land must remain in use as a market for perpetuity.
This fact alone was enough to excite me about the market. However, the open shed structure of market running down four blocks across the length of French quarters on one side and the display of artifacts and handcrafts both during the day time as well as in the night market got me further overwhelmed. This would be a perfect place to get some souvenirs. For the likes of my partner, the city with such a rich historical significance could not have lived without the presence of the artsy as well as vintage shopping places. You will find rows of fine high end brands as well as local designers in all the bright and popping colours to go with the feel of the city.
The unique landscape : The city with the intimate blend of Live Oak Trees, Palmettos and rich Marshes. The upper side of the waterfront of the city with its palms and a pineapple water sculpture takes you to the tropical mindset. Then you look behind and a bit closer to the waterfront apartments the dense formation of moss covered Oak trees lined up obediently in parallel rows, their branches bent downwards almost hugging each other brings you back to the country so rich in Live Oak trees that its oldest living tree is a 400 year old Oak (Angel Oak). After spending a whole day till dark roaming on the streets of Historic District of Charleston, we reserved the next day exclusively for exploring the oaks of the region and some wildlife in the Marshes.
A must do we missed: If you are in Charleston for more than 2 days unlike us, you would not want to miss the nightlife of this fun filled town. For us, by the time it was night we were too tired for we had already stretched our walking tours insanely for a day. Our plan to grab a quick dinner and then enjoy the amazing night life vistas from the rooftop Bar at Vendue (right next to the waterfront) vanished once my feet were so sore that it was hard to stand straight. We grabbed a quick dinner and said good bye to the sounds of loud and live music with heavy feet as we had plans for early morning to visit Johns island. I have a separate post coming up for the visit to John’s Island Marshes.
P.S: If you want to roam around the streets for whole day like me, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes! my poor choice of sandals made me sit on sidewalks more than I wished. But not all that comes with tiredness is bad, look what a pretty ride I found on a street.