State no 4
Sticking to the East coast of mainland USA, I visited the oldest and currently the largest city in the state of South Carolina which is known as the Palmetto state (it’s a type of tree apparently!) I was lucky to be invited to visit Charleston whilst I was visiting friends in North Carolina, and from the NC capital Raleigh, it’s a 4 hour drive South on the I95.
Many of the native American tribes who originally lived here on the East coast are no longer to be found in S Carolina, there were as many if not more than 29 different tribes. Some tribes survived once the Europeans arrived, but many died out as European diseases infiltrated their land. Charleston were I stayed, was founded in 1690 and was originally known as Charles Town after King Charles of England. It may now be known as The most polite and hospitable city in America but in 1860 it has the more repugnant title of being the nations capital of the slave trade as over 40% of the enslaved Africans were brought to the Charleston Harbour as their first port of call. As well as the role that S Carolina played in the slave trade, it was also here where the first battle of the American Civil War took place, as South Carolina broke away from Union to form the Confederacy. So, if American history is of interest to you, this southern state has plenty of it, not to mention the 137 miles of coastline, beaches, plantations and gardens, so there is lots to pack into an itinerary here.
That said, I was only staying for the weekend with family of my friends, so I had the luxury of being shown around by locals. Most of my time was spent exploring the centre of Charleston, I remember it being very pretty, with well tended gardens and picturesque Antebellum (pre civil war) houses, a waterfront park, leafy green streets with palm trees, restaurants and bars.
We didn’t do many of the tourist spots here, just wandered the streets and window shopped and tried a few restaurants, and with its coastal location it’s no surprise that Charleston is famed for its Seafood. So I tried my first and probably my last raw oyster, there are many places to choose from to try this ‘delicacy’ from high end restaurants and small oyster bars to seafood shacks by the waterfront.
Eating a raw oyster with a cracker didn’t make it go down any easier!
One place we did have a good wander and explore was the City Market which stretches over about 4 blocks, housed in a historic building from the 1700’s, here you can find food, crafts and jewellery amongst other things. The first evening we had dinner at my friends house, before having drinks in the Market area.
The next morning we drove to Folly Island and to Folly beach, which is a city on the island, fully accessible by car and just south of Charleston. There are lots of restaurants, bars and shops to explore, picnic spots, a lighthouse, a park and if you’re into the water, you can surf or take a boat out. Keeping dry, we grabbed a Mexican brunch before a beach walk.
Our last evening was spent back up Charleston along the waterfront, trying and failing to see some seals in the water and then heading for dinner and the next morning we headed 4 hours back north to Raleigh, NC. Looking back it would have been nice to have explored some more of the history of the area, but you always should leave something to return too!