Work Based Trip To Charleston, South Carolina
As part of my upcoming coffee table book about old houses in America I picked Charleston in South Carolina as one of the most ideal state to capture that old scene vibe I wanted my book to impart. I was pleased at all the images my camera captured, specifically the historic homes that are open to the general public. It was a great privilege to immortalize the century old horse drawn carriages plying its idyllic street corners on my book. I was also made aware of its cultural legacy and historical importance with a visit to their museums. Allured by the Southern charm of its people and beautiful sceneries Charleston is the best highlight of my travel experiences.
On this trip I brought along my best friend Vincent also an acclaimed photographer. After a one hour flight from LaGuardia International Airport, we reached the Charleston International Airport. Upon arrival I immediately looked for a rent a car service so we could easily navigate around the city. Driving around on a Nissan Altima we hit the road and the first place I photographed was the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. It was worth a look as it gives nice views of the river and the pass underneath. On this bridge we find people who are constantly running, riding a bike or just walking along it. This large, nice bridge is visible from all points of the city giving an impression of a huge giant. Reading its historical plate I have learned that the bridge is almost 60 meters high, about four kilometers long and was opened to the public in 2005. Considered as one of the newest landmarks in South Carolina, it has a pedestrian walkway, bike area for cyclists and jogging lane across its bridge run. Sunset views from here were awesome. An amazing place with great views of the Strait, it gets more beautiful at night when it is illuminated by its colored lights. At night the view of the Patriot’s Point looks equally stunning. I also have the chance to take pictures of the huge warship USS Yorktown that was quietly docked during the time of our visit.
The Charleston Waterfront Park provides the best view of the estuary. Proceeding towards the river to get to the pier this attraction welcomes every visitor with a beautiful fountain. Located directly on the water at the edge of the old town, a visit to this park is actually a must. Eye catching part is the beautiful pineapple fountain in the center and the countless flowers that surround it. Lined with lots of benches we sat and just appreciate the fresh sea breeze blowing in our face. With luck we get to see dolphins swimming in the ocean. It has a beautiful view of the harbor on one hand and the big bridge on the other. It is certainly one of the most beautiful places in Charleston. Along the way to another attraction I keep stopping and setting up my camera to take beautiful pictures of old houses and streets until we get to the College of Charleston. The oldest university is a hidden treasure in the city. A good stroll along the grounds of this 200 year old campus exudes a picture perfect southern architecture, luxury and charm.
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I got more captivated of this southern charm with a visit to the Battery and White Point Gardens. This part of South Carolina is full of charming streets and historic houses and it is justly proud! Everything is well kept and pleasantly presented. Our walking tour around this place was met with every picturesque street or alley that we encounter. I marveled at the colorful houses as I scroll on my camera’s viewfinder. Wide beautiful gardens, dock, parks, gave a glimpse of history at every turn. The old mansions, houses, streets and squares gave every visitor the feeling of being in an old movie. Excellent! Historic and romantic, it is a very ideal park to walk around and enjoy a quiet afternoon or evening holding hands with your partner. The palmetto lined streets provide perfect shade on that hot day. Afterwards we dropped by to visit old graveyards of the fallen war heroes at the Magnolia Cemetery.
The Aitken – Rhett House is not as lavish as other houses we saw around here as it has not undergone any restoration and is widely appreciated on its preserved state. The historic house museum is approximately 1.5 kilometers from the city center and is supposedly the best and largest mansion in this area. With its high entrance fee we were expecting a mansion in the style of the golden ages of Charleston. Overall, we found it rather disappointing however, the rooms may be largely original but some of it is quite run down e.g. wallpaper hanging off the walls, worn out furniture and most of them were empty. The MP3 guided audio tour provided enough useful information from the museum up to its grounds. They clearly advise not to skip any part of that long tour, but I like the part that we got to explore it at our own pace. The museum succeeded in giving the visitor an idea of how the period of slavery and plantation life was used to be, very good! It was still interesting and impressive but not as how we have imagined it to be. We spend the rest of the afternoon listening to a relaxing gospel music and interesting musical history of the city at the Sound of Charleston. It was a brilliant combination as we got serenaded by their good line of excellent performers belting out the classic and inspirational tunes of the city.
On the other hand the Nathaniel Russell House Museum provides a striking contrast from the other museum house we have previously visited. This place is more interesting and pristine plus there was so much more to see in a not so deteriorating state. The guided tour was very informative as he explained to us its valuable history and well preserved American architecture. What I enjoyed most was the visit to the single house architectural quality of the Edmonston-Alston House. The waterfront attraction is the only museum house along the battery that is generally open to the public. Despite its small size it holds great views of the Fort Sumter, another historical harbor port of the city.
Visiting a plantation is mandatory when in Charleston and the Middleton Place did not fail us on our expectations. On board its guided horse drawn carriage tour we learned something interesting about the methods of irrigation, drainage and cultivation of rice as well as some useful information on the history of the local economy and the important role of slaves during the confederate era. The beautiful landscaped gardens, ancient street alleys and the huge complex complete that dramatic replication of its history. The next plantation we visited was the oldest in the area and widely extends for several kilometers called the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. The facility is well maintained and worth seeing as well as the small petting zoo found inside this huge garden. As we walk along its enchanted ponds we found old bridges, and great vegetation composed of magnolias, roses and camellias. The Drayton Hall Plantation is an amazing attraction that lies on a wonderful long avenue amidst huge and ancient trees. It was one of the plantation houses that were not burned during the Civil War, unrestored and still in its original condition. Not to be missed!
Charleston is a place that is so rich in history and natural interest. I felt transported back 200 years ago when I experienced the tour of the restored old houses and plantations. It was like a realization of a beautiful dream. I highly recommend it.
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