As a child, I was fortunate enough to get to experience a fair amount of travel. On occasion, this included travel to parts of the country or nearby islands with distinctive accents. On these trips, my father had (and I suspect, still has) the habit of immediately adopting the local accent.
While I never elevated embarrassment of my parents to the true artform my sister achieved, I still recall this being relatively embarrassing.
So, why in the bloody hell do I do it?
Right then, Charleston. Y’all. It’s a very small place. Bounded by rivers, ocean, and highway, you can’t get lost. So, step one for me, as it usually is, was to set out on a long walk. A lap of the downtown.
Prior to arriving, I hadn’t quite realized the degree to which Charleston proper exists almost purely as a tourist destination. Between cruise ships docking and regional residents doing a weekend away, it seems designed to deliver a charming southern experience. This isn’t a complaint per-se – I don’t think the charm is papier-mâché applied to Chinese sheetrock like at Disney. But nearly all the restaurants are higher end, designed places – the sorts of restaurants with “investors” rather than “owners” – and the stores are more shoppe, less shop. In addition to the tourist crowds, you’ve got folks from the citadel (and their companions) roaming around. It doesn’t have the feel of a city that makes things. It makes itself available for consumption.
After a lengthy strolled, I grabbed dinner at Poogan’s Porch – buttermilk fried chicken, collard greens and a really fantastic spinach salad. Had a nice chat with the bartender about ingredient sourcing – they’re almost entirely local, as are seemingly most good places here. Must be nice to have the climate to support that.
Then, it was time for the Ghost & Pirate tour. In the leadup to this tour, I’ve been making known my hope that the tour would drop the ampersand and instead deliver stories of Ghost Pirates. And, to an extent, it did. Lead around downtown by a pirate-dressed guide, we heard real stories about the history of Charleston and its on-again off-again relationship with the neighborhood pirates. We also got stories of some of the ghosts which inhabit the city – at least one of which was a legitimate pirate.
A great chance to start to get a sense of the city and the history.
Tomorrow, a long walk for some Gullah cuisine, a lighthouse, and some big boats.