Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh Charleston....I don't know how to quit you

Have you ever been to the South? 

You know, where southern hospitality and charm are around every corner, and the most tantalizing seafood awaits your tastebuds, and where tides roll in on Folly Beach like an old friend coming home to visit?

I came, I saw, I experienced.....and I think I fell in love. One of the social media status updates I posted while I was there was: "Day 1: watched a proposal on the beach (he got down on one knee) Day 2: watched a wedding on the beach....love is in the air in Charleston =)"

I don't see how love could not be in the air, in Charleston. The history, the charm, the architecture, the "sweet south" I dubbed it while I was lucky enough to experience so many great things in my short visit with friends.

Our first meal was at Hymans Seafood, downtown Charleston. I've never in my life experienced Lobster Bisque so religiously. At first I thought they brought clam chowder instead, because I expected a pink hue from the lobster. I was quickly assured that true lobster bisque is white. I'm telling you, it was to DIE.FOR.

After we all had such a good time driving through downtown and having this ridiculously fabulous meal, we talked at the table for a while about what the next four days would bring. A friends nephew was graduating from Citadel, you could feel the excitement coming from him as he told me that he was ready to be out in the world and put to use what he had learned. I could also feel the pride coming from his parents, but the real clincher was actually being on the Citadel grounds, watching these soldiers use such precision in their formation during the military parade. I didn't know what to expect. As the silence fell over the crowd as they walked out onto that field, I got goosebumps, watching them flawlessly go through their steps they probably practiced a thousand times to get them so perfect.

I told my friends that I didn't want to go to Fort Sumter, I would use the time to say hello to the ocean.  But, as Mother Nature would have it, the rain coming down changed my mind. I have to say that I'm glad, because I would have missed this:

"In December of 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union....." the voice crackles over the intercom as we sail across the Charleston Harbor on a boat headed towards Fort Sumter. The bombardment of Fort Sumter was the opening engagement of the American Civil War, I learned as I listened to the history being told while I was gazing at the harbor from across the water. My thoughts went to my Grandpa and Dad immediately, the wars they fought in, and fortunately made it back home from.
I climbed all the way to the top of the Fort that overcast day.

Everyone that knows me well knows that I have a strong love for Starbucks. I may be their biggest fan. Driving through Charleston and gazing up at those glorious two and three-story homes with porches on the first and second floor balconies took my breath away.

But I literally squealed when we came across what I have dubbed, the cutest Starbucks I've ever seen.

Although it's hard to pick just one favorite moment, any time I've visited the ocean, I will more than likely tell you that my favorite moments were the ones where I'm walking the beach, waiting for the sun to rise. Talk about Zen, it doesn't get any better than that. Folly Beach did not disappoint, it was beautiful.

There were several things on my list that I wanted to be sure to experience before I left. One was to eat boiled peanuts. I had NO idea what they would taste like, but I now understand the comments I've always heard about them being delicious. Another was to eat the shrimp grits with cheese, bacon and gravy. I know.....it sounds, well odd. Let me be your witness, they're unbelievable. There is no way I could eat like that every morning, but for a vacation breakfast in the south? I managed. The Folly Beach Pier was talked about for weeks before I got there. I heard it was amazing. See for yourself:

So Charleston. Now that I've met you, I really don't know how to quit you. I will visit again one day. But I can say this with certainty, I could live in the South.

See you soon friend,

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