Thursday, December 9, 2010


Subj: “the most civilized city in the world”
Date: Fri Nov 3 22:58:25 EST 2000

That was Lawson Pendleton's description of Charleston, South Carolina many years ago. For as long as I can recall, I wanted to see and experience Charleston, a city so special that legend has it Sherman refused to destroy it. When Elsa first discussed her image of the proposed trip to DisneyWorld, seeing Charleston was always part of it.

After such a long drive from Williamsburg, I expected to be travel weary the next day. As usual, Elsa was up and out early, leaving me to get up at my leisure. I knew that if I wanted to stay put until check out time, that would be fine with her.

In reality, I rolled out of bed around 9:00 a.m., which was late for me back then. About 15 minutes later, Elsa strolled in with a cup of hot coffee and some fresh fruit, a foreshadowing of the breakfast awaiting me downstairs. Elsa was glowing. She had walked around part of historical Charleston, checking out routes we could ramble later on. Best of all, she had found a great place for her own breakfast, where the locals were friendly and the staff treated her as if she was a regular.

While I dressed, Elsa packed up our bags and tucked them away at the front desk. The stuffies had their very own open bag, which we kept in the back seat.

About our stuffies
- as we had already experienced on previous visits to San Francisco and Richmond, everyone who clapped eyes on them were entranced. You would think they would consider us lunatics, hauling around an entourage of stuffed animals, but that was not - is not - our experience. There is something about our retinue of squirrels, minkies, bears, skunk et al that just wins people over immediately.

Those of you who know us well will understand.

The staff who had reason to come to our room at the King Charles Inn were no exception and made a fuss over the assemblage holding court in the TV armoire. As Elsa said several years earlier, when a waiter at Belle Voce at San Francisco's Fairmount Hotel asked if she would like her picture taken with the stuffies (which were in a big shopping bag, and which he then proceeded to take out gently, one at a time, carefully posing each one in back of her before taking a snap shot), it makes you wonder who's the loopier - us for having the stuffies in the first place or the many others who take them in delighted stride.

Pardon me for digressing. Back to Charleston and the King Charles Inn.

While I had breakfast in the gracious dining room - again, somehow reminiscent of Paddington and of New Orleans - Elsa went tootling in the car to find some farther-a-field routes to take. By the time she got back around 10:30ish, I was just finishing up. We said our farewells to the King Charles Inn and off we went to explore Charleston.

At first, I was tired and could only imagine admiring the beauty from my car seat, but within 30 minutes I got my second wind. How could I not, in such beauty.

To those who have never seen Charleston, it would be impossible to describe its unique beauty and sense of utter graciousness. To those who have been there, the memory of Charleston will speak for itself.

Elsa drove along little back streets, down broad boulevards lined with beautiful houses and lush plantings. It was even better than I had dreamed.

Nothing prepared me for The Battery, with its exquisite homes and the sweep out to the ocean. Its beauty took my breath away. We got out and walked about - and took pictures of Zach (a gibbon) leaning out of wrought iron fencing.

I close my eyes and I am back in the beauty of that place.

It was hard to leave The Battery. Elsa drove around three times before finally turning back toward the historic market place, which was near the place she'd been for breakfast. We had an early lunch at the same place which, we've since found out, is considered one of the best places to go for a taste of the real, not tourist, Charleston.

We had a rollicking time. Elsa was right - the staff were incredible and the food out of this world. Our waitress came out and sat with us for a while and the cook came out, too, and made a great fuss over us. It was very hard to leave, but we had a ways to go, with reservations that night at Jacksonville.

Instead of telling you about where we stayed in Jacksonville, I am going to stop right here. I am going to head up the wooden hill filled with smiles and happy thoughts of Charleston - literally a dream come true.

Nite nite, y'all - Grammie

reposted in celebration of the 05/14 centenary of Grammie's birth

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