I opted for a History Walking Tour of Charleston, one of the numerous options available. As well as being really knowledgeable, Scott was an extremely enthusiastic tour guide. He’d make an excellent history teacher with his passion surely get most kids interested. Scott explained the origins of Charleston. The name was originally Charles Town, in honour of King Charles II of England. We walked around the quaint cobbled streets for a couple of hours looking at charming houses and churches. Scott told us how the recent Hurricane Matthew had flooded the promenade and some of the area’s high-end property. Looking into the grids, the water level was still high. There’s a line of houses, Rainbow Row, supposedly the most photographed in the city but I found this to be a bit overrated. They were really nice houses but it my unqualified opinion, there’s much nicer architecture to see in Charleston. It’s clear by how many grand 19th century buildings there are around, that Charleston has experienced an extremely affluent economic history. Anyone with a basic historical knowledge may suspect that some of this wealth may have been accrued by unsavoury means. Scott confirmed this when he explained Charleston’s slavery past. Back in the day Charleston was of the major slave ports in the world. Many buildings associated with the trade are still around today.
There were plenty of boat excursion available in Charleston. You could go and see some of the island forts where the origins of the American Civil War took place. For those not into history there are supposedly some excellent beaches a boat ride away. If you’re lucky you may even see some of the dolphins that reside in the area. Instead of viewing history/culture/scenery, I went to a bar. I got talking to one of the bar flies who told me that he was down from Boston for a pool tournament tomorrow. He explained that all of his teammates were still hungover from last night so he was making an early start on the booze this afternoon. He was obviously from the Bill Werbuniek school of pool! We then had the standard bar conversation about why association football isn’t very popular in the US and why American football is remains fairly obscure in the UK. At one point it got confusing when I was referring to American football as football and he was also calling soccer football!
With the horrific current exchange rate I usually try to conserve money when I’m staying in hostels by cooking. I’ve found that if a burger and chips is $13 and a beer costs $5, a burger and a couple of pints costs over £20 once you added in tax and a tip. Cooking stuff myself also tends to be much healthier. That said I will eat out as a treat or if I see something interesting on the menu. Tonight I tried a Carolina Delight. This dish contained shrimp (which I think are the same prawns back home), grits (I’m still not sure exactly what they are) and some sort of cheesy/garlicy sauce. It was nice enough and worth trying although perhaps I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a delight. I noticed that in many of the eateries in Charleston, as well as advocating the virtues of their food, they love to put celebrity endorsement in their window, often accompanied by a quote or a letter from the said celebrity saying how great the restaurant was. One establishment even had praise from George Bush (the younger one). Without getting political I’d imagine that for some people, that would put them right off the restaurant. The Carolina Delight place, Hyman’s Seafood, went to town on this idea. Entire walls were decorated with pictures of visiting celebrities. The back of the menu names drops many of these people. Looking through them led me to think, whatever happened to the star of some of the finest 1980s comedies, Steve Guttenberg? I was considering trying to drop into a conversation with the barman that I was former snooker world champion, Mark Williams, the only person moderately approaching a celebrity doppleganger of me. I’d imagine the response would have been, “Mark who? And what the heck is snucker?” That said Mark Williams is probably a bigger celebrity that some of the D-listers on the back of their menu!